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  1. #1

    Wow I'm Clueless

    I thought I was a pretty knowledgeable guy, but a week of reading these forums has taught me how truly clueless I am. Here's my situation, and I'd really appreciate some patient guidance.

    I've got about 40 domain names, 10 or so of which are used for active websites and the others mostly gather dust. I've been using VDS hosting for nearly 15 years, but I'd like to join the grown-up world and have my own VPS. I figured I'd use a trash domain name to learn my way around and then migrate everything once I get the hang of it.

    I want to be able to:
    - host multiple websites on multiple domains (obviously).
    - including POP e-mail access
    - host a few Wordpress blogs (with the pre-requisite SQL backend)
    - host a couple of phpbb discussion forums (SQL again)
    - host a minecraft server
    - maybe host a MUD just for fun
    - learn what the hell I'm doing in a VPS environment
    - I'm in Atlanta, and nearly everyone who pings my sites is in the US

    So, I have a ton of questions:
    - Do I need LAMP?

    - Do I need cPanel? What all will it let me do?

    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.

    - If I go with "managed" does that mean I have less control? Do I still have root access?

    - Holy cow there are a lot of hosts, and I can't tell one from the other. Is there an option for my, admittedly low-bandwidth, needs in the $20-$30/month range (if I need cPanel)?

    - What other questions should I be asking?

    Thanks very much for your time and help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,870
    Hello, you don't need cPanel, but it might make hosting all those sites easier.

    Using the VPS for websites and minecraft might not be all that advisable.

    CentOS is a good choice and is very common.
    Managed doesn't mean you lose any control; it just means you have someone to help you with managment issues if you require help.

    There are many US providers available if that's where your visitors are coming from.

    Regards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3,807
    if you want to learn what the hell you're doing, don't use cpanel.

    just install mysql and tune it, upload phpmyadmin or something in a protected directory so you can "easily" add databases without mucking around

    i would recommend google apps for email as opposed to locally hosting it - it'll be much better in terms of uptime ,deliverability, everything

    as for os, really, just pick what you're comfortable with. all my boxes (production too) are debian/*bsd.

    managed is different provider to provider. some take care of everything, some will only help you AT ALL if you have control apnels installed, some do not give you root at all

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    934
    Since you're branching out all over the place during testing, I'd suggest getting more than one VPS. Given your budget, you'd be looking at no-frills unmanaged budget providers if you go this route.

    The nice advantage over single boxing it is that you avoid the conflicts you might otherwise have with all these services. Also, you get to test out different OS types. Some are better suited to certain tasks just by the simple fact that the developers might choose one distro over another.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    1,627

  6. #6
    Run Virtual Box on your PC to play around - I always test stuff locally with VB before I put it up on a hosted VPS. It'll take a while before you're ready put your stuff online. Here's a book that might help, there are more out there, but that's one of the better ones I've studied.

    If you're clueless get managed hosting and CPannel.

  7. #7
    Just quick to answer your question:

    So, I have a ton of questions:
    - Do I need LAMP?
    >>> This is fundamental web server requirements. But of course you can select other opensource software to substitute original Linux, Apache, Mysql, and PHP. If you have limited budget, go for LAMP.

    - Do I need cPanel? What all will it let me do?
    >>>> If you need something all in one and easy to manage, I advise you to have cPanel to manage your email, database and so on. This will more easy for newbie. If you need free cp, there are bundle out there.


    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.
    >>>>> Yes, CentOS is enterprise OS meaning suitable for production server. Debian also well known in hosting industry, but you need to understand the requirements for certain control panel which is not supported by certain OS.

    - If I go with "managed" does that mean I have less control? Do I still have root access?
    >>>>> Not likely. definition of managed service varies from host to host. You need to contact them directly to understand more. you'll still have all the root access and full control over it.

    - Holy cow there are a lot of hosts, and I can't tell one from the other. Is there an option for my, admittedly low-bandwidth, needs in the $20-$30/month range (if I need cPanel)?
    >>>>> Depends on the overall specification you need. cpanel itself cost about $12 - $15, depends on host. so the remain balance i'd think not much good spec you can get. If you need reliable host, try not to get from host with OpenVZ. I'm not against OpenVZ, in fact it is good technology. however, OpenVZ tend to oversell by host, and that's the reason selling at low pricing.

