on Slicehost

Did you notice that my weblog is not hosted at Icdsoft anymore? I have moved to a shiny virtual private server courtesy of Slicehost which uses virtualization to run multiple operating systems (hence multiple VPS) on the same server.

I first heard of Slicehost about two months ago when looking for a hosting company supporting Ruby on Rails (which unfortunately Icdsoft isn’t). Their VPS plan includes (I quote):

  • Full root access and rebooting – I am a fan of SSH (and SCP) and I loved the idea of getting access (as root) to the command line and do everything I want on a box found in the US…
  • Choice of Linux distro – Either Ubuntu (Dapper Drake or Gutsy Gibbon), Debian, Fedora, Centos or Gentoo. I thought a lot about this and settled for Gutsy Gibbon. Sure it’s new but most people using Slicehost use Ubuntu and many have upgraded and had had not problem whatsoever. Moreover, I use Gutsy Gibbon at home…
  • Dedicated IP address and Tier-1 redundant bandwidth – My own IP address! Too great. This opens the door to all kinds of tricks like having multiple domains pointing to the same box. I’m sure I’ll get some additional domains very shortly. As for the bandwidth, it’s great to be able to do a “aptitude install apache2” and have apache running under 5 seconds. Those in the US are spoilt kids :-)
  • RAID1 disk storage – No need to do backup (even though it can be done) as RAID1 uses mirroring and, in case of a faulty hard disk, the people at Slicehost naturally replace it. Some people backup the Slicehost data on Amazon S3 just to be sure. I’ll investigate.
  • Reserved RAM slice – I have chosen the simplest (and cheapest) plan which gives me 256Mb of RAM. Now, before you run away shouting “What can we do with 256Mb in 2007!!!”, notice that we are speaking of a server without X-Window here. Aha! Now you understand.
  • Guaranteed CPU slice and more when available – I have a dedicated CPU slice (in the scheduler sense) and I am currently using only 4% of it for my weblog. This means that I can have lots and lots of new applications (written using Ruby on Rails or Java, whatever) and I won’t even use all my CPU slice. For your information, my weblog now runs on a server with 4 AMD Opteron 2212 HE Dual-Core processors i.e. 8 cores! Now, you understand why I have been teaching Concurrency and Parallelism for the past three years…
  • Bootable rescue mode – in case I screw up.
  • Unlimited environments: Ruby on Rails, Python, Java and more – and this is the reason I have moved to Slicehost. I love programming. And I love programming languages. Unfortunately, most hosting companies are very PHP-centric. I really want to experiment with frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Django, Spring, Seaside, Lift, etc. Now I have no excuse.

Two (small) glitches

First of all, they don’t accept customers if they feel they don’t have the hardware resources. In that case, you are put on a waiting list and they order new hardware. That why I had to wait two months to move to Slicehost. Now, this “glitch” is also a benefit in the sense that you know that everything will be great once you are accepted.

The second glitch is the price. The smallest hosting plan called 256slice (with 256MB of RAM, 10GB of HD space and 100GB of monthly transfer) is $20 per month. Now, this is mostly negligible for an American or a company but not for me.

I’ve managed to convince Christina that this is worthwhile for two reasons:

  1. Self-education. A new server to manage. New frameworks to learn. This is going to be tough but good… and perhaps valuable for the future. Who knows?
  2. New opportunities. It is perfectly possible that Christina and I develop a new Ruby on Rails application we have been talking a lot on lately. We will use Adsense, at least to cover our expenses. I know this feels like vaporware but stay tuned…


  1. I like the “I’ve managed to convince Christina…” The joy of being married. Oh wait a minute…I’m married too :-)

  2. Meh.. showoff :)

    This is my little puppy:

    System: Dell PowerEdge 2950
    CPU: 2x Quad Core Intel Xeon(R) CPU L5320 @ 1.86GHz
    Memory: 4 GB Fully Buffered DIMM
    Storage: 4 x 146GB SAS in Hardware RAID 0+1
    RAID: PERC SAS RAID Controller
    NIC: Broadcom NetXtreme II BCM5708 1000Base-T (B2), v0.9.6
    OS: Windows 2003.. Just kidding!.. FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE
    Switch port: 1000Mbps (GE)

    And its dedicated :D

  3. Thanks for staying patient and joining our community. Let us know if you need anything.

  4. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my weblog. I’ve just started realizing that having Apache2 + PHP + MySQL (which are required for WordPress which I use for is only the beginning.

