To dream or not to dream... that is the question!


#1

I’ve been looking at DreamHost as a possible switchover from Site5. I’m happy with Site5 (my current host), but they do annoy me sometimes… one thing that drives me nuts is that their cPanel system makes the shell painful to use sometimes and there are times when my server is too overloaded with others’ inefficient scripts/database queries and as a result my website suffers because of one runaway script. This happens very rarely, but it does happen…

Anyway, on to DreamHost… I have the following questions:

  1. Tell me a tad about your infrastructure… do you use virtualization (not VPS) in any shape or form for your shared hosting boxes? Do you at least virtualize your storage (use a SAN/NAS)? Some of your wiki pages re: snapshots and backups suggest that you use NetApp filer(s). Is that true?

  2. With the “multiple sites” and “multiple accounts” feature, can I create several accounts that are restricted to editing their websites only? The control panel seemed to suggest that, I just want to doublecheck.

  3. Are webhosting accounts permanently bound to a given physical box? Let’s say if I am not happy with the performance or stability track record of a given server, may I request for my account(s) to be transferred over to another physical box without having to move things manually? Should be trivial with a normal UNIX account, but apparently “impossible” with cPanel accounts… :frowning:

  4. I was looking at http://patrtan.dreamhosters.com/promo.php for promo codes. Hence my question: when a promo code says that something extra is given (like 3 free extra domains), does that mean “forever” (as long as I remain a customer) or only for the first term?

  5. The signup page bragged about the DNS editing, claiming that it’s so flexible that it’s actually possible to break one’s DNS zone. That actually sounds appealing to me :slight_smile: as I do consider myself to be a power user (I work as a Linux sysadmin for a living), but let’s say if I want to host my DNS elsewhere for whatever reason, can I change my name servers, or do I have to use yours as my authoritative name servers? Can I use your DNS servers as zone slaves, rather than zone masters?

  6. One of my projects is going to be hosting my gigantic photo library. I actually want to use something like Gallery2 or Coppermine to host my 12 gig photo collection. Obviously, that’s going to be one heck of an initial upload and it’s going to look like I’m using the account for “backup” purposes. Would that pose a problem with the terms of service? Let’s presume that it did (although it shouldn’t, IMO, since I am uploading web content, technically), would you just nuke my entire account (including any associated accounts for other websites)? Would you give me some sort of warning first? How do you respond to “abuse” claims anyway?

That’s all for now… I might have more later. :slight_smile:


#2

The environment here is a purer unix structure than the more common “cpanel webhosts” catering to the shared market. Out of the box, users can edit/control their own space only. You can setup UNIX groups to allow sharing of files, but for the most part the user is the only one who accesses their space without some admin’ing on your part in the backend.

I read when moving here that you can request, without explanation, that your account be moved to another server. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the link to that particular blurb, but contacting Sales will put your mind at ease regarding that.

That means for the life of the account. If you keep the account active you get account ‘credits’ each year end that may be applied to things such as re-registering, or transferring, or creating domains.

You can edit A, CNAME, TXT, MX, NS, SRV directly in Panel.

You have infinite plus disk space. If the website points at the content there should be no contention.

Highly unlikely, unless you were breaking the TOS (copyright, etc.)

If you’re breaking the TOS you aren’t likely to be warned by any provider.

Dilligently… and with a very big stick :wink:

Honestly, I don’t know as I’ve never had to deal with abuse claims, and the ones you read about you only ever get the perps side of the story. The ones who have made a bit of noise after the fact (at least around here) have invariably been punted for obvious and blatant abuse.

DreamHost is a really good provider all told.

If you want to check out the Panel PM me and I’ll setup a user for you to have a poke about with.

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#3

Hi!

First of all, you’re not talking to DH on this forum, but to customers.

I have a few additions to sXi.

  1. Right now DH uses NetApp, but because of continued problems (if a filer goes, dozens of webservers die too) and some other reasons they are planning to move hosting to local disks in the server itself.

The webservers are not virtualized (but if you get a Dreamhost PS, you get a managed VPS with guaranteed resources). DH has separate servers for webhosting and MySQL. The webserver running several independent instanced of Apache, sometimes one dies, but the others keep running. Every time you add a domain or subdomain it’s randomly added to one of the Apache instances.

