The mother of all pre-sales inquiries


#1

We’ve been hosted with PowWeb for several years now. They were acquired this year by Endurance. Service was going downhill before the purchase but after we had to migrate our sites to the Endurance servers, service really took a downturn and we’re looking for a new host. Any former PW people here?

Here are the problems we’re trying to solve in migration. I’d appreciate feedback from anyone to any or all of the following topics to help make our decision.

At PW, all FTP users have read/write access to any directory they can see. We need read-only access to provide software updates to our clients, otherwise someone might accidentally delete the files. We’re using .htaccess fancy indexes now to provide read-only HTTP access for file downloads.

We have clients that don’t get our email because PW is using SPF and SRS. (This is one of our top issues) We like SPF but it does have its downside. Comments? I don’t suppose there’s any way to send mail from our domain where some accounts go through a DH SPF-enabled server and others don’t? Any similar issues here at DH?

We’re having a problem sorting mail on the client side because PW is now adding a ton of Received headers as well as Spam Assassin headers and others. They didn’t used to do that, and we didn’t have mail problems. Now that they’ve made these changes we’re having problems and it’s yet another compelling reason to leave. Can procmail eliminate defined headers, or is there any other way to do this on the server so that we have an easier time on the clients? Can procmail filtering add or remove headers? Can we put something else on the server to do this?

Are there standard procmail filters that are updated regularly which help to filter/mark the latest patterns used by spammers? I’m thinking of updated virus definitions, etc. PowWeb uses Spam Assassin like DH does, but we still get a ton of spam leaking through, and the obvious text should make it easy to filter. I just don’t want to have to go through all of this vigilance on my own.

PW is driving us away with issues related to people not getting our mail or us not receiving mail. Some of this has to do with AOL or other ‘powerhouses’ blocking entire class C IP blocks (namely that of our hosted SMTP servers) because too many of their users hit the “Report as Spam” button too quickly, even for mail they subscribe to. A large number of hosted domains get blocked because some idiots can’t manage their lists. How bad are these problems at DH, with email servers getting blocked occasionally?

I see DH supports email discussion lists, but can I load my own like DadaMail? I also use WordPress, Mantis Bug Tracker, Simple Machines forum, and SquirrelMail. Any problems that require some creative coding to support these?

Can we access MySQL from non-DH hosts? What if I want a thick-client app to reach into MySQL for data?

What about the opposite: socket calls to hosts outside of DH? I have other databases and web services that I’d like to poll.

Can we access Subversion from outside? I’d like to be able to write code locally and use the DH Subversion RCS for a repository.

Anyone using Mono here? GForge? (I know, stretching it…)

If I transfer one domain, can I still register another domain using the free registration feature, and host both domains in the same space but under different htdocs paths?

Might be a dumb question : the DH wiki text for Sub-Domains uses www.foo.bar.com as an example. Is the ‘www’ on a subdomain required? Can’t we send people to “foo.bar.com”? We’re already doing this on our site and I don’t want to have to add the silly www references everywhere.

Thank you sincerely.


#2

Wow, talk about a loaded question. lol. I’ll try to answer what I can but it sounds like you know more about the net and servers than I do.
The ftp access is read and write as this server is concidered to be a full access server. Meaning its up to the end user to figure out how to make everything work. That being said, DH does support htaccess files and fancy indexes. so that portion should be about the same as you are using now.
Has for SPF and SRS I don’t have a clue to what you mean. The mail server here is both pop3 and imap which is excessable via external email reader or the included squirrelMail. I have heard of users changing the email settings so they can use another email server.
The spam filters are only on when you turn them on, like I said earlier its left up to you. I personally leave them off and let Norton handle everything.
As mentioned earlier squirrelmail is included as is wordpress plus a few other open source programs like phpbb.
I have heard of others connecting to the mysql databases from an external source. I have also heard of users connecting to their home computers from DH. (Ex. instead of setting up a website on DH they would set it up on their home computer and DH would point to their home computer.)
As for domains, the www is optional, therefore “http://example.website.com” would work.
The only problem that I know of is using a background running program or deamon is frowned upon, because they are using up cpu cycles on a shared server, so uploaded server programs are out.
I hope I was able to answer some of your questions, and hopefully someone with a little more knowledge can fill in the blanks.
In the end I really love using this server. My down time has been minimal including their recent problems. So I really can’t complain.
Silk

My website


#3

Hi and welcome to the forums.

Man, when you ask questions, you ASK QUESTIONS!

I am not a big user of DreamHost email, so I’ll leave the email related questions for others :stuck_out_tongue: , but I’ll do my best to answer some of your other questions.

Here at DreamHost, the FTP users that you create are basically full *nix users. This gives you all the versatility and restrictions that come with such users. For example, logging in via FTP with a particular users credentials will only give you access to that user’s home directory, which will contain the web accessible directories for any domains and sub-domains that they control. Creating shared FTP directories that can be read/written by multiple users can be problematic due to permission issues, but there are ways this can be achieved (using groups for example).

Yes, you can configure a list of valid external hosts for each database user.

