Debian vs DH packages



so… I am an old geek and used debian for years, i used other VPS services, DH is new to me as of today - just got my DH vps set up, and I see there is a lot of dream host specific packages installed…

I already turned off so that dreamhost panel doesnt manage anything, from the panel. Now when on the host, I would like to gut and remove all the dreamhost specific packages and just install standard debian ones, like apache and php…

I am not going to have a heavily loaded server or anything - I did see the notes about using the available mysql-servers rather than installing my own, that is fine with me, but other than that, is there any compelling reasons for me to not dpkg --purge all the ndn/dh packages, change sources.list and get the system on a standard debian base?

the DH wiki has little to no info on vps - perhaps there is some info somewhere on minimal backdoors that DH needs and whatnot (I find it interresting they need a custom rsync package for instance).

here is the list of packages I found with some grepping of dpkg -l
I can see how ndn-vserver is probably something to keep around…


ii ndn-analog 1.1-36.20 helper stats scripts ii ndn-apache-helper 1.0-14 just some extra stuff for apache ii ndn-apache22 2.2.22-14 Dreamhost Apache 2.2 package ii ndn-apache22-modcband mod_cband for apache2.2 ii ndn-apache22-modcloudflare 1.02-1 <insert up to 60 chars description> ii ndn-apache22-modfastcgi 2.4.6-4.2 mod_fastcgi, FastCGI for apache 2.2 ii ndn-apache22-modfcgid 2.3.6-2 apache 2.2 mod_cgids ii ndn-apache22-modlimitipconn 0.23-1 mod_limitipconn apache2.2 module ii ndn-apache22-modpagespeed Apache 2 module to optimize web content. ii ndn-apache22-modsecurity2 2.6.6-3 mod_security2 package for apache 2.2 ii ndn-apache22-modxsendfile 0.12-1 xsendfile module for apache22 ii ndn-apache22-php5 5.2.17-3 php5 mod_php for apache22 ii ndn-apache22-svn 1.6.12-2 Subversion server modules for Apache ii ndn-autoupdate 1.0-18 Auto-update packages from a DreamHost profile ii ndn-crontab 1.0-6.2 crontab wrapper script for enforcing MAILTO variables ii ndn-daemontools 0.76-12.2 ndn install of daemontools ii ndn-darwinss 5.5.5-2.4 Darwin Streaming Server for DreamHost ii ndn-dh-base 1.1.0-18.30 DH base package ii ndn-dh-web-missing 1.0.0-7.2 <insert up to 60 chars description> ii ndn-dh-web-parking 1.0.0-8.4 DreamHost parking page ii ndn-dh-web-phpmyadmin Handles the administration of one or more MySQL servers over the web. Written in PHP. ii ndn-java java jdk and jre ii ndn-keyring 1.0-20091206 Signing keys for NDN packages. ii ndn-lighttpd 1.4.28-3 Lighttpd ii ndn-mailcerts 1.0-11.3 <imapd.pem and pop3.pem> ii ndn-misc 2.0-6 misc ndn scripts and stuff ii ndn-miva 5.07+ssl-2 miva empressa software ii ndn-netsaint-nrpe 2.0-9.2 netsaint plugins and nrpe stuff ii ndn-netsaint-plugins 1.4.14-31 netsaint nrpe plugins ii ndn-nginx 0.8.53.passenger300-6 HTTP server and mail proxy server written by Igor Sysoev ii ndn-passenger 3.0.17-5 Phusion Passenger (mod_rails) ii ndn-php4-compat 1.0-4 php4 compatibility links ii ndn-php5-cgi 5.2.17-8 php5 cgi interpreter ii ndn-php5-mongo 1.0.2-2 mongo PHP module ii ndn-php5-xcache 1.2.2-5 xcache for php5 ii ndn-php53 5.3.13-1.1 PHP 5.3 interpreters ii ndn-php53-mongo 1.1.3-2 Mongo for PHP 5.3 ii ndn-php53-suhosin 0.9.32-2 Suhosin for PHP 5.3 ii ndn-safetynet 1.15-17.2 <insert up to 60 chars description> ii ndn-vserver 1.0-2.2 vserver meta package ii ndn-whois-helper 0.1-1 <insert up to 60 chars description> ii rsync 3.0.9-2 Dreamhost port of 3.0.9


All of the stuff in there (including ndn-vserver, which is just a metapackage) is unnecessary if you aren’t using our management tools.

