Inspired by the site over at usethis.com, the following is a brief interview between me and, well, me.
Web Developer, Techie
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Matt, Husband to Anneka and Daddy to Lily (18 months) and Mia (15 weeks to go). By day I'm a Web Developer for IOCEA.com Ltd, the creators of Cshop and by night I develop my own sites and tinker with my servers.
My personal project, SlickCMS is nearing completion for a public release, over a year after embarking on it. I'm still contemplating going Open Source with it, or simply making it freely available.
When I'm not developing for work or my own kicks, I try to improve my measly XBOX 360 Gamer Score; Fallout 3 is proving to be engaging.
What hardware do you use?
At work, a Dell Optiplex 320 with 2GB RAM and an Intel Pentium D. It has lasted me nearly 3 years of development without any problems. It has 2 Sony 17" LCDs connected to it, with a Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000 - an older gaming mouse I found to be perfect for me, a lefty.
At home, a Sony VAIO, again with 2GB RAM and an Intel Pentium (M). It runs Windows 7 fine and my only complaint is the loud fan.
I also run several servers in the loft, including a mini-itx Firewall and an AMD Athlon X2 with 6GB RAM as a Virtual Host.
And what software?
My work desktop and laptop run pretty much the same set of software, with the former using Vista and the latter Windows 7. Visual Studio 2008; Microsoft SQL Server 2008; Office 2007; Notepad++ and 7Zip amongst others.
Browser wise, it's Internet Explorer 8 at work, with Google Chrome at home. I prefer the minimalist approach of Chrome for browsing websites and the Web Developer toolbar of IE8 for development purposes.
The Firewall uses Smoothwall and the Virtual Host uses Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, with the VMs a mix of Server 2003/2008.
Lastly, I am a fan of Star Wars, so my Servers are named after planets: Bespin for the Host; Talus, Hoth and Corellia (amongst others) for the VMs and Tatooine for the NAS.
What would be your dream setup?
At work, a 30" Dell monitor, with the Sonys either side would work well - all powered by a Intel Xenon workstation.
Laptop wise, a bleeding-edge Lenovo, Sony or Dell would be good. Maybe a high-end netbook or lightweight laptop for browsing the Internet when not developing too.
My servers could do with an upgrade and consolidation - there's no need to run all 4 of them 24/7, when just the one with a bunch of Virtuals would suffice.
I used to roll with a desktop at home, for PC Gaming and occasional developing - but have since found a laptop to be ideal for sitting on the sofa whilst coding.
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...