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This is great, but it would be nice to have a plan < 1GB for < $20/month. I love Linode, I've been using it for years, and the pricing is great in general. But it'd be really nice to be able to spin up a $10/month, 512MB server for a new personal blog or other project.

$20/month is prohibitively expensive for one-off side project hosting and there's lots of utility to be had from a cheap low-RAM, low-CPU server. I'd buy 10!




I suspect that, in the general case, keeping away people/projects for whom $20/month is prohibitively expensive ends up being a virtue for caker and the Linode crew.

(Note that I'm not intending this to refer to you specifically, since you're already a subscriber anyway.)


The problem is that most projects make (possibly their only) hosting provider decision from a position of being unprofitable.

Thus when you segment the market by "people who can afford $20-100/month", you are also segmenting the market by the correlating variables "people who are mad at their current host" and "people who can spare several days to migrate their infrastructure".

As a member of that class who migrated to Linode, I can attest that the size of that market is nonzero. But I can also attest that a great many projects start and remain on AWS and lowendbox where the barrier to entry is much lower, and even as a satisfied Linode customer I continue to start and continue to maintain many projects in those environments.


This is one of those arguments that seems to makes sense when you're on the purchaser side of an SaaS product, but often breaks down when you're on the seller side.

One of the biggest costs of running a SaaS business is support. I'd guess that there's not a whole lot of difference for Linode in the cost of supporting a $10/month vs. $320/month box. In fact, there may be negative correlation -- I wouldn't be surprised if the cheaper customers are more expensive.

Now, your argument hinges on there being a high conversion rate from low-end plans to high-end plans. I'd guess that rate is quite low, in fact. Most accounts probably never upgrade and / or cancel after a few months. Now, the canceling in the first few months is a big problem as well, because for most SaaS businesses, your biggest support cost is going to be concentrated in those first months where the customer is getting set up. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes Linode a few months, on average (not median since support isn't evenly distributed), to get into the black on the low-end accounts.

The variables in that equation are really important in deciding if it's worth putting up with cheap, less knowledgable, high churn customers just in the hopes of upselling them over time, or if it's better to slice off the segment from the beginning that finds $20/month to be onerous.


just to be reminded that linode is unmanaged host.


Having deployed significant environments on both Linode and AWS I can safely say that the barrier to entry on AWS is nowhere near lower than Linode's, for all but the tiniest Wordpress blog.

The hourly, broken-up billing is a smokescreen; for exactly what you get out of a (now) Linode 1024, you'd pay $50+/month or so on AWS. Don't forget total bandwidth, an elastic IP, and so on.


The barrier-to-entry on AWS is in fact infinitely lower than on Linode:

http://aws.amazon.com/free/

The ongoing TCO of AWS is much higher than Linode, of course. But that's precisely my point: you want to capture customers at birth, incubate them into adulthood, and then charge them a lot of money now that they can afford it.


Yeah, do you know how awful a t1.micro is? It's a joke. I've never seen steal% that high before. There must be thousands on a single machine.

Although if you want to be pedantic, let's say "actually useful, potentially-production barrier to entry". There. Fixed.


A friend of mine is running an ASP.NET MVC/Mono/MongoDB ecommerce site on micro with around a quarter million of annual sales. The site is very very fast.


If he hasn't already, get him to do a write-up on that. I'd sure be interested, and I'm sure many others would be as well.


The high steal% is intentional, as the CPU is allowed to burst to take advantage of unused resources:

http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/concepts_...

I don't find my cheap t1.micro based IRC bouncer / VPN / reverse SSH endpoint / static-content generation box to be an awful joke at all. They're quite useful for many things.


You also want to avoid scammers and fly by night operations that don't value your business other than to find cheap CPU and bandwidth. There is a set level of overhead for each new customer, and new customers are probably more likely to need additional support. The lower you go with pricing, the larger this portion of your costs eats into your profits.

There are $10 VPS solutions out there, but their poor reputations lends credence to the idea that $10 VPS solutions are not where the money is at.


There is Hetzner.de which I like quite a bit as a company. I have been hosting with them for 3 years. They have a 512box for 6.5 EUR if you are exempt from taxes like a Non-EU citizen .


