Category Archives: Internet

Be your own host!

Setting up your own web-server has never been easier or cheaper. It used to be that even a bottom tier Linux server included expensive setup costs, high monthly fees, poor performance, and little to no scalabilty. However, cloud computing has truly changed this.

With this project, I am hoping to help those who want to take the leap from just making websites to hosting them. Here are some reasons you might want to do this:

Far more control over the settings and tweaks. Whenever reading instructions on something you are installing, you may read “for those with root access…” Well, now that’s you! You can make all the changes and tweaks you desire.

Nearly infinite domain hosting with email addresses and databases. Okay, there are limits to the server, but for most small sites the load is so small that it won’t reach the limits of the server, and if the load does get that high, it takes only a few minutes to increase the size of the server.

Your site can handle spikes in traffic. If a popular aggregator, blogger or news site links into your site, you can easily increase the size of the server to handle load, and then decrease the size when the traffic slows down again, and all for minimal increase in your monthly cost (assuming you’re not serving videos or other large files).

A dedicated IP address. Most shared hosting plans charge extra for an IP address.

Real SSL, without any scary warnings. With the dedicated IP address, you can now serve up real, authenticated SSL/TLS encrypted websites to your visitors sans obnoxious warnings.

Secure web browsing while away from home. You can easily use your Linux server as a SOCKS proxy through an SSH session, completely locking out any prying eyes that might be snooping around the coffee shop network.

Something to always tinker with and improve. Like any good hobby, server administration is something that you will forever tinker with, improve, and learn. With a smartphone you can manage your server from any location, so if you find yourself standing around bored some place, just pull out your phone and go to work on your hobby.

Of course, there are some downsides:

You’re now taking your destiny into your own hands, and security risks are very real. It’s possible your server could get hacked and ruined, forcing you to start over from scratch. You might make a mistake that destroys your server and then discover that your backup method had a fatal flaw, forcing you to start from scratch.

There is a lot to learn, and it often seems like the errors in the logs will never stop coming and all too often are self-generated. I once spent 6 hours tracking down a problem that was caused by a missing semi-colon.

You are heavily dependent on the kindness of strangers. Although Rackspace provides great support for the servers, for everything else you’re going to be scouring forums, digging deeper into Google searches than you ever have before, and you’ll discover StackExchange (that’s good and bad). You’ll be posting many places, praying someone there can help you to solve your problem so you can bring your server to the next level.

So if none of that turned you away, then I invite you to visit my project page.