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Rackspace's Cloud Sites have a lot of stupid limitations. For example, no SSH (in or out), no shell, no RSYNC, etc... (even through cron).

Recently I learned that you can't reliably use symlinks in Cloud Sites. Apparently this is because the absolute path of your sites could change at any moment, since it's a shared host environment split up between many disks/servers. I guess different account's sites get moved from disk to disk whenever Rackspace decides to. Supposedly to increase efficiency across the board.

So after talking with a Rackspace tech, he said they cannot guarantee that symlinks would always work. Obviously this is because if you have a symlink that use's an absolute path like this:

//mnt/disk-34566/home/user34566/files/sites/www.mysite.com/mydir

If you files go moved to a different disk (or whatever they do), then the absolute path would be different and the link would now be broken. That makes sense.

So next, I asked the Rackspace tech if relative path symlinks were reliable. So if I have the following link:

files/sites/www.mysite.com/mylink --> ../www.myothersite.com/anotherdir

You can see that the symlink simply points to a nearby directory's sub-directory. He said they cannot guarantee that even those would always work either. Since it uses a relative path to another nearby directory I'm not sure how it could ever break from something Rackspace would do. Do relative symlinks somehow rely on absolute paths underneath? Or is Rackspace using some weird custom filesystem where they will break from absolute path changes?

It seems like a relative-path symlink would be fine and would only break if the user did something to mess up the directories involved. But when the tech's say that they "don't officially support symlinks of any kind" that makes me hesitant to use them for large commercial websites in Cloud Sites.

Can anyone with Rackspace experience give input on this topic?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm not with Rackspace, but having worked for a hosting provider I can give you one general piece of advice:

If your provider says something to the effect of "We can't guarantee that X will work" and you elect to do it anyway you are outside of anyone's ability to support you.

If it works, "Hey that's great! We're really happy for you!"
If it stops working one day - "Don't come crying to us, we told you not to do that!" (which means you're on your own to fix the breakage, or you're going to be paying your provider con$ulting rate$).


From a technical standpoint I can't see why relative-path symlinks would break, provided you are always on a filesystem that supports symlinks. It's possible one day your cloud site could magically migrate to Flippy's Freaky Fantasy Filesystem which doesn't support the concept of symbolic links though -- such is the nature of The Cloud.

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Thanks for the answer. I wish Rackspace CloudSites allowed for better flexibility... –  Jakobud Dec 5 '11 at 17:57

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