The $10 VPS solutions I see out there are either in a European country, or are startup/smaller shops that don't have a proven track record.


Just don't try to use EFnet or QuakeNet from them.


> The hourly, broken-up billing is a smokescreen

Its not a smokescreen if you are using AWS for a cloud (e.g., dynamically provisioned according to need) server infrastructure rather than as a simple VPS.


A lot of people are on AWS. If you are migrating from AWS, it doesn't matter any more what AWS' barrier to entry is, and it does matter what Linode's barrier to entry is.


>The problem is that most projects make (possibly their only) hosting provider decision from a position of being unprofitable.

Being unprofitable and not being able to spend $240 / year is a different issue.

The first is about the project being unprofitable. The second is about you being broke or not believing on it to spend even 1/150 of your income (I'm speaking of course for US/EU citizens/wages).

There are however other vendors that have even $5/month plans for VPS (and even offer SSD drives). Try Digital Ocean.


It would be neat if it was an option for people who already have Linodes. a tiny $10 server would be great as a build server or a puppet/salt master.


I agree, but can understand why Linode might want to stay away from the real lowend side of the scale.

Personally I've started using Digital Ocean for those smaller non-production servers (staging, dev etc). I still wouldn't trust DO for anything production.

The Linode service and support is second to none, and I'm happy paying the price (which now gives effectively twice the value!).


You're on to something here. I imagine it was people with < 1GB plans that churned out the most (quit linode for a better offering) as soon as folks like Digital Ocean showed up. I should know, I was on a 768MB plan and as DO showed up with better pricing and more RAM I was gone. So I imagine that they've eliminated this plan to bring more stability to their recurring revenue, which makes sound business sense.

The interesting thing is that linode started out as a cheaper alternative to slicehost, so its ironic that they are now trying to differentiate themselves in much the same way slicehost did back then.


> The interesting thing is that linode started out as a cheaper alternative to slicehost

You have that backwards, given that Linode predated Slicehost by upwards of three years.


> The interesting thing is that linode started out as a cheaper alternative to slicehost

Linode have been around since 2003. I think Slicehost was founded later than this (in 2006 according to a quick search for their name.)


> Linode have been around since 2003. I think Slicehost was founded later than this

This is correct. I signed up with Linode in 2005 and there was no Slicehost then. I was moving from another VPS provider (Redwood Virtual) which had twice the resources for the same price as Linode but were really, really crummy (they don't even exist anymore). That experience really taught me the value of considering quality in addition to the price/feature ratio, which is why I'm not jumping ship to DigitalOcean. (I might if/when they establish a solid reputation, but no sooner.)


I use DigitalOcean and really like them:

- Provisioning is conceptually cheap, and this is their killer feature. You click the "Make a new VPS" button, you pick your distro, how much RAM you want, and an SSH key, and they spit out an IP address less than a minute later. `ssh root@198.xxx.xxx.xxx`

This is much nicer than eg. finding or downloading a box to mess with Vagrant or taking who knows how many hours to set up your own distribution in VirtualBox. Just a few minutes ago, I spun up a box, messed around with Gitlab, and destroyed it. Completely seamless; has all but replaced VBox for these "one-off VM experiments" that I sometimes try.

There's also an API for automatic provisioning if that's your thing.

- Pricing: Cheap, as you'd expect. 512MB for 0.7¢/hr or $5 a month. There's no difference between monthly and hourly pricing so if you want to pay a buck fifty to rent the 24-core 96GB monster for an hour, have at it.

The thing about DigitalOcean is that they're still such a new service that they haven't gotten everything all polished yet:

- No kernel upgrades. The kernel is kept outside of your virtual machine, which means that if you upgrade your kernel, then you'll get mismatched modules and your network interface won't come back. They've pinned kernel updates in ubuntu so this shouldn't be a problem, but you have to say "IgnorePkg = linux" in your /etc/pacman.conf if you're on arch. Security updates will be a pain though...