    Hope this layman description could clear your doubt.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    354
    - Do I need cPanel? What all will it let me do?
    cPanel is a great software and it's a very easy panel to use and get used to. It allows you to control every aspect of your server from offering clients shared hosting, reseller hosting, to even game servers (cPanel add-on) and it gives you full control and even management options of your server including backups and such stuff like that. It includes limiting of accounts, and even reports and such. It also has a very good list of Add-ons and extras you can add to it to make your life so much easier. cPanel is a very good and well know trustable control panel you are able to use, and I do suggest it if needed.


    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.
    CentOS for alot of providers and in most cases is required for cPanel/WHM on a VPS as it's a stable and very good Operating System for Production and related informations, Debian is also a good OS for the same things if needed and you didn't wanna go with cPanel. If you wanted you could always look at DirectAdmin it's cheaper and gives you same controls but not as much features and options as cPanel.

    - If I go with "managed" does that mean I have less control? Do I still have root access?
    Managed varys from each host, to host, Managed does not mean you lose control in most cases (theres some but thats why it varys and if you contact a host thats advertising it they usually include whats included) but most of the time it's a extra feature they do the work for you. It's a good start if your new and looking for extra help and don't know everything. Most managed providers include cPanel/WHM or DirectAdmin for free included with the management, and management means they will do stuff for you, from setting up your vps, to transferring your accounts over, to configs, to security, to anything you need.. Most management they will assist you and do it for you. From harden your VPS, to moving your files, to helping you setup applications, scripts, and your websites when needed and if a problem occurs they will fix it for you.

    - Holy cow there are a lot of hosts, and I can't tell one from the other. Is there an option for my, admittedly low-bandwidth, needs in the $20-$30/month range (if I need cPanel)?
    There's plenty of providers. Search the Buy&Sell section on this forum and then post here asking for feed back about the providers that you find your self interested in around your price range. Do you have a location you want, and extra options? Management seems the way to go for you, and cPanel.

    I've seen plenty today just browsing that fit your budget a decent cPanel VPS with management will start around $25+ to start and thats with promotions and stuff for a decent cpanel managed vps to start.

    I hope this helps, and welcome to WHT, It's a tricky game to find the right provider but aslong as you make sure your data is secure and you find a reliable provider and if you go managed.. You will be fine as you will grow to learn more things, and how to fix, and control of your VPS and how to run more of it your self, and management if anything ever goes wrong they will help you and ensure your services are always online!
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,766
    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    I've got about 40 domain names, 10 or so of which are used for active websites and the others mostly gather dust. I've been using VDS hosting for nearly 15 years, but I'd like to join the grown-up world and have my own VPS. I figured I'd use a trash domain name to learn my way around and then migrate everything once I get the hang of it.

    I want to be able to:
    - host multiple websites on multiple domains (obviously).
    - including POP e-mail access
    - host a few Wordpress blogs (with the pre-requisite SQL backend)
    - host a couple of phpbb discussion forums (SQL again)
    - host a minecraft server
    - maybe host a MUD just for fun
    - learn what the hell I'm doing in a VPS environment
    - I'm in Atlanta, and nearly everyone who pings my sites is in the US

    So, I have a ton of questions:
    - Do I need LAMP?

    - Do I need cPanel? What all will it let me do?

    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.

    - If I go with "managed" does that mean I have less control? Do I still have root access?

    - Holy cow there are a lot of hosts, and I can't tell one from the other. Is there an option for my, admittedly low-bandwidth, needs in the $20-$30/month range (if I need cPanel)?

    - What other questions should I be asking?

    Thanks very much for your time and help.
    You can try out a budget VPS from a host like Burst.net (I have one with them in the Los Angeles data center). For testing purposes, just pick an inexpensive VPS with 512MB of RAM (or even lower, you could choose a 256MB RAM VPS and still run a Wordpress site on it). These VPS might not work for your production VPS, but its an inexpensive way to get started, $5 to $6 a month, on a month-to-month basis. So for less than $20, you can find out if it will work for you.

    The basic VPS will allow you to choose an OS, and a VPS control panel will allow you to reinstall the OS to wipe the VPS clean and start over. You will do this a couple of times!

    I suggest the 32-bit version of CentOS; you can decide on a different flavor later, but CentOS is compatible with cPanel if you decide to add it. cPanel will add from $12 to $15 per month to your cost on a $6 VPS, so if you want to save money, I would start out "bare" and see how you do.

    Your VPS will have CentOS installed, but probably won't have a full LAMP server (in particular, usually MySql and PHP are not installed). I like HowTo Forge's guide on installing Apache2, MySql and PHP. Follow those steps and you'll have a basic installation ready for (a) website(s).

