Us not-so-superusers would benefit from a pre-configured image

dreamcompute

#1

Hi. I recently made the switch to DreamCompute. Many like me have changed because of the recent changes to VPS hosting, which removed sudo access.

I don’t consider myself a true superuser; I’ve never actually built or maintained a complete server, but I do know my way around in a Linux OS and I know what I can tweak to get stuff to work how I’d like it to. I’ve always accepted VPS limitations (like not being able to install additional nginx modules without losing complete DH support) as they were and just used whatever little power was granted to me to my best advantage.

Since sudo was taken from me, I’ve felt forced to use DreamCompute, which was closed for me, so I was stuck with nowhere to go (but that is a rant for another time, maybe). Now that I’ve been able to obtain DreamCompute, I must express my frustrations publicly because I feel like I’m stuck between two demographics…

VPS is now managed and for people who want more resources than Shared Hosting but not the burden of managing a server completely on their own.

DreamCompute is for people who basically want custom and unmanaged dedicated resources and full administrative access.

I feel like I’m somewhere in between and DreamHost is failing to provide me with a solution. What I’d like to see ideally, is a DreamCompute image that is not just the bare OS. I’d love to see an image that contains a managed VPS environment copy as your base starting point. Once you load that image, you basically have an unmanaged VPS machine which you can then add things onto.

I’m really struggling to get my instance to run exactly the same way as my VPS currently is, just to add a new nginx module later. I’m worried I don’t know enough about security to protect my project; something I don’t lose sleep over while it’s running on the VPS.

Please, it’d be great if I could just copy my VPS setup over to my instance and take it from there…


#2

Sorry to hear of the issues you are having. I wish it was as simple as just copying your entire VPS to DreamCompute, but the managed aspect of the VPS requires some backend processes to do tasks on it on a daily and sometimes more frequent basis. The VPS is also a custom setup system with DreamHost built packages for php, apache, and other services and copying them over directly without that backend would leave you with an undocumented custom setup that would be difficult to upgrade or manage yourself.

We are looking into options to possibly allow some sort of DreamHost supplied image on DreamCompute, but because it isn’t yet ready we aren’t requiring admin user removal for everyone yet.

If you would like to write me via a support ticket, I can see about what I can suggest for getting your nginx module loaded, and give you some suggested reading for tips on keeping your instance secure.


#3

Hi Marc

Like Justin said, finding the middle ground is hard and while DreamHost folks work to develop new products that can better serve your needs, let’s talk about the issues you’re having because I get the feeling these may be quite common. You said:

I’d love to get you to the point where your applications run the way you want them to run. DreamCompute is not just a VPS+sudo, but it allows for a lot more power and control, makes it easy to deploy applications in a more resilient way.

For example, with DreamCompute prices being so low, it often makes sense to split applications across multiple (small) virtual machines instead of one larger instance, take advantage of snapshot capabilities and the integration with Ansible.

You mention NGINX in your post: what’s the architecture of your application? I’d love to write more tutorials about nginx and DreamCompute: what areas of documentation would you like us to cover more?


#4

First, thank you both for responding so quickly.

[quote]I wish it was as simple as just copying your entire VPS to DreamCompute, but the managed aspect of the VPS requires some backend processes to do tasks on it on a daily and sometimes more frequent basis.[/quote]That’s unfortunate but totally understandable. I guess I was hoping more for a “ready-to-go LAMP / LEMP stack” image.

[quote]we aren’t requiring admin user removal for everyone yet.[/quote]It’s not so much that I rely heavily on it now, but I will need continued sudo access in the future. For the plans I have (discussed further below) but also to keep the server running. I’m referring to support message #7234279, where I had to contact DH support to reboot the nginx service. Restarting the VPS did not work, and before sudo was removed, I was able to issue service “stop” and “start” commands (strangely “restart” didn’t work either).

[quote]If you would like to write me via a support ticket, I can see about what I can suggest for getting your nginx module loaded, and give you some suggested reading for tips on keeping your instance secure.[/quote]I’m actually already sold on the whole DreamCompute setup, but as long as I can’t configure my instance it’s delaying a beta project. So it kind of depends how quickly a DreamCompute solution would come along to decide if I want to go through customizing a VPS through the support team. I think you guys aren’t exactly waiting for that either, so getting a DreamCompute solution would work best for both of us. I will take you up on that reading material offer though. I’ve read a couple of things already, and so far I have an nginx server and PHP 5 running on my instance, something I’ve never actually done before. But the big question mark about “security” remains. I have no clue what I’m doing so I don’t know if I’m adhering to best practices for keeping my stuff safe.