- You can't boot into a recovery image/liveCD. If the above happens to you, I assume you'll have to either restore from backup or file a ticket and ask them to pick things out of your VM's hard drive. (You do get raw console access provided by an HTML5 VNC client, which can be useful)

- Payments are weird because you can't see your VM or network usage, so it's unclear how much you'll be charged until they bill you at the beginning of your month. If you select to pay via paypal, you can't pay by a credit card linked to your paypal account (at least for the first transaction any way); I had to give them my credit card information directly. (I imagine they do this to cut down on fraud or spam)

- Services are still a bit barebones. You have to roll your own load balancing. There's no support for mounting an image into another VM to recover files. No internal networks; every VM has a public IP address, which makes me curious to see how they're going to handle IP address depletion if they ever get popular. You have to use your own firewall via iptables or similar.

They will manage your DNS for you though, if you like, and you can ask them to take a snapshot and automatically back up your VM every day or so.

My verdict? I think they're lovely and I really reccomend them especially for personal projects, but as of this writing (early april 2013), you should think about these things before you decide to use them in production.


> Provisioning is conceptually cheap, and this is their killer feature. You click the "Make a new VPS" button, you pick your distro, how much RAM you want, and an SSH key, and they spit out an IP address less than a minute later. `ssh root@198.xxx.xxx.xxx`

> There's also an API for automatic provisioning if that's your thing.

Oh, it is, and I wish these comparisons would consider the API more, since deploying a node via Linode's API and DigitalOcean's API are probably comparable. Declaring "my UI is faster!" as a sales point is disingenuous, since Linode is merely offering more choices during the provisioning workflow. Since you're saying "click", I assume you mean the UI too; at scale, absolutely nobody uses the UI any more. I manage a fleet in the thousands on AWS, and the last time I logged in to the AWS Web Console was about six months ago. It takes at least two minutes of clicking to spawn an instance in Amazon, but earlier today I launched 38 instances in about thirty seconds using the API.

> - No kernel upgrades. The kernel is kept outside of your virtual machine, which means that if you upgrade your kernel, then you'll get mismatched modules and your network interface won't come back. They've pinned kernel updates in ubuntu so this shouldn't be a problem, but you have to say "IgnorePkg = linux" in your /etc/pacman.conf if you're on arch. Security updates will be a pain though...

This isn't unique to DigitalOcean and is fundamental to the way Xen works (the kernel is loaded by the host, not the domU). However, Linode solved this problem better by providing kernels with most modules that you'd ever need built-in. You can upgrade all you want on your filesystem and not run the risk of hosing your machine, because your modules generally aren't considered at all. You can still add them by compiling against the upstream Linux sources, but the core modules aren't loaded from your filesystem (on my Linodes, my modules/ directory for the running kernel is empty). There's also a loader for your own kernel on the filesystem, PV-Grub, which DigitalOcean doesn't do.

> - You can't boot into a recovery image/liveCD. If the above happens to you, I assume you'll have to either restore from backup or file a ticket and ask them to pick things out of your VM's hard drive. (You do get raw console access provided by an HTML5 VNC client, which can be useful)

Only if you screwed networking. Lack of recovery = showstopper.


>This isn't unique to DigitalOcean and is fundamental to the way Xen works

Digital Ocean uses KVM, not Xen, per https://www.digitalocean.com/faq so I'm not sure why they would need to pin the kernel.


Thanks for the clarification!

Here's the docs for DO's API: https://www.digitalocean.com/api I agree that UI isn't strictly necessary, but the reason why I brought up the UI was because as an "amateur" user, that's what I care about.


Using external kernels isn't in any way fundamental to the way Xen works. Most standard setups (even PV) have the kernel inside the VM, which allows for standard upgrades, etc.


Why are you mounting customer images on your host fleet? Put another way, what do you supply for "kernel=" in xen.conf? A file from your customer's filesystem?

Why are you doing that?


"""- Provisioning is conceptually cheap, and this is their killer feature. You click the "Make a new VPS" button, you pick your distro, how much RAM you want, and an SSH key, and they spit out an IP address less than a minute later. `ssh root@198.xxx.xxx.xxx`

This is much nicer than eg. finding or downloading a box to mess with Vagrant or taking who knows how many hours to set up your own distribution in VirtualBox."""

