Im considering a Code Monster plan, but Id like to know exactly what ‘full unix shell’ entails. Since these plans dont appear to be true VPSes, I can only assume that root access isnt given. Does anyone know if apt-get works or if Id have access to /usr/local?
Correct, you do not have root access, you log-in to the shell using a standard Unix user and write privileges are (as far as I know) restricted to that users home directory.
apt-get is available, but, due to the above mentioned write restrictions, it is unlikely to be of much use to you.
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Just a note about shell access. You can install many applications your self by compiling from scratch - you just have to set it to install in your home directory instead of the default. Even something like PHP can be installed in this manner.