1 August 2011

Self-hosting for fun and profit

For perhaps five or six years now, my blog has been hosted by the Tau Ceti Cooperative, a small outfit based in Melbourne, Australia. Their service has been incredibly stable during that time, and I’d certainly recommend them. Their support and flexibility has let me tweak the site enormously, definitely much more than you can get with any of the large hosting companies.

However, my needs were always close to the edge of what makes sense for a hosting company (or co-op) to provide. Hosting companies generally have strict memory limits, don’t like long-running jobs, and would prefer if you didn’t compile stuff on their web server. So when I wanted to set up Mercurial hosting and Trac for use on some personal projects last year, I decided to pay for a Linode which I could configure from scratch.

It took some time to get everything set up, but once it was done, the Linode was very reliable. It has been hosting these few small things for several months now. When I was having some trouble with cron jobs not being triggered for this blog’s RSS feeds, I decided it was time to migrate a bigger chunk of my web presence over on to my own server.

Unfortunately, my blog is very challenging to move. It is literally a collection of almost 40 Perl scripts hacked up over the past ten years. It uses perhaps a dozen CPAN modules, plus several modules of my own, and relies on hard-coded paths in a bunch of places. Although it doesn’t look like much, traffic to some of the old articles and images adds up to around 3—4 GB per month.

So I’ve thrown caution to the wind and moved it over with a minimum of testing. I’ve gone over the basics of the site and made sure they work, but I’m not sure what is going to happen with a bunch of other stuff. Is access log rotation working, or am I going to run out of disk space in the first few days? Will a slight increase in load render my Linode useless? I guess we’ll find out.

Needless to say, if you notice anything broken, please shoot me an email. If serious problems do arise, I’ll have the Tau Ceti hosting for at least a couple of months as a backup. I’m hoping to make some improvements to the site along with the move, but that will depend on time constraints as always.