I'm a total noob when it comes to Servers. I've been designing websites for about four years, and I'm completely self-tought (22 years old)...

I want to get away from Mediatemple because they don't support rails.

I'm trying Rackspace cloud hosting right now, and I've got a beginner's grasp on Ubuntu, but only slightly. I'm probably going to start my config over...so if I stick with Rackspace, will I have to monitor stuff all the time, or can I set it up, and check back like once a month?

If I can set it and forget it, which platform should I use? (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora)...And what are some good things to keep in mind?

P.S. I'm currently having trouble setting up a basic mail server. I'm a bit frustrated with the learning curve, but I still like the versatility. Should I just stick with managed hosting?

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  • It's looking more and more like managed hosting is still my best option--I'm just designing simple web apps and hosting WP sites, so I don't need a ton of flexibility...and Dreamhost seems to offer a lot for a good price...(even if their corporate website does look a little unconvincing). – Kevin Brown Jun 16 '11 at 12:46
  • This looks an awful lot like a "product and service recommendation" which is now considered off-topic. – kce Jan 31 '12 at 4:01

IMO, for small sites, managed hosting price is hard to beat. If you need the dedicated box, Ubuntu has a good balance of usability and functionality, though other Linux distros may have more functionality available, they can't match Ubuntu for ease of use to a beginner.

  • Thanks. Any recommendations on managed hosting? – Kevin Brown Jun 15 '11 at 19:02
  • Agreed. Ubuntu Server has great out of the box documentation on set up most any service you would want to do (mind you, basic configurations) at help.ubuntu.com/11.04/serverguide/C/index.html. This will also run you through setting up a firewall and help you harden your server. My brother and I ran ruby on rails built web services on Ubuntu server with Linode's VPSs. It worked for what we needed. linode.com. – Safado Jun 15 '11 at 19:47

Personally I cannot strongly enough recommend using Linode.

Their documentation is top flight, their servers fast and if you screw something up you have numerous recovery options. You are going to make mistakes as that is part of the learning process. With linode, it's nearly impossible to lock yourself out of your machine.

You can easily go from Ubuntu to Fedora core to OpenSUSE so you can sample different distributions. In terms of VPS hosting, Linode offers the fastest CPU and Disk resources of any out there.

For mail I always, ALWAYS recommend letting people smarter than you handle it, a.k.a. Google. I may catch flack for saying so on a sysadmin site, but unless you have a super compelling reason to run it yourself, Google Apps will do a better job of mail than you ever could.

edit: I enjoy this (mt) ad coming up during your request for help fleeing from them :]

enter image description here

  • I love that I'm seeing a mediatemple ad on this Q asking how to get out of mediatemple :p Relevant if ironic – RicoPags Jun 15 '11 at 19:40
  • I'm a linux admin for 11 years and I always use google for mail.. one less thing to worry about – Mike Jun 15 '11 at 20:08
  • @Mike, if I want to use google mail, isn't it $5/user/month? Does that mean $5 per email? or just $5 per business account? – Kevin Brown Jun 15 '11 at 20:22
  • they have a free option but it's hidden. Only allows 10 email address google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html – Mike Jun 15 '11 at 20:32
  • This'll do to start with...I assume I can upgrade later? Also...do you know how I connect google mail app with my dns stuff? (Such a noob here...) – Kevin Brown Jun 15 '11 at 22:26

If you want total freedom at the expense of having to get your hands dirty Linode offers great hosting VPS's. If you would rather set it up and forget about it I would suggest trying dreamhost.

As for gmail it is pretty cheap at $50/user account/ annually with the contract for 25GB's of space if you have a lot of users.

  • About gmail...is that per email? or per business? ie. Can I have 50 aliases on an account? – Kevin Brown Jun 16 '11 at 1:53
  • By aliases you mean people tied to a user account? If so the answer is no you can't have more than one "alias" per account. – Wilshire Jun 16 '11 at 3:35
  • So it's PER email? – Kevin Brown Jun 16 '11 at 11:01
  • yes per email account which is tied to one unique person within your organization. – Wilshire Jun 16 '11 at 12:35

Kevin Brown: Linode has a guide on how to configure Google Apps with their service. You can upgrade your Linode hosting to a very very fast 'machine' with ease.

As far as google apps users, currently accounts are $50/yr for an account, which is one login.

If you have ten employees who serve a similar function, or merely need to have addresses to send and receive from but not privacy, you can have unlimited aliases on the ten free accounts you use and slice that up any way you please.

For instance, I have a client who has multiple front desk staffers. The account for that is frontdesk@ which has aliases for the various staff. It's extremely easy to set this up and adds a lot of value: A customer mails the frontdesk@ and then julie@ replies-all to it, so the customer sees a personalized response from julie, and the rest of the frontdesk people see that the issue is handled.

Google Apps is the swiss army knife of data. It's easy as heck to sell to people, especially the free edition to SMBers.

Good luck!

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