[quote]DreamCompute is not just a VPS+sudo[/quote]I kind of wish it was, because that is literally all I need, but alas.

[quote]You mention NGINX in your post: what’s the architecture of your application? I’d love to write more tutorials about nginx and DreamCompute: what areas of documentation would you like us to cover more?[/quote]Well, let’s get this out of the way first: I’m currently on VPS and it’s hosting a website. Although I’m planning to take DreamCompute for a spin for a Meteor.js application, right now all I really wanna do is host my website on DreamCompute. The reason is because I want to add the modules explained in this article. My nginx server is running and I’m sure that I could add those modules now without much effort. But I don’t know how much “on par” my instance is with my VPS right now.

JustinK mentioned that there is a lot of background stuff going on inside VPSs. Things you guys implemented to keep our projects safe and keep things smooth. Although you have given us much greater freedom with DreamCompute, articles explaining your decision for all these background processes would help tremendously. Since we are “on our own” with DreamCompute, we could benefit a lot from your expertise as a host. Because you’ve already thought about it, done it hundreds of times and know why and how to do it.

I’d love a series of articles that walk you through mimicking a VPS webserver. Basically a LEMP (Linux Nginx MySQL PHP) guide that is written for DreamCompute (because I noticed there are many subtle differences between a true clean machine and a DreamCompute clean instance). I’ve read a LEMP guide for Digital Ocean but noticed some slight differences that can throw off someone who’s really new to the subject.

I appreciate DreamHost targets advanced users, but even not-so-advances users may have needs that were once fulfilled by a DH service that no longer applies. :frowning:


#5

Just giving sudo back on VPS would be the solution many of us need.


#6

From other posts I’ve seen, perhaps you should open a ticket and ask for it.


#7

I’m in for the same guide. I was chatting with someone via live chat about DreamCompute. I’m 100% sold it comes with its own dedicated IP! I’m just in the same boat as of security concerns and how to manage a Web server…never done it, want to though. :slight_smile:


#8

Thank you! This is exactly the sort of feedback I and my team need to prioritize what documentation we need to add to https://help.dreamhost.com.

Here is a proposal: if someone that is not a DreamHost employee beats me to write these articles, I’ll add something like $100 credit to their DreamCompute account.

I created a work item on the github repository containing the knowledge base: anybody that help closing that issue gets $$ credit. What do you think?


#9

It’s cool that you don’t mind throwing some money our way if we collaborate on documentation. I’m not sure how long we are expected to wait for it.

In Dutch we have a saying, loosely translated: “mustard after you’ve eaten”. It basically means “too little, too late”. It bothers me a little that such a guide isn’t already here.


#10

I quite agree. Support for this stuff seems to be all over the place: the wiki, their new knowledge base, their blog. Pick one place—ONE place—and put all the documentation there BEFORE you force changes on clients. That would eliminate a lot of the anger and frustration I read about in this forum.


#11

Just tried my luck with Ubuntu 16.04 Server on my Windows Server 2012 using Hyper-V (before I spend money on something why not try it for free), yeah…got past the install just fine, now I have no idea what I’m to do next.

I would love to use DreamCompute! I just have no idea how to setup the server from step 2, considering step 1 is install the OS. Oh, don’t worry I went to help.ubuntu.com, help.dreamhost.com, and I Googled till I was lost even more. I did come to a realization…people that know what they are doing expect everyone to know, if not the same, more than they do. People don’t go asking for help just to be referenced to places that tell them what they already know they need…more help. That is like sending someone who knows next to nothing of PHP to php.net and told they will find the answer to their question instead of giving them a link to a good guide in how to learn PHP.

Sorry a rant from my very unproductive day…well not entirely, at least I know that DreamCompute is not for me…ever…and that’s ok.


#12

Well, you’re all making it farther then I am. I’m getting stuck [for days] attempting to figure out SSH keys (I have as much server admin knowledge as I have knowledge on creating time machines; none) and I need a rudimentary guide that assumes I have an IQ of a plant.

With that said I have created MUD’s and multiplayer games using node.js (comet before that and ajax long ago) though I have never setup/administered systems these games ran on. I’ve created a few WAMP systems and node.js servers locally but there’s stellar guides out there for this.

