Linode Vs the signup.

I’ve been on a quest for a new VPS, specifically, I wanted something for a LAMP stack – on top of all my CF sites, I’ve got Drupal/Wordpress/PHPBB3 to host as well.

After a bit of research, I narrowed my choices down to Linode and I also wanted a XEN based VM, as I’ve already got a Virtuozzo VM; there’s one thing which scares me a bit about a virtuozzo based vm, and that’s the lack of swap. Whilst the counter claim is that swap is slow compared to actual RAM, virtuozzo based containers give you no leeway there – they just seem to run into out of memory errors.


Linode offer a 7 day money back offer, so I thought I’d give them a try.

The signup process was easy, but when I tried to actually create my disk images and build my distro, I just got ‘Create Disk Failed’. Pleasingly, an IRC client hooked into the Linode channel is built into the admin interface.

I went on an said ‘eh? just signed up but..’ Another customer told me to raise a ticket, which I did. I wasn’t really expecting much, I’d sort of resigned myself to the fact that I was in for some pain and a least 4 hours wait.

4 minutes later, it was fixed, with an apology – they’d simply migrated my linode to a new host, and off I went. 4 minutes for a fix is insanely fast (amusingly, my incredulation was met with ‘Oh year, Peter is a ticket ninja – 4 minutes is kinda slow for him..’ on IRC.)

The interface works well. I’ve already trashed 5 Ubuntu servers, and a couple of Centos ones for good measure, just to try out the preconfigured ‘stack scripts’ they’ve got – i.e Hardened PHP & LAMP stack etc..There’s user generated ones too.

So I was up and running pretty much instantly.

I think my only complaint so far (and it’s not *really* a complaint) is I couldn’t quite get the Stackscript with LAMP stack and firewalling going properly (although this is probably more a reflection on my linux skills than the script), so it meant some manual IPTABLES config. Firewalling is one of those things I prefer to do via GUI (I know, I know, get some CommandlineFu already) in VZ, your firewall is essentially forwarded, so you can configure it outside the VPS, which is a nice trick.

Running a small test via loadimpact had a heavily loaded Drupal site coming in at 800ms for 50 concurrent users, which isn’t bad. By comparison, the current shared host that site is on, the tests wouldn’t go above 30 concurrent users, as it had gone from 1.5 seconds (10 users) to greater than 14 seconds (20 concurrent). No match really. But then, that’s expected. RAM idled around 245MB during the test, with a CPU over 4 cores not really exceeding about 20%. All that’s with out of the box apache/mySQL, no real tuning at all.

I’d had a fairly good response to twitter queries from @vpsnet, and thought they might be worth a try, as I really like the concept of scalable expandable hosting (i.e adding a node).

The signup process was fine at the start, once I got to a computer where the site didn’t think I was in the States. Sorry guys, but the University of Oxford is *not* in the US: either way, not having a way of switching currency or setting your region is bad. So at home, I managed to actually get billed in GBP and signed up.

Instantly, my account was flagged as being ‘held for validation’. 13 hours later, after a ranting tweet, it was magically approved. Still, that’s potentially a lot of time wasted right there. I’d even submitted a ticket, where it was still open 14 hours later, with ‘Private Staff Comment’ as the last response. That’s sort of annoying too.

Then, trying to pay the initial invoice, neither my CC nor PayPal work. Their signup/payment/check process apparently does a micro transaction first, followed by the larger amount; this triggered my bank’s anti fraud measures. I tried two cards, (and also paypal, but of course, this was linked to my card..) and managed to trigger the anti fraud measures on both of them.

After all that, I sort of lost the will, so frankly, deleted my account (not paid anything, or even tried anything after all by this point).

Maybe one day I’ll try again. I will note, that @vpsnet were helpful on Twitter, and I even got a phone message from the states checking on my progress (!), although by that point I’d sort of given up, so I think there is some genuine promise in their customer support.

Oh well, maybe another day.

I ended up keeping the Linode VPS, and am now addicted to looking at CPU/RAM/IO graphs. Sad huh. Oh, and htop – that’s addictive too.

And lastly, a shameless referal link for linode. Go on, you know you want to.

New site for drummers

I managed to scrape some time together recently, so I’ve created a drum video site.

Basically, I was bored of trawling through youTube looking for videos I knew to exist, I just wanted them in one place.

I built this in a couple of hours (and spent a few more populating it) using Drupal 6.

It’s basically a youTube directory – nothing’s actually hosted there, just pointing to decent videos. i’ve indexed them by artist, and also cross referenced solos/vs duets, whether they’re playing with a band etc..

It’s not (you can’t upload vids) and not drummerworld (I’m not actually creating any content), just an edited directory. A couple of others and I will be adding to it
gradually as time goes on..

It’s done purely for my own joy. If you like it, or have any suggestions, do let me know.


Some new sites..

A few new sites released recently:

With Drupal:

Custom ColdFusion work:


Intelligent Sustainable Energy

Intelligent Sustainable Energy now released: see the Drupal 6.x website here:

ISE is the creator of revolutionary technologies to help people reduce and manage their energy consumption. Faced with rising energy bills and increasing environmental pressures, consumers are keener than ever to reduce the amount of energy that they consume. However, whilst we can all follow simple rules such as turning off lights and not leaving the TV on standby, the reality is that most people do not have a clear understanding of how they use energy. ISE’s technology changes this giving you fully itemised energy bills just like the itemised phone bill that you get from your phone company.

Drupal 6 – output your primary links as a Site Map

This took me a while to find: In Drupal 6, I wanted to output the main Primary Links menu item, expanded, as a site map:

Simply add the following to a node (with PHP parsing ON!)

$tree = menu_tree_all_data($menu_name = ‘primary-links’, $item = NULL);
print menu_tree_output($tree);

Drupal 6 – not quite ready yet

I’ve been playing with Drupal recently – although I’m primarily a ColdFusion programmer, I find it very interesting to look at other Content Management Systems in other languages.

Overall, Drupal is excellent. There are some really well thought out parts. Drupal relies on a set of “core” modules, which in themselves offer a ton of functionality – almost enough for most sites. Almost.

The catch I’ve discovered with Drupal is that some of the most useful modules which exist for version 5.7 have yet (at least at time of writing ) to be ported to the latest version, 6 (or even 6.2 which we’re on now).

If you were planning on building a bi-lingual website, Drupal 6 promises some amazing core functionality; however, to do something like language specific menu items requires the integration of a third party module, i18n. This module isn’t feature complete, and still in development for Drupal 6; but for 5.7 it does pretty much everything you might need, just outside of the core Drupal modules.

The speed which Drupal runs through its versions is slightly alarming as well. Within a week of installing 6, 6.1 was out, and two weeks later 6.2 Now whilst I’m not against upgrading versions, when you have a large dependency on 3rd party modules, they have to catch up before you can upgrade.

So in sum, I needed to do a bilingual site in PHP, I went for 5.7 and it’s all been plain sailing ever since.