I have not personally tried this, but I don’t imagine it would be a problem. Although, it may be best to check with DreamHost support before ticking this one off your list.

The ‘free’ registration is actually a domain registration credit. If you choose not to register a domain during the sign-up process, you can use the credit later. I am not sure whether transferring a domain during the sign-up process will use your registration credit, but I suspect it will as the transferred registration will be extended by 12 months as part of the transfer.

All domains and sub-domains here at DreamHost have their own web accessible directories and are pretty much independent from each other.

The ‘www’ is optional and the behavior is configurable during initial domain setup.

No problem. I know I have missed many of your questions, but hopefully others will chip in and eventually we can cover everything you need to know. :slight_smile:

Mark


Save [color=#CC0000]$50[/color] on DreamHost hosting using promo code [color=#CC0000]SAVEMONEY[/color] ( Click for promo code details )


#4

Well, at least there’s one I can answer that isn’t answered aleady. :wink:

The subversion version on DH is 1.1.4, which for long hasn’t even had official support anymore, so I wouldn’t recommend using it. I don’t know what exactly has happened since then (I think the most recent version is 1.4.2), but I tried using it and found some rather odd behaviour.

If you do want to try svn out at DH, you have two ways of connecting to the repos:

  1. svn ssh works, so your path would be like svn ssh://user@yourdomain.com/home/user/svn/repos/trunk

  2. Via the panel, you can make webaccessible repos (both public and private), manage user control, etc. Then your repos would be on http://svn.yourdomain.com/repos/trunk (the subdomain and repos path is optional, you could put one repository on every subdomain, eg. http://repos1.yourdomain.com/trunk etc.). You authenticate with http basic auth.

But I’ve set up my own (virtual) server at home to handle svn, in a more recent version. If someone finds free or very cheap svn hosting somewhere, let me know.

Good luck with everything!

Cheers

EDIT:
On second thought, I think it is actually possible to install/compile your own version of subversion, I don’t know how that works, though. Maybe some cool nerd with an overview could answer that. :wink:

Like my help? Enter promo code 2FORME and you get the maximum off for your plan, minus 2$ - for me. :slight_smile:


#5

Re: SPF

DH doesn’t require SPF records for a domain. You can add your own, since you have control over the DNS, but there isn’t a definitive list of outbound mail servers.

You ask about “send mail…through a DH SPF-enabled server”, but this question doesn’t make sense. SPF records are associated with a domain and checked when receiving mail; the outbound mail server doesn’t do anything with SPF. You can setup a subdomain without SPF records and use that for email.

procmail can call the formail tool to add/remove headers. DH doesn’t add a lot of headers to incoming mail, so this probably won’t be an issue in the first place.

I don’t use the standard DH spam filtering; instead I install my own version of SpamAssassin. I know that there are procmail-based anti-spam tools, and you should be able to install one of those, if that’s what you prefer, but you would have to maintain it.


#6

Good info, thanks folks. The user community is strong at PowWeb, like this one, which was one of the selling points. Most hosts don’t even have forums, I don’t bother looking at them after I find out. DH seems like one of the most err, liberal hosts I’ve ever seen - let’s call it a lack of unnecessary restrictions - very kool.

About SPF, the problem is that the Return-Path that’s generated from our SMTP server is treated as spam by other servers that don’t recognize SPF - or maybe it’s a different implementation that they’re using. The net result is that I need to send mail from a different server that doesn’t create such a heavily munged header line. I hope that makes more sense - I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, I only know what was required to diagnose and explain the problems to our host and our trading partners, and when we couldn’t get the problem fixed on the host I started looking elsewhere.

About FTP, it would sure help if I could just CHMOD a directory as 755 and then assign FTP users to a non-owner group so that none of these secondary users have write access. Is that possible?

More about the other stuff later, I don’t want to monopolize your time more than I have. Thanks again!!!


#7

Your questions are more difficult, perhaps, but you’ll have to work some more to take the record on quantity:

http://wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/116_Common_Questions

You are welcome to a refund.-Michael;Comparing ‘DH of today’ with ‘DH of old’ does not serve much purpose.-Dallas


#8

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is quite this easy with FTP, as each FTP user has their own home directory and is restricted to that home directory. Although, something along these lines can probably be configured using SFTP, which is not subject to the home directory restriction.

Perhaps a simpler solution would be to use HTTP and a password-protected directory, with a username/password list for your users. This can very easily be achieved through the web panel, or manually by creating your own .htaccess file for the directory.

Mark


Save [color=#CC0000]$50[/color] on DreamHost hosting using promo code [color=#CC0000]SAVEMONEY[/color] ( Click for promo code details )


#9

I’ve got to be the one to play Devil’s Advocate here… E-mail problems were actually one of the major reasons I took my most critical sites away from Dreamhost a few months ago. Earlier this year DH was having huge problems with mail servers being blocked by SpamCop and other services, and a lot of my e-mail wasn’t received or ended up in recipients’ spam buckets. This was unacceptable.