I don't get this; finding or creating a base box for each disribution you want to use is a one-time cost. There are many existing boxes listed at http://www.vagrantbox.es/.


For 512MB/1GB Droplets in their EU location (Amsterdam) they have run out of IPs. I was planning on switching to DigitalOcean but that is holding me back at the moment.

And since you mentioned it, I have been following their Twitter replies and apparently private networks are coming soon (https://twitter.com/digitalocean/status/321650732703023105).


(A bit of followup regarding payment tracking: you can click on "Billing" --> "View my current charges" to see a breakdown of just how much you owe. I presume it's updated daily if not hourly, but I didn't realize this when I composed my post.)


I understand you don't want to trust DO for anything production, yet. But several companies are already using them in production mode. JSFiddle, NewsBlur,AudioBox are the ones that I can remember.


Use one decent server for all your side projects. $20/month is not very much, unless it's just sitting there doing nothing.

Alternatively, Hetzner will give you a 512MB VM for about $10.34/month.


DigitalOcean VPSs go for 512MB, 20GB disk at $5 per month/0.7¢ per hour.

Prgmr is also really great too, 64MB for $5/month (by comparison, 512MB for $12/month). Run by an HN fellow, so that's also a plus.

EDIT: goodness gracious, i didn't realize that literally everyone in this thread is mentioning DO when I wrote this post!


https://www.digitalocean.com/ will give you a 20GB SSD and 512MB of RAM for 5 bucks a month. Perfect for those little side projects.


Signing up with SSDTWEET nets you $11 of account credit too.


Saw that tweet this morning!


I think buying a few raspberries pi is competitive for a few projects over the course of a year.


Good luck with the upload bandwidth on residential cable. Also in some cases simultaneous up/down kills the download speed. I guess if you had google fibre, though.



That's what I do now, but it's a pain to serve multiple HTTPS sites and an extra pain (practically impossible with default HTTPS in browsers nowadays) to serve mixed HTTP/HTTPS. I'd much prefer sandboxed Linodes for all my little projects, but if I bought a Linode at $20/month for each of them I'd be poor pretty fast :)


Serving multiple HTTPS sites is a piece of cake with nginx. What does your stack consist of?


You can get an extra IP for $1/month to solve the SSL problem (or alternatively look at something like Cloudflare).


Which, unfortunately would cost another $20 a month (+ $5 a month extra for each additional site with SSL).


Not sure why you say that, why not just support SNI-based browsers (i.e., NOT IE) to allow multiple TLS connections? And what does the difficulty of mixed HTTP/HTTPS have to do with the server?

SNI: http://www.digicert.com/ssl-support/apache-multiple-ssl-cert...


You don't even need SNI if all you want is some SSL goodness for a side project. Just make your web server listen to a different port for each HTTPS site. Most of your users won't care about the port as long as there's a padlock somewhere, and the ones who know better will probably know that any port is as good as port 443.

  1st site: https://www.firstsite.com:12345/
  2nd site: https://www.secondsite.com:24328/
  3nd site: https://www.thirdsite.com:37712/
  etc.
You can have thousands of HTTPS websites on a single IP address while fully supporting every browser.


In Apache, one server can serve both HTTP and HTTPS (and multiple HTTPS with SNI). The problem occurs when you have both on the server with name-based virtual hosts and you request the HTTPS version of the HTTP site. If Apache can't find an HTTPS virtual host for the requested domain (because it doesn't exist, the site we're asking for only has an HTTP version), it will default to serving the first HTTPS site it finds instead. This means your domain will serve the wrong site and probably show an SSL warning to boot because the domains don't match.

Normally this isn't a problem, except that some browsers nowadays default to requesting the HTTPS version first. That means if you're serving an HTTP site and an unrelated HTTPS site, and a user accesses the HTTP site via an HTTPS connection, there's a good chance you'll end up serving the unrelated HTTPS site plus an SSL warning instead, because that's how Apache does things.


The problem is that you have not enabled a ssl version of that vhost.

