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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!).




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 0.7ยข/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.

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> 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.

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>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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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"""- 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/.

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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).

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(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.)

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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.

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> 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.

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> 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.)

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> 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.)

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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.

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