    If you are used to cPanel, you may wonder how to create "accounts" for your various domains on the VPS. You can look for tutorials on installing Webmin at this point, and tutorials for adding "virtual hosts", "VirtualHosts" or "vhosts". Webmin is a free control panel, although it requires doing things in "linux order" rather than having a single function that goes out and creates the user, makes the users directory, assigns the domain name to the directory, etc.

    I'm learning this process now, but only with a few of my own sites. I have some customers interested in having me manage a VPS for them, and a single site on a VPS is fairly easy to do.

    For my production sites and my customer's sites, I chose a managed VPS with a provider with a very good reputation (MDDHosting), and to be honest, I'll stay with them for a while. There's a lot to be said about the extra cost items that are included with my managed VPS. Some of the extra cost items that are included and my estimate of the cost on an unmanaged VPS: monitoring of the server in 5 minute increments ($10 per month), daily backups with 28 restore points ($10 per month), and cPanel/WHM ($15 per month). Add $35 to the cost of an unmanaged VPS and suddenly its not so great a deal ... unless you want to learn.

  10. #10
    Webmin is like training wheels, you should be studying the command line while you're using it.

    It's also a good idea to hide webmin behind a ssh port forward.
    Last edited by Question Everything; 04-24-2011 at 06:23 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    4,149
    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    [I want to be able to:
    - host multiple websites on multiple domains (obviously).
    - including POP e-mail access
    - host a few Wordpress blogs (with the pre-requisite SQL backend)
    - host a couple of phpbb discussion forums (SQL again)
    - host a minecraft server
    - maybe host a MUD just for fun
    - learn what the hell I'm doing in a VPS environment
    - I'm in Atlanta, and nearly everyone who pings my sites is in the US
    I suggest you separate the sites and minecraft.
    Minecraft is a total resource hog.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    So, I have a ton of questions:
    - Do I need LAMP?
    Generally, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    - Do I need cPanel? What all will it let me do?
    It's a nice "GUI" to make things easier.
    If you want to learn stuff, avoid this.
    If you want to get off the ground quickly, use this.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.
    I recommend Debian.
    They generally adopt the 'don't-touch-if-its-not-broken-or-insecure', which does wonders for keeping things stable and predictable.

    [QUOTE=CJoshuaV;7412592]- If I go with "managed" does that mean I have less control? Do I still have root access?[QUOTE=CJoshuaV;7412592]

    No and yes.
    You won't learn anything though.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    - Holy cow there are a lot of hosts, and I can't tell one from the other. Is there an option for my, admittedly low-bandwidth, needs in the $20-$30/month range (if I need cPanel)?
    With cPanel, unlikely if you want a good/reliable host, because it costs the host themselves $10/mo.
    I recommend against it anyways, its a bit of a resource hog.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    - What other questions should I be asking?
    Are you more interested in learning or starting off with stability right away? (No cPanel vs cPanel)
    Do you have the time and energy to learn and research/resolve problems? (No Management vs Management)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    1,627
    Quote Originally Posted by CJoshuaV View Post
    - Which OS? I haven't really found a clear comparison. CentOS seems really common, but I know nothing about it.
    CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). In fact CentOS is derived from RHEL source files, then any copyrighted images & trademarks are changed to open source. The only differences you'll find between RHEL & CentOS are the included images & trademarks, the package update service, and of course technical support. Admittedly, RHEL is heavily supported by Red Hat, while CentOS support is via community support. (I get my CentOS support mostly via Google searches.)

    The automatic package update service used by CentOS is "yum", which is the same community supported service created for Fedora (Red Hat's non-enterprise "free" product).

    I have no reason to believe that CentOS is superior to any other flavor of Linux, but I've always used Red Hat products so that's where my familiarity lies. I know the directory structure, where to find things, and how to get things done.

    A lot of people select CentOS because it's based on an enterprise product, but I have no specific information to lead me to the conclusion that RHEL & CentOS are superior to Fedora with respect to stability. I've run a production machine with Fedora in the past and had no issues with reliability. But CentOS being a free clone of RHEL, there is no real reason for me not to use the enterprise solution today.

    It's been said that more than 30% of all commercial web servers in the world use CentOS, and it's supported very well throughout the software industry. Most common software packages can be installed with a simple "yum" command, and all dependencies & updates are respected during the install process.

    I'm happy that the world Linux community seems to have finally settled on one open source enterprise platform. Simply put, CentOS is the open source operating system du jour.
    Last edited by ajonate; 04-25-2011 at 01:50 AM.

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