Since then Dreamhost has claimed to have gotten better, though I can’t offer evidence of that. I’ve brought my sites back to them after reexamining the value proposition, but I no longer allow them to host e-mail for most of my domains. I use a third-party service, Webmail.us, which does nothing but e-mail, does it very professionally, and charges a dollar per account per month. It’s worth it to me.


#10

Funny, I have yet to have any emails bounce. But then again my volume of emails is probably quite a bit lower than yours. Don’t know if this makes a difference ot not but DH does have a 100 emails per hour limit. It may be possible to up the limit, but must be requested.
Silk

My website


#11

Volume wasn’t my problem. I was sending perhaps 5 to 20 e-mail messages per day.

The problem was that the e-mail messages I was sending were really important, and too many of them weren’t getting to their recipients. They weren’t bouncing; the other people just never saw them.


#12

if u control your own DOMAIN and DNS records just add the extra smtp server. I do that, I dont have any trouble with sending email from a diferent location to where I have my domain hosted.
see: http://www.openspf.com/


BUGabundo :o)
(``-_-´´)
http://BrinKadeiraS.BUGabundo.net


#13

I don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea to continue my inquiry here, but here goes.

I’m ready to make the jump to DH. This promo code thing is obviously a good deal but the implementation seems a little erm, amateurish. Rather than using one of the 100 promo codes seen in this forum isn’t the real procedure just a matter of calling up, verifying that I’m a new customer, and getting the discounted rate?

Are MySQL databases hosted on the same servers as the HTTP pages? Just wondering for security/performance purposes.

After we load up all of our data, and before we hit the name server switch for the new IP address to propagate, how do we test our site? I’d like to somehow verify database, apps, htaccess customizations, etc, to ensure everything is working before returning people error 404 or 500 because I missed something.

We’ve decided to host email with another provider until we are more familiar with DH. Our current host provides control pages something like CPanel for maintenance of DNS records. Can we set our A/MX/CNAME records here at DH too, or do I need to work that out with my registrar (GoDaddy) now?

Sorry if I haven’t completely R’d TFM before posting. Thanks again!


#14

In case there is a backlash of outrage at my stupidity and lack of community sense … If the proper way to get the big credit is to use the referral key from one of the generous people offering information here, please just let me know. I thought I’d post this to let you know that I’m not completely ignorant of such things, just occasionally absent minded. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the momentary lapse of reason.


#15

Nope, if you want the discount you need to use a promo-code :slight_smile:

The promo-codes are (mostly) created by users as a way to share their $97 referral reward with new customers. If you would prefer to use a DreamHost supplied code, you could always use the 9999 DreamHost anniversary code, which may (or may not) still be active, this provides a $99.99 discount on your first purchase.

No, the MySQL databases are located on separate servers.

There are a couple of methods for doing this, the most popular seems to be the one detailed in the DreamHost wiki where you create a free dreamhosters.com sub-domain and set it to mirror your real domain.

http://www.wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/DNS_-_Viewing_site_before_DNS_change
http://www.wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/DNS_-_Accessing_your_Database_before_DNS_change

You can create all the DNS records you require via the DreamHost admin panel.

Mark


Save [color=#CC0000]$50[/color] on DreamHost hosting using promo code [color=#CC0000]SAVEMONEY[/color] ( Click for promo code details )


#16

I was reading those wiki FAQs while you were typing your response. :slight_smile: Thanks.

Final questions I think…

My Registrar is Go Daddy. I don’t see a need to change that but the DH wiki makes it seem like a foregone conclusion that DH is going to assume the role of registrar as well as host. Is this correct? Can’t I just leave that relationship with Go Daddy alone?

The wiki says the change over should not happen within 60 days of renewal of registration (or something like that). Our auto-renewal for our domain registration is occurring within the next couple days. Do I really need to wait 2 months to shift hosts??

Big duh there… Thanks.


#17

Yep, sure you can. You just need to modify the DNS information for your domain(s), using the whatever configuration utility that GoDaddy provides, to point at the DreamHost DNS servers (ns1.dreamhost.com, ns2.dreamhost.com, ns3.dreamhost.com).

This would only apply if you were transferring the domain registrations to DreamHost. Anyway, I don’t think the 60 days applies to renewals, I believe it only applies to initial registrations, but I could be wrong here.

Mark


Save [color=#CC0000]$50[/color] on DreamHost hosting using promo code [color=#CC0000]SAVEMONEY[/color] ( Click for promo code details )


#18

As Mark already pointed out, that only has to do with the transfer of domain registrations between registrars, and really only applicable with a “new” domain (not a renewal).

You can generally shift hosts whenever you want, irrespective of where the involved domains are registered. One of the nicest things about this is the ability to develop a site on one host while the present “live”: site is still displayed on another (thanks to DNS).

Mark also pointed you to how to view stuff on DH wile you “live” site is still hosted at another host. Leaving it this way during a transition is really useful because when you “flip the switch” to change DNS to Dreamhost, one or the other of the sites will always show to a visitor while DNS is updated across the internet. Computers accessing the domain via the “new”, or “updated”, DNS will see the DH hosted site, while computers accessing via the “unchanged” DNS will see the “old” site - end result being no “down time”. :slight_smile:

–rlparker