How is that Apache HTTPD's problem? Nginx would do the same thing. When you don't define a ssl version of site.com for ip:443, you get whatever the default cert/vhost is for that ip:443. What would you have a webserver do differently?


I didn't say it was Apache's problem. For various reasons one project does not have HTTPS at all, and I understand how the web server handles things and the reasons why. My point was that a cheaper option from Linode would let me spin up a new VPS to host that small side project, instead of cramming it on a server that also hosts HTTPS; but $20/month for a not-for-profit side project just to edge around new browser defaults is steep for some of us.

Sure there are other options but I'd rather not have accounts all over the place, and I like Linode.


Sure there are other options but I'd rather not have accounts all over the place, and I like Linode.

Linode's problem with $10 accounts is not with customers like you who are paying them decent money otherwise - it's with customers who would sign up for $10, break things and expect $50 a month worth of support on an ongoing basis.

Most customers looking for a cheap VPS (to learn on, to experiment etc) are not going to be profitable unless you provide virtually no support, so by slicing off that part of the market they can offer a uniform level of service without compromising their profitability.


Heroku is able to provide as many free low use dynos as you want and that's a managed system with presumably more support cost.


>What would you have a webserver do differently?

How about not revert to a "default"? Just serve a redirect to the HTTP version if a HTTPS is not available for that vhost.


Sounds like the problem is with Apache then (I haven't used it in ages). As someone else suggested, have you thought about using nginx?


I'm running my micro-VPS on TransIP which offers 1GB mem, 50GB HD, 1TB traffic for €10/month.

It's not the same as $10 a month but it's less than $20 and their support is excellent (5+ year customer, but more for their excellent DNS management console.)


Didn't know TransIP, thanks for the tip!

Your package is only € 5/month now - for €10 you get 4GB/150GB/5TB which is only the quarter of the price of an almost equal (no SSD, but more HD and traffic) DO instance.

https://www.transip.eu/vps/pricing-and-purchase/

Almost unbelievable.


That reduced price is for the first month only I'm afraid...

Still a great deal though :)


Unfortunately its all in Dutch, otherwise I would buy one on the spot.

/e Apparently google sent me to the dutch one by default! Thanks google!


> $20/month is prohibitively expensive

If you're capable of using a bare-bones Linux VPS but are unable to pay $20/mo for your side projects, it's time for you to find a better paying job.


Why? If side-projects are just that, hobby tasks, then it's a toss up of spending $X disposable income on things I/my family enjoy, vs $X - $20. $20 is an additional day out with the kids, or half a pair of shoes for one of them... or an extra $20 overpayment on the mortgage (worth so much more in the long-term).

Bottom line: it has nothing to do with income, but what people value.


With ARIN likely to be 100% out of contiguos space by the end of this year, everybody really wants to discourage things like simple blog hosting taking up a /32 on its own. I'm sure they'd be happy to cut you a good deal if you were willing to only use 6, but fair market value for an IP will arguably be > $5/month in the not too distant future.


http://www.nephoscale.com/nephoscale-cloud-servers

$7.30 / month for a 0.25G instance (on the members plan)

$11.68 / month for a 0.5G

$22.63 / month for a 1G

I've worked with them a lot, and they are excellent. The underlying hardware is really, really fast, their tech support guys are very competent, and they are highly responsive.


There are definitely providers that give you that.

Checkout www.lowendtalk.com/.

BuyVM.net is also very reliable and competitive for what you get.


Big up BuyVM!

http://www.doesbuyvmhavestock.com/

They actually have stock which only seems to happen a few times a year.


Hmm, I guess they could offer 2,4,10 packs to make the total cost reasonable.


512MB (burst), 20GB HDD VPS for 4.99/month

http://quickweb.co.nz/lowendbox.html

I've been using these guys for small projects for about a year now - never a problem.


They're going to have a certain amount of fixed overhead per instance, mostly in the form of support, so it may not be worthwhile to them to drop below $20 for any size.


For a simple side project, you don't really need 512mb dedicated. Voila: http://www.lowendbox.com/


I have single linode with several domains/projects on it. It's not to difficult to setup virtual domains.




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