Colocation: should I? how would I go about it? best books and resources? best facilities in Michigan or nearby?
November 2, 2004 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Colocation: What are the best colocation facilities in the Michigan area (or elsewhere if it's very good)? What do I need to know about server administration, what books do I need to read, and is it worth the hassle? [More inside]

I am looking at using a Dell PowerEdge 400SC server (2.8 Ghz Pentium 4, 2GB of RAM and 120 GB harddrive) and installing Red Hat 9. Is this a good choice? What other programs would you recommend installing? (Apache, php, etc?) I am looking at creating a PHP site and have always used shared hosting plans that were already set up for me. I know nothing about linux, so linux resources would also be helpful too. How much of a time commitment will colocation take? Do servers break down often? To what extent can I control the server and administrate it remotely? Would you ever consider colocating in a location far away from your home? Any and all insights as to server administration would be appreciated.
posted by banished to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
 
Is there a reason you would want to take on all that work if you're not familiar with this stuff? Unless you serve a ton of traffic, seems like a hosted plan would work much better.
posted by yerfatma at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2004


I'd skip most of that and just get a server at Ev1servers. $100 a month for a terabyte of bandwidth. You can decide to go the hardcore DIY sysadmin route or you can get something like Plex or Cpanel installed to make your administration life easier.
posted by frenetic at 10:48 AM on November 2, 2004


And I dorked that link up: Ev1servers.
posted by frenetic at 10:49 AM on November 2, 2004


I have researched dedicated hosting exhaustively, but I'd rather do colocation because I need a new challenge, I would like to finally become comfortable with linux, and I expect a ton of traffic from this project.
posted by banished at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2004


Is this a good choice?

The machine sounds more than adequate for a server (depending, of course, on your load and how computation-intensive your applications might be.) Red Hat 9 is a year and a half old, and an orphan. I'd pick any other up-to-date and currently supported Linux over it (e.g., Fedora Core 2, Red Hat's most direct free successor.) Some prefer FreeBSD for servers -- you may want to consider it -- but I'm not familiar with the differences.

What other programs would you recommend installing? (Apache, php, etc?) I am looking at creating a PHP site and have always used shared hosting plans that were already set up for me.

Well, if you want PHP, then, yeah, PHP and Apache. Those come automatically with a lot of Linux distributions. If you want a database, get Postgresql. Install and configure a firewall (many Linuxes come with ipfilter.) Automate making off-site backups, by whatever mechanism. Pick qmail over sendmail for your mail server.

I know nothing about linux, so linux resources would also be helpful too. How much of a time commitment will colocation take?

Lots o' docs at the Linux Documentation Project and Linux Security. Whatever distribution you pick, subscribe to its announcements mailing list (or whatever list is relevant to get it security announcements.)

Keeping a server up to date and secure is a hard job. Faltering in this job can have high costs... not just the loss of your data, but the co-opting of your box to remail spam, participate in DoS attacks, or serve porn. Or, in the worst case scenario, facing litigation or charges due to the activities of systems crackers on your box. Make sure you know what you're doing before you set the box loose on the Internet, and make sure you stay on top of relevant security news.

Do servers break down often?

Impossible to answer meaningfully. If your hardware, in particular, is a dud, yes. Otherwise, no. Without there being something specific that's faulty, you should expect at least a year without failure, and probably much more. The most likely problems would be the power supply or hard drive.

To what extent can I control the server and administrate it remotely?

Fully, until there's a hardware problem.

Would you ever consider colocating in a location far away from your home?

No. Eventually something'll come up that'll require visiting the machine in person.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2004


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