Welcome Back

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve now found my bloggy blog at its new home on a VPS from Linode.

Why I’ve decided to move my blog is a tale of pain and woe. And one that I’m sure you would love to hear. So here goes!

The Past

Way back in Feb of 2006, I signed up for lifetime hosting at a little company called textdrive. They had a plan called the “Mixed Grill” for $499 which promised free web hosting for “as long as they exist”.

The idea was that you were paying up front as a way for the company to raise cash immediately to build out their infrastructure in exchange for a lifetime of limited hosting. I liked the idea and plunked down the cash. I got a slice of a FreeBSD box and was happy.

Not long after I joined, Textdrive became Joyent, and slowly started to add cloud capabilities on top of their shared hosting.

In 2007, I plunked down another $500 to take advantage of more storage and bandwidth offered by the 3 Martini Lunch plan.

Quickly following, Joyent decided to swap their architecture over to Solaris, and started the Shared Accelerators. They encouraged everyone on the older FreeBSD servers to migrate over. Because I was hosting about 6-7 domains and multiple wordpress and movable type installs, the migration process was going to be a bear, and because Joyent offered no help in the migration, I put it off for a long as I could. This turned out to be a huge mistake.

As time went on, Joyent left these FreeBSD servers running, but essentially allowed them to rot. I was more or less okay with this as the occasional downtime wasn’t a big deal with the stuff I was hosting. All was well.

In 2012, Joyent dropped the bomb on it’s lifetime customers. At first they basically told us to get fucked. It was only after a tremendous outcry that they reconsidered and offered to either refund our money or give 5 years of credit for a new shared hosting account. Jason Hoffman was tired of our shit, but he also didn’t want to deal with our whining any more.

That’s when Dean Allen rode back into the picture on his white horse. Dean was one of the co-founders of Textdrive who left after the Joyent acquisition. He offered to restart Textdrive as a new company and take all of us lifetime support customers under his wing. Woooo. I opted to move over to Textdrive with the promise of an automatic transition process to the new servers.

The Present

Unfortunately the new Textdrive has been a bungled affair from the start. They’ve constantly missed deadlines, screwed up migrations and ignored support tickets and calls. Remember when I said staying on the older FreeBSD machines was a mistake? Yeah. Textdrive transitioned me over, without any notice, to the new machines months after the original deadline. These machines were running newer versions of PHP and Apache which nuked the majority of my sites. I didn’t know until about a week later. I submitted a ticket, and hit them up on twitter only to get crickets in response.

I waited a few days for support, but it never came. I decided to see what I could do on my own. After a few hours of digging around their abysmal wiki, I figured out what happened, and what the new file paths and install versions were. I was able to get my sites back up and running, but I had no access to any admin tools like phpMyAdmin, or webmin. So I had no way to do a clean database dump from my numerous sites. But at least the sites were up. I had time to let Textdrive work out the remaining kinks.

That was, until about 10 days ago when MySQL on a number of their FreeBSD machines died due to a catastrophic disk error, bringing my sites down again. This is still not fixed. And ever in good form, Textdrive sent no notice. They say they are trying to recover from backup, but who knows when or if that will happen. I’ve put in another ticket and tried to contact them twice on twitter to just have me moved to a new host and they have completely ignored me. The status page on these migrations hasn’t been updated in over a month.

Time to move on.

So I am now faced with a choice. Find a new host, or host it myself. I looked at a lot of options, but I’ve resolved myself to never use shared hosting again, so it was down to dedicated hardware, or virtual hosting like Linode.

Dedicated hardware is stupidly expensive, and I don’t make money on my blogs, so that’s out. Linode is very tempting, but when I looked at what they had to offer, it became clear that I should just spin up my own VM. I have a machine at home that already hosts 3 virtual servers, adding another would be trivial.

So I went this route and set everything up. Unfortunately it turns out that Cox blocks incoming port 80 to the world. Ugh. Lots of wasted time.

So back to Linode! Linode makes setting up a new VPS surprisingly painless, but it’s never fun setting up a LAMP stack from scratch. But after a few hours of re-teaching myself server admin stuff I haven’t done in years, I’m back up and running.

In case you can’t tell from the rest of the post, I’d really advise against hosting anything with Textdrive or Joyent.

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