I’m currently stuck at creating an SSH key and it’s sitting in a file on my desktop. Should I print it out and make Have You Seen Me signs outside? =)


#13

Well not to do exactly what I complained about myself. :slight_smile:

There is a how to guide on how to create the SSH Key from the Dreamhost Panel here: https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/214843617-How-to-upload-an-SSH-key-via-the-web-UI. From my understanding these two sections are what you want “via the DreamCompute dashboard” and then at the bottom “Import an Existing SSH key into the Dashboard”. Again not 100% on this myself.

Then I would guess that you need this guide to connect to the instance: https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/216201547-Connect-to-your-instance-with-ssh-keys. This assumes you know how to use PuTTY though.

PuTTY is fairly straightforward and there are guides on YouTube (hey Dreamhost, that’s an idea) on how to configure it.

YouTube…that might be a better way then going through guides to setup DreamCompute…hmmm…if anyone can make an example and create a how to video…well that would be great. :slight_smile:


#14

Maybe this will help? https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/214843617-How-to-upload-an-SSH-key-via-the-web-UI


#15

Could someone tell me the order I need to read these articles ( https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/sections/203141767-Basics ) in? I’ve read them all several times but just can’t move forward.

I assumed this would be my first article: (https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/215912848-How-to-launch-and-manage-instances-with-the-DreamCompute-dashboard) but by step #3 I have no instances so I can’t proceed.


#16

Dreamhost is best in class but the same cannot be said for Dreamcompute…? the wiki of dreamhost on Dreamcompute point to their sales website… the “cloud” link points in the dreamCompute help…? sorry to say, you many have got the system setup properly but on the help, its not there.

Although the presentation of Dreamcompute by DreamHost Talk about a market segment which is small business / startup. Essentially they have a system up-running without any how2 which can be understood by in-between.

I have also never maintained any servers but without sudo on the VPS have to move to Dreamcompute but just not able get a LAMP working…? a simple tutorial could help… disabled my subscription shall wait for how2TuTs…


#17

I think we need to clarify a few things: when I think of users who require sudo access, I have in mind a user who knows how to install and configure services on a Linux/Unix machine. I’m a bit confused by some of the comments on this thread by people who report being unable to ssh into a remote host and run apt-get or yum install.

I’m not sure where the confusion of types of users comes from: DreamCompute requires at least a minimum amount of basic knowledge of system administration, and there is no other way around it. DreamCompute virtual machines are totally unmanaged servers, it’s not like DreamHost VPS which provides managed servers. For those of you who have a hard time using ssh, you just have a little more way to learn before you can be using DreamCompute comfortably: it’s not too hard, it requires just time and patience because we can’t document the basics of administering a Linux machine. There are good books in every library and classes and some articles on our knowledge base can be useful for that, too.

Now, if you know how to use sudo then you should be perfectly capable of learning how to configure a DreamCompute server the way you want it to be. Here I admit that our knowledge base has ample space for improvement and so does the DreamCompute GUI.

For the GUI, we launched the quick launch panel: you can start a server with one step, very quickly. And we’re working on more improvements on the graphic interface.

For the documentation aspect, we keep on adding new articles to inspire and instruct users on how to do things. For example,

How to use Cloud-Init on DreamCompute to deploy NGINX

Step-by-step guide to deploy ownCloud on DreamCompute

How to launch a DreamCompute server with Ansible

It’s not enough, I know and I’m sorry we don’t have an army of people writing tutorials for all of you… I repeat my promise: if you have a trick up your sleeve to share, let me know and I’ll be happy to give you fame and some cash :slight_smile:

We’re lucky that many people like DreamCompute and manage to quickly learn how to do things with it. One such example has been published today: you can read how people at Hostingadvice learned how to deploy a loadbalanced application powered by NGINX on DreamCompute and shared the results (we did not pay for the review).


#18

puts on high dudgeon hat, gets on soapbox

Well, no, not exactly. The problem for me, at least, is that you need sudo to install some software packages. I don’t want to install a complete operating system, I just want to add software. Likewise, many other people want to use it to accomplish very specific tasks, not to start from the bottom up.

For example, at one point, smaffulli recommended installing software on VPS which cannot be installed without sudo. (https://discussion.dreamhost.com/thread-146936.html) This was after removal of sudo from VPS, mind you. (And yes, I just tried it, and yes, it failed, but it gave me this nice ominous warning: “username is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.”)

DreamHost’s solution for anyone wanting to try something like this is to force people to move to DreamCompute. What DreamHost remains so willfully non-cognizant of is that many people don’t want to build a house from the foundation up: they simply want to remodel the bathroom. A lack of sudo means that you are forcing many people to build everything from scratch, which is not what everyone wants or needs to do.

