Boris Smus

interaction engineering

From VPS to static hosting

All good things must come to an end. VPS hosting paid for by my former university is no exception! Ever since the University of Madeira-provided credit card paying for the account expired, I began wondering whether it's worth paying for a VPS that I hardly use. Combined with two consecutive 10-minute stretches of downtime last week, I had my answer.

I run this blog, my mother's site and a handful of mini-sites, all of which are inherentily static content. Today, I moved them all away from my VPS completely. I migrated the relatively complex sites to the lightning engine, and updated the engine with a couple of nice features: fixed content links in list pages and feeds, and support for publishing to S3.

System administration

In my early Linux days, I ran an AMD Athlon server off my parents' internet connection. I took pride in configuration, maintenance, administration, endlessly recompiling updates and dealing with broken dependencies. I enjoyed the challenge and got very good at it. By sinking enough time into any problem, I was confident that I would ultimately solve it. Sometimes I contributed an ebuild or two to portage. I learned a lot, and eventually my web server outgrew my parents' internet connection.

So I turned to managed hosting. Several years later, sick of the crappy management UI, and yearning to flex some sysadmin muscle, I jumped on VPS opportunity for performance reasons. While clearly overkill for static sites, it was appealing from a "what if?" perspective: what if suddenly I wanted to run a complex webapp? No problem, VPS was ready!

Except system administration sucks

My VPS slice was running Ubuntu 8. Since Ubuntu 12 was released, I was greeted with a "48 packages are out of date" message upon logging into the machine.

Long ago, this message would have sent me down a rabbit hole of emerging all of the outdated packages, resolving dependencies and rewriting config files. It was gratifying to be on the bleeding edge, to have a clean system with all of the daemons dancing to your tune in perfect harmony.

These days, I could care less about being up-to-date. In fact, I actively dislike upgrading. An upgrade is a risk, likely to lead to something breaking, likely without me noticing at first. So rather than the "ooh, new shiny" feeling I used to have when Apache needed an update, I actively dread needing to update anything. I don't want to need to tweak configurations, especially because I've forgotten a lot of the domain-specific config languages.

S3 for static hosting, PaaS for everything else

Happily, all of my sites are currently static. Blogs and mini-sites all lend themselves very well to being hosted on S3.

For the hypothetical case that I require a dynamic web server on the internet, I'll turn to a Platform-as-a-service solution like Nodejitsu or AppEngine to avoid doing rote configuration tasks.

Being a sysadmin is not a part time job.