The custom rsync package is just a slightly newer version than what Debian has packaged. We backported that to resolve a security issue with Debian’s rsync 3.0.7-2 package — the application itself is not modified from the “upstream” source.

DISCLAIMER: the following information isn’t tested, and may break your VPS. Consider yourself warned.

For what it’s worth, an easy way about this is to remove our package server from sources.list, update, then remove all packages which show up in the “Obsolete and Locally Created” section of aptitude. (From the command line, “aptitude remove ‘~o’” should work.)


Awesome - thank you


here is an update to this, just for others if trying, and a couple of questions as well - I know this is way outside the scope of support…

it does appear I made my machine init scripts not run properly on shutdown, even a -f does not bring it down (it kills ssh and apache so I have no insight after that)… After 10 minutes of ping replies never ending, I issued a reboot from the dh panel, I dont know what that process does, I assume it sends power-button signal or something, and perhaps a hard reset if no response within a certain time, who knows (?), it takes about 8 minutes from a panel-reboot command till it actually reboots.

so, couple of questions for anyone who might know;

is there any user accessible console anywhere?
other vps hosts I deal with usually have some sort of interface for this, wether vnc based or redirected console stream.

is there any options for more granular control of the vm?
such as sending a power-signal, vm-reset or power-off/on options

other then the dreamhost entries for sources list, is the vm os based on some certain vserver distro or something?

so, just some info for others who might attempt this… Some of the issues I had are listed below.
This installation really seems heavily customized, like why wouldn’t there be a /dev/initctl ? it has a lot of custom packages, it might be related to security updates and such, but it kind of sucks when some core packages are custom… itwas a lot of work and hairpulling, I dont know why but I had quite the few issues getting the packages aligned to debian standard, I found that doing a purge on all the dh pakages was the quickest way to get started, removed all the dh sources, added debian ones and updated, removed the dh entries first, then went through the rest of the obsolete/local ones… I finally got it all down to a bare standard with apache and php, had some issues here and there, had to manually delete quite a few things which the packages didnt do cleanly, such as /etc/perl - and I did --reinstall on several core items, probably didnt need them all but doing that on all the packages I could think of related to the current issue got it solved in most cases. Some manual fumbling on package selection to get rid of courier (change MTA).

/dev/initctl did not exist, I did some --reinstall of init, base, and sysv packages, the node was created, but still there are issues, a reboot command shows this:shutdown: timeout opening/writing control channel /dev/initctl init: timeout opening/writing control channel /dev/initctlthen returns to shell,
a reboot -f, like mentioned, kills ssh and apache, and probably a ton of other stuff, but still wont reboot… for now I will just have to do a -f and then wait 8 minutes for the panel reboot to finish.
some day I’ll get back to figuring out the init scripts - a bit tough to work on without a console available.

During my cleanup I had the sources list down to this
deb http://some.mirror.dom/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free
deb squeeze/updates main contrib non-free

Then I added this after the cleanup was done, for some availability
deb squeeze-backports main contrib non-free

I also went in and set my apache start-servers and min/max spare servers to very low numbers - as my vm is one with little memory.

I am not all done cleaning out yet, but the system is functional (except the shutdown issue), if anyone wants a copy of the dpkg --get-selections they are at for now


DreamHost VPS is based on Linux-VServer. It’s not a “full” virtual machine, so some things (like a console, and “normal” init) aren’t available.

I’m not 100% sure what’s going on with your reboot. A reboot through the panel just ends up calling “vserver $guestname restart”… my guess is that it’s just ending up trying to call “reboot” within the guest again, then killing/restarting the context when that times out.

Nope. It’s Debian, like all of our servers, just with some custom packages added.

For what it’s worth, we do have some plans in the works to offer a “vanilla”, unmanaged Debian install for VPS customers at some point in the future.


Was wondering if there was any news on the ‘vanilla’ vps image? I have just contacted support to update my vps to Squeeze, as I am still on Lenny, but i would be interested in just running non-dh packages.


I wish to thank stokkeland for his interesting and valuable info.

I’m too interested in this.


+1 vanilla (vVPS)
would be epic to have a true VPS, including modprobe, mknod, /dev/tun, yadayada :wink:


The features you are asking about are unlikely to ever be available under DreamHost VPS, I’m afraid. This has nothing to do with the “vanilla” (or otherwise) status of the Linux install on the system and everything to do with Linux-VServer, the virtualization software we’re using for DreamHost VPS.

If you really do need these features, you will probably be interested in our upcoming cloud computing product, DreamCompute.