For the past 5 or so years, slickhouse.com has been hosted on a shared Linux server, provided by UKHost4U.
While the hosting has been good, I've grown out of using a shared web server and all of the limitations that go with it. So, over the past year I've developed my own dedicated web server, with a twist - a) it's Windows and b) it's hosted at slickhouse itself.
For those of you interested in running your own web server, it's actually a fairly straightforward, albeit time-consuming thing to do. And it proved successful - as you are reading this served up by the new server!
- AMD Athlon 3000XP (Barton core)
- 2 x 1GB PC3200 DDR
- MSI K7N2 consumer motherboard
- 4 x 250GB data drives, 1 x 120GB O/S drive
- Yeong Yang cube case
- Microsoft Server 2003 R2 w/SP2 (both host and virtual O/S)
- Virtual Server 2005 (1GB allocated RAM, 100% allocated CPU)
- MySQL Administrator for a GUI w/MySQL
- ASP (and .NET)
- Filezilla Server for FTP
- Merak Mail Server
- AWStats for statistics
- Active Perl for AWStats
- IIS 6.0 for web
- GoDaddy for domain registration
- ZoneEdit.com for DNS (dynamic)
- DynDNS for DNS (dynamic)
- Google Mail to collate all of the email
- Smoothwall for router/firewall O/S
I chose to use Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, as it allows me to run several operating systems on the same machine. Currently the server only has the host and virtual operating systems, but I'll be expanding it with a development server soon. Another advantage to going virtual, is that I can easily copy the whole server from one physical hardware platform to the next. So if a catastrophic failure occurs, I can quickly transfer the image of the server to another hard-drive, or Virtual Server.
This configuration has so far proved to be a lot more beneficial to my previous shared hosting solution with UKHost4U. For a start, I'm in complete control of the whole solution - from domain registration, to configuration of the server itself. Also, it means I'm not limited by the assigned disk space and bandwidth provided with my shared hosting package. My ISP at home is Virgin Media, who over the last week has upgraded me from 4MB/400KB Cable broadband, to 10MB/500KB - they still have an unlimited bandwidth policy too!
So what's required then? I'll start in order of what you see as a visitor:
- Domain registration - to get yourself a name on the 'net
- DNS - to point your domain to an IP address
- Dynamic DNS - to update your DNS with your dynamic IP address
- Firewall/Router - to block and route traffic around your LAN
- Web server (IIS 6.0) - to serve web pages
- Mail server (POP3/SMTP) - to send and receive email
- PHP/ASP - to server dynamic web pages
- MySQL - to provide database(s)
Let me know if you encounter any issues with the new hosting, as I've moved ~500MB from the Linux server across to the Windows server and have most likely missed something from my testing! If anyone is interested in having a site hosted on the new server, then get in touch - as a ZoneEdit account, along with a Domain of your choice is all you'll need. Uptime is currently 39 days and counting...
Microsoft's Windows Vista has been around for over a year now, receiving a lot of bad press; along with a few promising reviews. Having used Vista x64 Ultimate Edition since January 2007 myself, I've found it to be a great operating system.
I've not experienced any major problems - and the minor ones that I have come across, are run-of-the-mill issues that many encounter when getting to grips with a new O/S. My only gripe is the poor network performance when compared with XP and Microsoft's Server operating systems. As all my data is kept on servers, my Vista PC uses the nic all of the time, transferring files of varying sizes to and from the client.
Those of you who have used Vista in a similar situation will be familiar with the long transfer times encountered when copying files to and from a network resource. Thankfully, Microsoft have just released their first Service Pack for Vista - which promises to iron out many of the problems users have experienced in the last year or so.
Prior to installing SP1 tonight, I decided to 'benchmark' the network transfer times. I copied the full 743,936KB (~743MB) Service Pack 1 (x64) from a shared network drive on my Fileserver, to a partition on Red19. Both the server and client run 250GB Samsung Spinpoints (7200rpm, PATA) and utilise a Gigabit network interface card, with 2 D-Link Gigabit switches between the 2.
Pre-SP1, it took 59.9 seconds to transfer the file from server to client, with an average transfer speed of 11.5MB/sec (estimated).
Post-SP1 installation, it took 50.4 seconds, with an average speed of 15.5MB/sec (again, estimated). That's about 9.5s and 4MB/sec quicker after installing Service Pack 1. Although not a huge improvement - it is definitely noticeable and should contribute towards a faster Vista user experience.
One final thing - Vista's estimation of how long the transfer will take is now spot on. No more delays while it guesses and second-guesses the eta! Let me know how you're finding Vista's first Service Pack and if you've come across any other improvements that have helped.
Tonight is another milestone in Matt's life...
The Nissan Skyline R32 GTS-T that I've owned for the past 9 months has been sold tonight. It had been on the AutoTrader website; two Skyline forums; Petrol Heads and I've just ended the 2nd eBay auction. I did worry at one stage that I would be stuck with it for life!
The new owner is another Skyline owner, who has a black R32 himself - and my GTS-T was to be his partner's, as she apparently keeps driving his.
I'll miss the Skyline and all the fun associated with it:
- 140mph* on the A1 when driving it back after purchasing it
- Ending up sideways around a corner on 2 occasions
- Racing a Vauxhall Astra VXR (they're quick bastards) @ 120mph* on the A46
- Beating a WRX Impreza from traffic lights
- Watching the fuel gauge drop so quickly
Who knows? Maybe you'll be reading this blog in a few years time, where I'll be raving about it?
For those who didn't see the Skyline in person, there are 90+ pictures on the mini-site I created for this sale. I'll keep it alive for the foreseeable future.
To all members of the police force reading this, these speeds are completely exaggerated as I've never even hit 70mph.