  1. You are not permanently bound to a box. Once when I felt my webserver was overloaded and kept crashing they moved me to a new server. Some time later they also moved me to a different and faster MySQL server. DH transfers over all your stuff, you don’t have to worry.

  2. No problem. I run a gallery with >13000 images and 16GB worth of data here myself. It’s running on Gallery2 using an optimized Matrix theme. You should also consider caching. If you’re brave you can also compiled an optimized PHP for a domain.

Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

Jan

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#4

This keeps sounding better and better. I guess that’s the kind of flexibility you get with homegrown infrastructure management tools. :slight_smile:

What about custom builds of PHP; you mean you actually get to do that with shared hosting? I suppose you could get away with that (per-client interpreters) with an Apache module like mod_suphp… either that or you should be able to do that on a VPS anyway. Either way, I’m not interested in that, as I’m sure the stock build is just fine.

Final question: are the servers predominantly 32-bit or 64-bit (or 32-bit OS running on 64-bit capable hardware)?


#5

Everything you need is installed (gcc and all). Basically you just compile a PHP-CGI binary and tell Apache to use that instead of the one provided. It’s even documented in the wiki.

The current servers are mostly running on AMD Opterons (my server has a 175), so the hardware is 64bit. The Linux distribution is Debian Sarge (3.1) running 32-bit.

Right now DH is in the progress of updating all the servers to 64-bit, Debian Etch. (see this blog post)

Jan

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#6

Re: Custom PHP. With the shell accounts here, you can compile just about anything you’d like. However, there are guidelines:
No persistent processes (i.e. chat server) allowed
Be security-conscious. Don’t install or configure risky software
Watch the load you put on the server.

Most of these are due that it’s a shared environment and you have to play nice with others.

-Scott


#7

I don’t think they’re having problems with their NetApp filers, but only with that newfangled filer that they got early last year.

Reading between the lines (it’s not hard), they’re switching to local storage because it’s cheaper.

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#8

Indeed! NetApp may be reliable, but man, their filers are expensive!! And I’m not too thrilled about their implementation of iSCSI either. I’ve been looking into ZFS on Solaris and FreeBSD, but switching away from Linux is not something I’m prepared to do just to enjoy the features of ZFS… I’ll just wait until BtrFS matures. :smiley: But I must I digress…

OK, first off, thank you very, very much, everyone for putting up with my endless questions! I really appreciate it. I’m happy to say that it’s working :slight_smile: and I am now seriously considering a switch. So far I am impressed. 8)

I’ve done some more detailed poking around the DreamHost website, and noticed that the AUP (acceptable use policy) doesn’t have anything against hosting adult (I mean hardcore porn) content. Illegal porn (e.g. child porn) is prohibited, but nothing was said against legitimate/legal adult (or “potentially offensive”) content. So is porn allowed?

I’m asking this because I’ve had the misfortune of sharing an IP address with a porn site. As the result I was blocked by a number of corporate proxy servers and even my mail suffered, since that webhost routed all mail via the individual shared webservers and not some sort of central mail relay cluster. Ugh… Not something I care to experience again!

After playing with the control panel, I noticed that you allow running specific VirtualHosts under specific usernames. How is that implemented under the hood? Custom Apache module or something that’s already out there like mod_suphp or mod_suexec?


#9

I think most of the community is in shock that there’s a legitimate thread in this forum from a real prospective customer asking good, hardnosed questions about the environment here. I think everyone here appreciates your thoughtful questions and comments!

Legal porn is allowed, so your concern is valid, though I’ve never encountered it myself. Of course, now that I’ve switched to Dreamhost PS, I don’t have that problem because I have a unique IP - though re-used IPs could always create problems for me. I’d guess that if you encounter the problem, that support would be happy to move your domain to a different IP, though you’d always be subject to new pornolicious neighbors.

I can’t speak for how email is set up here, as I use gmail for my domains.

I believe Dreamhost runs mod_suexec. See the following Dreamhost wiki articles:
http://wiki.dreamhost.com/CGI
http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Suexec

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#10

Thanks for the tip. I’ve looked elsewhere, and found that DreamHost offers me the service and support that far weighs other services. I’ve just been careful as to not to do something really stupid, and then blame DreamHost. I only blame them for admitted outages which have been few and far between in my experience. I’ve not had an outage that they’ve denied existed.

-Scott