I recently switched from Aplus.net shared Unix hosting to Linode Xen-based VPS hosting. Follow the jump to read my reviews of both. I had a shared Unix account with Aplus.net for about a year. Aplus used FreeBSD with jails to provide their shared hosting. While that gave me the ability to ssh into the box, I could not get root. It did however, work quite well - the control panel is nice, and you could use about anything you wanted to. I never needed to use their support, their control panel worked great, and I never had any issues with billing. There were two drawbacks, one minor, the other major: 1. The box was firewalled to death. I’m all for firewalls, but I like to be in control of it. Not only were inbound ports blocked (which is a good thing), but all outbound access was blocked as well. This made hard things impossible, and easy things hard. For example, adding a simple RSS widget to your page hosted on Aplus just will not work. 2. The particular box I was on was severely over-sold. I have no idea how many shared accounts there were on the box, but there were times where my simple little wordpress blog was completely unavailable. $12 a month is cheap, but I at least expect to be able to render pages!
After doing a bunch of research, my choice for a new hosting provider was down to Linode and SliceHost. In the end, I settled on Linode because I was reading some grumblings that SliceHost was having some growing pains, and I couldn’t find any negatives to Linode. So, at 10:57pm on July 30th, I started the sign up process for a Linode 540 in their Dallas datacenter. At 11:07pm that night (10 minutes later!) I had full access to my server. Very impressive! By 11pm on July 31st, I had moved my blog from Aplus to Linode without any hitches. First, let me tell you what Linode is and isn’t. - Linode isa provider of Xen-based virtualized hosts. This means you get to pick which distribution you want, and you get your own root account with which you can do what you feel like. - Linode providesa DNS Manager included with all their plans that allows you have full control over any number of domains. I had no idea this existed until I signed up, and it was a great little side benefit. I was able to cancel my DNS service at a registrar that I was paying $15 a year for. - Linode providesyou with a Xen instance with 4 cores of Xeon for CPU, and a configurable amount of RAM, bandwidth, and storage. - Linode providesa out-of-band management tool named lish (LInode SHell) which gives you console level access to your server. There is also an AJAX web-based console interface available. - Linode providesyou with everything you need to build your own server. You may do with this server what you like, provided it’s for law-abiding activities. You have the ability to create your own partitions, upgrade your kernel, install packages, whatever! - Linode providesyou with more than enough rope with which you can hang yourself! This is a logical extension of the above point. If you have root, you can most certainly do a ‘rm -rf /’ and no one will stop to ask you if you’re sure or not. - Linode is notyour run-of-the-mill webhoster. If you want to run your own LAMP stack, you are more than welcome to do so. However, youare responsible for the setup and maintanence of the entire stack. There’s no cute little control panel button you click to setup a blog. If you don’t know Linux, and don’t want to learn how to do these sort of things, you’re better off with a provider such as Aplus.net.
After signing up, you get to pick which data center you want your server to be hosted in. Here are their current datacenters: - Newark, NJ - Atlanta, GA - Dallas, TX - Fremont, CA
You can view what servers are available in what datacenters here. Here are some of Linode’s support options: - A quick FAQ - A Wiki - A public support forum which employees take part in regularly - An IRC channel - A support ticket system for active customers - There is a phone number posted on their site, but I don’t think it’s intended to be used for support issues.
After just two days of running my own Linode, I must say that I’m thoroughly impressed. Uptime is 100%, and I haven’t needed support for anything at all. My blog runs as it should - and if it didn’t it would be my fault for not setting it up properly. I will update this post in the future with more data as I learn more about the service. Also, if you’d like to give Linode a try and have enjoyed this post, consider visiting their site by clicking on any of the Linode links present in this post. They contain a referral code that will give me $20 credit if you sign up and stay a customer for 30 days.