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I have a Linode VPS. This means I have root access; well, I thought I'd offer a bit of shared hosting.

How do you get started doing this? I'm wanting to give PHP, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. Also, I'm going to be using Arch Linux.

Can anyone point me to some web pages or something for how to setup shared hosting that is secure? Also, without using PHP's safe_mode and possibly offering SSH access.

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3 Answers

You'd probably be best looking at a hosting system.

The two I'm familiar with are commercially licensed.

cPanel
Plesk

There may be some opensource ones, just not familiar with them myself.

These take the underlying items like apache, php, mysql, ftp, etc and give a control panel for the users to login and control their individual settings.

If you try to just manually configure the various pieces you will get yourself into a lot of extra maintenance.

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Well, the first thing to do is select a control panel for your shared hosting clients. The control panel would give clients limited access to his/her individual account settings, while still allowing you to completely control the server. cPanel is the only well-known linux panel (Plesk is only for Windows servers), but there are open source panels out there as well. However, cPanel is probably the best one to use as it's the most functional and comes with a ton of community support.

You would then want to build a site that would sell your shared hosting. WHMCS is an excellent client management/billing web app that has plugins for all the major control panels and payment gateways. However, like cPanel, WHMCS is commercially licensed. Unlike cPanel, I'm not aware of any free alternatives that are able to interface with cPanel.

After that, its a matter of marketing. Make yourself known on forums like Webhostingtalk, put yourself out on Webhostdir, and advertising on AdWords doesn't hurt.

I'd be careful, though... It's very easy to oversell yourself and then not have enough server resources to go around. It's also easy to encounter the abusive client that runs a process hogging all the ram on the server, causing it to crash. It's also expensive to increase your total RAM capacity.

Essentially, managing a web hosting business successfully is a full time job. However, if you still want to pursue it, have fun.

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What version of cPanel and Plesk have you been using? The last time I installed either, I certainly didn't retain "complete control of the server". Also, Plesk has Linux versions as well as Windows. –  rodjek Jan 16 '10 at 13:29
    
cPanel is the more popular option (and in the short term, cheaper). Also, what I meant was that you still retain root shell access to the server. cPanel also gives you its own version of "root" access, but that's more along the lines of complete domain management. The latest version of cPanel (11.25) is what I use. –  panoptical Jan 16 '10 at 16:11
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