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I'm currently looking into migrating a few sites from my shared cpanel hosting to a VPS. Got to the point where I want to do more and have been learning about some system admin stuff through my placement/work.

Firstly, what are the essential things I should know? I understand how to set up an apache config, can probably work out how to set up email accounts and the like, however I'm sure there is much more that I haven't been shown, as I'm a programmer and not a sys admin.

I currently host a number of wordpress sites, a few static sites and a zen cart (shudders), and will be porting all of them including email accounts over to a new VPS.

If it helps, I'm currently with Hostgator shared hosting, and planning to move to Thrus VPS (Thrust VPS Site) on their basic VPS OpenVZ plan. They do have a cpanel option, however it's A LOT more expensive. Could I for example use cpanel to import everything, then turn it off and do everything terminal side? I know little about how cpanel actually does its job.

Further, their three *nix hosting packages are either OpenVZ, Xen PV or Xen HVM, and to be totally honest, even though I've researched into each of these, I'm not completely sure which one I would want and why, although I suspect OpenVZ.

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You should think about going back through your past questions and accepting answers where appropriate. – EEAA Mar 20 '11 at 18:41
fair enough. Certainly you should only accept if appropriate. We get a lot of new users coming through here that don't realize accepting is an integral part of community participation. – EEAA Mar 20 '11 at 21:00
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's impossible to predict everything you'll need to know of course, but here's a quick checklist, assuming you have not had much experience with modern linux distros.

  • Choose what distro you want your server to run. Debian derivative, redhat derivative or something else?

  • Get SSH figured out so you can get into your server.

  • Get your distro's package management tools figured out so you can install stuff.

  • Install the stuff you need through your package manager... for example apache, php, mysql.

  • Configure the stuff you installed. Realize you need more modules for apache and php. Install them.

  • Learn how to (re)start system services. Restart apache now that you added a bunch of apache and php modules you needed and reconfigured it.

  • Learn how to set up virtual hosts (vhosts) on apache.

Amazon's AWS service is a good way to set up virtual machines quickly and test stuff out without too much trouble, and it scales into one of the nicest hosting solutions I've ever seen. You might consider it before looking at some of the other hosting options.

These guys are good too: ... particularly if you're looking for something less corporate or want to be sure real people are behind the service. It's a small outfit with only a handful of employees but they somehow manage to have offices worldwide and answer the phone at 3:00 AM when we call them with stupid questions.

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Thanks for the info. I've decided on the OS, Ubuntu LTS. Can probably set up the SSH ok. I've used a package manager a few times, so I'll have to work out what I need I guess. I know how to restart apache =] Know how to set up vhost files for apache too! woo! I expect the main problem will be knowing what modules I will need and setting up and configuring email. – Relequestual Mar 20 '11 at 18:30
@Relequestual - unless you're a glutton for punishment, just outsource your email to Google or the like. They'll host email on their infrastructure, using your domain(s), for up to 50 users for free, and will be able to do it with far more uptime, features, and less heartache than you'll ever be able to if you go it alone. – EEAA Mar 20 '11 at 18:40
@ErikA , Thankyou. I already have one domain set up with google apps, would have to migrate the others, which isn't a problem really I guess. Probably, as you say, a LOT easier than my own system. I will be trying to avoid said punishment as much as possible! =p – Relequestual Mar 20 '11 at 19:02

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