    My next step is to deploy a small Ruby on Rails application using Capistrano.

  5. Why didn’t you chose hostgator or i have couple’s of site hosted there and they are very cheap with same all features :)

  6. I could. But I wanted to have a VPS to be able to experiment.

  7. Icdsoft do host Ruby and Rails projects too, but it’s very slow when your app is there. You can’t use Capistrano either, as there is one feature missing from Icdsoft. I asked and they won’t add this feature.

    Try this and see for yourself:

    I had to FTP the whole app.


  8. Yeah.

    Icdsoft unfortunately does not support the technologies required to create an efficient Ruby on Rails application. And this is also true of Python. And Java. It’s very PHP-centric in fact.

    And the fact that you don’t have an SSH connection means that, as you mentioned, that everything is done through FTP which is a pain in the a** when you want to upload something massive from Mauritius.

    All in all, Icdsoft is perfect for WordPress users. It’s less perfect for the rest of us who want to have fun with alternative technologies.

  9. I agree. But in the sense of exploring RoR to a large extent, it’s enough.

    Exploring Capistrano and some other web apps which require cron jobs at small intervals is out of the question though.

    Uploading stuff through FTP is not that bad. It’s robust and an app does it for you: you just upload everything in your rails folder (which is what I did and which is what you usually do to your WordPress installation as well).

  10. Hmm.. $20 for a VPS not bad, though it sucks when it comes to disk space, 10GB is really small for a vps ( torrent flux will use all of that too i suppose you are not into those).

    And yes :p on this one you can’t brag hahaha, ajay so bann server ki li prend la dimal nett sa!

    pwnage :p hahaha

  11. Don’t you know that I don’t indulge in piracy :-)

    Seriously, having my own server on the Internet will allow me to experiment with a lot of new web technologies I’ve been reading about lately.

  12. “Don’t you know that I don’t indulge in piracy :-)”

    Yeah, was joking about it.
    Besides… torrent can also be used to download linux distros .. so :p nothing bad with it.

    Besides, i just wanted to see that face when Ajay posted his server’s details :p, ahhh si seulement c’etait dans class!

    Mais enfin, moi monn fini calcule pou astE iphone and give you the first call from it :p

    Seriously, having my own server on the Internet will allow me to experiment with a lot of new web technologies I’ve been reading about lately.

    Hmm i and i still on shared hosting.. i wonder if i can get a sponsored dedicated box for hmu.

  13. okay but could you verify that the php mail function is working and/or enabled?

    the emails on comment followups aren’t getting through.

  14. Does it work now?

  15. Your site seems to be a bit slow :( well it seems you are paying much for a VPS. check this link :

    price starting from $7 :)

    well if ever you need hosting with root access, you can always tell me :) i own a VPS & i’ll host your site for free :)

  16. Hi Sailesh,

    Pity I didn’t know you before :-)

    But seriously I am happy to have my own VPS (even at $20 per month) as I have big plans coming for the future!

  17. Well wish you the best for the future! we have big companies abroad, well am a Mauritian ok! ;)


    these sites form part of my digital vision group!

  18. I’ll just say it -> Slicehost ( PWNS NET PC ( )

    I don’t think they are so dissimilar – the services are different. Ok, you don’t have a VM (or do you?) @ Slicehost as compared to NET PC, but there are similarities.

    I’d love it NET PC has bundled with the services having the same criteria as Slicehost.

  19. Does it work now?

    well… no. the last followup I got was on steve jobs making fun of windows.

    And I can’t blame it on google either. It’s not in the spam folder.

  20. To ames:

    A VPS and the Net PC are very different. One is a server and the other one a client for a start…

    To Yaasir:

    So it still does not work! I’m troubleshooting this right now… Aha! Got it. I forgot about using options -t and -i when sending mail with sendmail! Now it should work.

    Thanks for the help.

  21. how u did regarding email? migrated from shared host to the vps?

  22. Hi Vik, no, all our email is managed by Google using Google Apps for Business. I was fortunate enough to have done that very early and, consequently, I do not have to pay a lot for the service.

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