I’m not sure why DreamHost decided to remove sudo from VPS—I’ve checked with several other hosting companies and they all allow full root access on VPS. If it’s a matter of some people abusing it, it would make much more sense to remove it from those people who are, rather than denying it to everyone. As a parallel situation, I use to work at a bank and there were some people that we simply would not issue a debit card to. (They were forever losing it, or posting pictures of it on Facebook, or lending it to a friend, under the misguided notion that the money would come out of their friend’s account and not theirs—surely a case of Clark’s third law in action.) If abuse is the issue, restrict those who are abusing, not everybody.

So we have the situation that DreamHost has removed a feature from VPS (with only a week’s notice, but that’s another discussion altogether), thereby forcing people to use another DreamHost product which is, by DreamHost’s own admission, poorly documented. Given that, I don’t understand why so many monocles are popping out at DreamHost over the difficulties people are having trying to use this product.

Next time DreamHost decides to make a major change to their packages, I certainly hope that 1) they give more lead time on this (six months would be good), and 2) their alternate plan is well-documented ahead of time, rather than post hoc. All these discussions have proven to me that while VPS is now less than what I need it to be, DreamCompute is far more than I need, want, or, apparently, have time to research how to use.

gets off soapbox, takes off hat, goes out for tacos


#19

I understand your point of view and respectfully disagree. DreamCompute gives you a fully working operating system ready with a default user and ready to install software packages. To use your metaphor, at a very minimum it provides a fully built house with doors and windows but missing furniture to live in.

I understand there are some people who only want to install nginx extensions, or wordpress plugins and not the whole shebang needed to run Wordpress &co. Frankly, it’s hard to satisfy such diverse set of needs.

Boto-rsync and other python packages can be installed without sudo just fine using virtualenv. Here is a quick set of notes on how to do it: https://gist.github.com/smaffulli/bcd5ec064130913b059dace71dce609d (I’ll publish a longer article, too).

[quote=“kjodle, post:18, topic:63441”]
DreamHost’s solution for anyone wanting to try something like this is to force people to move to DreamCompute. [/quote]

Nobody is forcing anything: DreamCompute is a suggestion for people who know how to ssh and install and configure packages on Linux machines. DreamHost is committed to serve users with different needs with its products and we very well know that not every single person on the planet can be satisfied at any given moment.

This was explained in the email you received and in past threads, it makes no sense to resurrect that topic.

[quote=“kjodle, post:18, topic:63441”]
—I’ve checked with several other hosting companies and they all allow full root access on VPS.[/quote]

In some cases we know there are differences in what other companies call VPS. Check what they offer and if they offer sudo, chances are they’re offering something quite similar to DreamCompute, a completely unmanaged server. But I’m not a VPS expert anyway.

[quote=“kjodle, post:18, topic:63441”]
So we have the situation that DreamHost has removed a feature from VPS (with only a week’s notice, but that’s another discussion altogether), thereby forcing people to use another DreamHost product which is, by DreamHost’s own admission, poorly documented. [/quote]

I never said it’s poorly documented. I said that there is ample space to improve the documentation and that feedback (and contributions) is welcome.

Going back to something constructive: what exactly would you like to do with sudo? If you can state it as a story in the format below, it’d be great:

As a [developer|administrator|other] I would like to [do something] in order to [what would you like to achieve]

We’ll do our best to document this use case.


#20

Thanks to all chiming in and thanks to DH support for responding to everyone. I feel this topic is on the verge of derailing because it seems people take each opportunity to regurgitate what has already been discussed on other topics. I’m not saying I disagree. I just want to keep this topic focused on why I wrote it in the first place: to get a better instance image or at least learn how to build one myself.

I’d greatly benefit from DreamHost’s many years of expertise in hosting if they could share more about “What comprises a robust and secure webserver?”

There are a lot of variables here, for instance “which webserver to use?” (Apache, lighttpd, nginx). I’m not looking for how-to’s or recommendations for those variables per sé (though any extra documentation only increases your support for us) but I’m really looking for that one, all-inclusive document that tells me “these are all the building blocks you should install to make sure your website is secure and stable”.

Even just a reply here with a simple list of bullets points would be a big help at this point, though eventually a wiki or help article would help everyone looking for this.

Perhaps when that’s done, another poweruser can create that instance image I’m dreaming about…