Renting a cheap Linux server?
April 5, 2017 2:15 PM   Subscribe

PHP! Apache! MySQL! Linux! I'm getting into fooling around with those things on my home computer and now want to expand my playtime on a external server.

So I'd like to rent to dedicated Linux server, but don't want to spend much money on what is essentially a hobby. Basically i want to be connect via the command line to server that ain't in my house, type in all the wonderful commands to setup and configure various packages and not blanch when I see the monthly or annual bill. It's all above board, just like the idea of controlling another computer (and only a single computer) on the internets. Might put a website, run an ftp server for non important backups, muck around with a mail server. What's a good and cheap service to rent a Linux server from?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What's cheap for you? I used to pay under $2 a month for a linux VPS. However, you get what you pay for with regards to reliability and service. I highly recommend linode, as their cheapest plan is now $5/mo and has probably more than you'll need.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:20 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been very happy with for exactly your purposes. They also have very responsive support.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:26 PM on April 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Yup, VPS is the way to go; I use Leaseweb, and it takes a little while to get the first machine up and running (agreements and stuff, they want to make sure you're not going to abuse), and for $10 a month I have a full-fledged virtual PC to do with what I want; I run CentOS linux but I think there's a few other options. If I want to start over, change OS, etc., I can do it all from the management website. I use mine for actual, commercial website hosting and such, which can do everything you described above.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2017

Er, exactly your purposes isn't LAMP - I meant general tomfoolery.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2017

AWS will let you experiment with a small linux VM that can be externally accessible for free for a year within certain limits, but it's enough to mess around and you can use their version of mysql. It's not much more than a regular LAMP stack unless you want it to be.
posted by mattamatic at 2:31 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: has been a provider for 8+ years, and they have a $5 plan that can run small LAMP instances.

I've been a happy customer of theirs for many years.
posted by nickggully at 3:04 PM on April 5, 2017

Best answer: Google's cloud service also has a free tier, similar to AWS.
posted by bradf at 3:13 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm using Scaleway. I'm running their ARM devices for €2.99/month (I think that usually works out to a little less than $3.50), looks like they now also have 2 core Intel machines with 2G of RAM and 50G of SSD and 200MBit unlimited data transfer.

It's a machine. It's easy to put Ubuntu on it and do with it what you will.

(I think, if you want to deploy multiple machines and only care about 1 IPv4 address, you can deploy subsequent machines for cheaper.)
posted by straw at 3:14 PM on April 5, 2017

Oh, and I went with Scaleway because I was trying to compile some C++ things that my 1GB Digital Ocean VM didn't have enough memory to compile.

(It's amazing to think what we used to do with megabytes of RAM...)
posted by straw at 3:17 PM on April 5, 2017

Best answer: N-thing Linode, I've been using them for years for my virtual server. They also tend to offer better performance per dollar than the competition in most of the head to head comparisons I've seen.
posted by borkencode at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2017

Response by poster: oh wow, that's cheap, I was thinking like $20 US a month, but $10 sound better, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on April 5, 2017

IMHO, depending on your ambitions, AWS either may be too complex/expensive, or a much better long term choice than something like Linode.

Two advantages of AWS over Linode, Digital Ocean, etc:
  1. It has MANY other additional services you can use to build projects without having to reinvent the wheel.
  2. It is very widely used for building "real" products, so having skills in AWS is quite marketable.
And, as counterpoint, two disadvantages:
  1. AWS tends to be pretty complex, and getting things up and running if you've never used it before will probably be a bit more challenging (Lightsail aims to reduce that complexity, but you would need to go beyond Lightsail to realize the benefits listed above).
  2. AWS tends to be a bit more expensive than the others (though you can still get a server for under $5/mo.), and the pricing can get complex, especially if you're using more than just the base VPS product (ec2).

posted by primethyme at 3:47 PM on April 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I use Digital Ocean for stuff that's actually important. Their panel makes everything pretty easy, though I kinda wish there were more options for DNS management and stuff. It's also really reliable, in my experience.

However, for things that aren't important (like just screwing around with stuff and maybe breaking the server accidentally or learning about some new thing), I have a bunch of space on CloudAtCost. Their rate model is unique: you pay some money (cheapest option is $17.50), and you have resources you can allocate to a server. That's it. No per-month fees or anything (unless you need extra IPs or bandwidth or something). Plus, they run sales pretty often that drop the prices on stuff up to 90%. Because of that, I have something like 24 virtual cores and 160gb of supposedly SSD storage available and it's just there, ready to be slotted together to an actual server instance. They hand-wave the price away by saying that they're a major CLEC and this is offset by paying customers that need real datacenter stuff. I tend to treat this like it could go away tomorrow, but then I've been on it for a couple years at this point with no issues. (I would also not expect any sort of support, beyond access support or it's actually busted support.)
posted by mrg at 8:19 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites] is $19 per year for their low end package (+$10 if you want SSH access which it sounds like you do). They have lots of other packages.

I've been using them for my personal domains for quite a while and have been very happy with them.
posted by Awfki at 4:03 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of options at lowendbox.

I've currently got a couple VPSs here and there that I've paid something like $20/year for with various coupons. One is at; one at Both are very responsive to any tickets.
posted by chazlarson at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2017 offers services on a pay-what-you-use basis that might end up even cheaper than some of the previous cheap options (but by the same token, an external badly behaved bot consuming your bandwidth could cost you -- but it's easy to put a cap on how much it can cost you by only leaving so much money in your account.)

I'm gonna color outside the lines a little and note that if you already have a fixed IP from your ISP (or you can get one), you could spend $40 on a Raspberry Pi (plus some for a microsdhc card and a microusb charger and either an ethernet cable or a wifi dongle if you don't already have those), install a minimal linux, and do all the same things on your own hardware. There are, of course, security implications to running an externally-accessible server on your home network that you might not want to deal with (assuming you make it externally accessible...)
posted by Zed at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2017

I recommend prgmr for personal VPSes. Good plans, full access to the Xen console (you can install your own OS completely from scratch!), IPv6 is available… + it's run by a small team of sysadmins instead of a megacorp. The only downside is that the servers are in the US only. I wish they were in Europe.
posted by floatboth at 3:13 PM on April 6, 2017

« Older Name this movie?   |   Best Local Radio Stations - TuneIn Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.