Interesting hosting provider: Digital Ocean

I just set up a bare-bones website for Pyston, which as of the time of this writing is just hosting the pyston-dev mailing list.  When setting it up, I wanted a new cloud VM to serve it; my current one, which is serving the blog you’re currently reading, certainly has the capacity to run the mailing list server, but I thought it was better to be at least a little bit separated by being on a different VM.  I’ve had good experiences with Linode, but their cheapest option is $20/month; in the history of things I’m sure this is incredibly cheap, but for a relatively-throwaway use like this it felt kind of steep.  I’d heard of Digital Ocean being the new-kid-on-the-block, and heard that they have a $5/month plan, so I decided to try it out.

And let me say, I’m impressed.  Their UI was to-the-point, and most interestingly the VM I provisioned felt surprisingly snappy.  I’m wary of a $5/month plan, especially from a relative newcomer, so I’m not planning on launching any more VMs with them for the moment, but so far I’m impressed.

Side note: if this isn’t happening already, I think a great idea would be to have a 24-hr “boost” for new VMs when they are first created, maybe limited to new accounts to limit abuse.  The idea is that those first 24 hours are the most important hours to the client, the person paying for the VM, since that’s when they’re actively setting it up.  This means both that the VM is both being used the most actively, but also that the owner is most engaged in its performance, since they will be tend to be heavily using it during this period.  More generally, I think it’d be a selling point if the hypervisor would prioritize owner-visible traffic such as administrative functions, since this would give a much stronger sense of being high-performance — I suspect that cloud VM providers will start doing something like this if they’re not doing it already.

Ubuntu 14.04

As an aside, I decided to use the latest-and-greatest Ubuntu 14.04… which was definitely a mistake.  I’m sure it’s better in some ways, but not importantly enough to me to justify being an early adopter.  I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with it, especially compared to other releases, but if you try searching for “[my problem here] [os version]”, there are way fewer results for 14.04 than for 12.04.  This was a problem for setting up the web presence, since no Mailman tutorials have been updated for 14.04, which includes Apache 2.4 which is apparently different from Apache 2.2 in delightful ways.  Again, nothing wrong with that, but for “I just want this up and running and don’t care too much about it” projects I’ll definitely stay on 12.04; maybe in a few months I’ll switch my development boxes to 14.04.

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