- It needs to be affordable — I have my budget. I do not make much money from my websites. In fact I am running a community site there, and I do not wish to pay more than needed.
- Gentoo must be an option — I do not want to use other binary-package based distributions. I like to tinker, continuously upgrade and hated broken dynamic libraries. Gentoo is my Linux distribution of choice, but not all Xen hosting has it as a choice.
- Good community — A forum. Good informative communication between staffs and users. Maybe a blog to announce what has been happening.
- Reliable facility — Good redundant network. Fast servers. RAID disks. Everything a hosting company should have if they respect their customers and treat their sites just as important as their own sites.
What I don’t need are:
- Control panels — I will be the only user on this box, and I do not wish to pay for a piece of useless software that only limits what I can do.
- Managed solutions — I am the root of this VPS, and there shall be no other roots. Neither am I willing to pay for someone to gain sysadmin credential and “fix up” my VM for me. Thank you but I have used Linux for 12 years, and I just need help when VM refused to boot.
Searching for xen hosting on Google reveals many companies (some ain’t even provide xen hosting), however unixshell# wasn’t one of them, due to probably bad SEO effort (which I had suggested them to fix).
I actually came to know about unixshell# from WebHostingTalk’s VPS forum. From that forum I learnt that unixshell# is (1) cheap (2) very much self-managed (3) uptime isn’t all that great. They might not have the best user review because of all the data centre glitches and slow support response. However they seem to have a very fast setup, and they are probably one of the largest Xen hosting provider. I would not put that much weight on the user reviews from WHT as many are ex-shared hosting/resellers looking at something more beefier, and have little experience on managing their own server. So at the end I became a camper on their forum — for around 2 months. During this time, I saw unixshell# upgraded to Xen 3.0 and many have experienced much better IO performance and fairer shared of CPC slices. In geneal, I think I will be fine with this company.
Then came middle of March 2006 my home server’s hard disk died, putting my FOCUSer community site off-line for a few days. Instead of waiting for my server to rebuild, I bite the bullet, signed up unxishell’s “The 192″ plan and was hosted on VM27.
I picked Gentoo 2006.0 to bootstrap my first Xen-based VPS, and spent the next day building various packages (yeah, the pain of great customisation). It took another day to move all FOCUSer sites over. Now I also run a few other sites on this VM, including this very blog.