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Instant Server - Click the button to get a virtual private server (instantserver.io)
203 points by nir on June 11, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 78 comments

You should add a "kill it" button so I can easily free up the server if I finish playing with it before the ~30 minutes is up.

shutdown -h now?

Sure, but a button would still be a nice touch. I closed my connection before shutting the server down. I hoped there would be a "kill it" button on the page but there wasn't so I had to reconnect before I could shut it down. Hardly a great effort but some people might not bother.

This is brilliant. I'm flabbergasted why every single virtual server I've ever tried has had some gotcha that made it agonizing. Why is it so hard to have one-click templates that give you a server that can run 90% of what a user needs, say apache/php/ruby/node/mysql/postgresql/ssh with cpanel (or equivalent), already installed and set up "the right way" so you can easily add domains? I know the reasons why this hasn't happened, but I don't care. I want to know the real reason it hasn't happened, and I think it has a lot to do with every problem looking like a nail. I laugh at hosting providers, for failing so spectacularly at giving customers what they want. Good on this site for finally pointing out the obvious.

>I know the reasons why this hasn't happened, but I don't care. I want to know the real reason it hasn't happened, and I think it has a lot to do with every problem looking like a nail.

That doesn't even make any sense.

Hosting services are generally not for mom and pop to start a vps on demand. For that kind of cookie cutter service, they have something called shared hosting, and its already plenty easy and has more or less what you are asking for.

If a developer can't spend couple of hours (even less unless you are a beginner) learning their way around setting up a server, it just a disaster waiting to happen.

There are time and place for cookie-cutter services, vps is not it.

Probably because SysAdmins are fervent about customization. If a simple tool pops up like this, the demands for complex features overwhelms the product and brings it all the way back to the complex nightmare it's always been.

Developers are more accepting of "Sane Defaults" as Rails has proven, but not enough hosting providers are interested in selling to developers. I have a feeling this will change sooner rather than later as the fields continue to merge.

Probably because SysAdmins are fervent about security/maintainability/reliability.

Fixed that for you. Too often all developers care about is "Ship. Ship. Ship". Get a pager and come join our world for a bit. You'll understand what its like to run a real-world, mission critical app.

Your sysadmin is obviously not beating you hard enough.

You break my system, you're in deep shit sunny Jim.

use provisioning software like chef or puppet. using knife in chef i can spawn a new rackspace instance, install and configure my entire stack, and deploy my application all in one command. i can launch an exact copy of an application in 5 - 10 minutes - during which i do nothing but sit and watch the entire chef-client run go by. it's about as turn-key as it gets. of course writing out our entire configuration process in ruby is a bit of work - but it's front-loaded work that you never have to repeat and saves you months of tweaking and copying configuration files. you can subsequently modify quite easily to fit new deployments and new applications.

if you need it to be quicker you simply take a snapshot of the resulting instance and clone it to new instances.

Abuse abuse abuse. If I can spinup 35 minute servers for bad things, how do you keep me from doing it again without tying in billing information?

No kidding. I'm surprised, and a bit distrubed, that Amazon hasn't revoked their API keys yet.

What are they doing to prevent this kind of abuse from happening?

>Why is it so hard to have one-click templates that give you a server that can run 90% of what a user needs,

well, the thing is? yes, hardware costs are falling (and sysadmin costs are rising) to the point where it's actually cheaper for me to give you a VPS than to give you a shared hosting account.

Problem is... that's because I'm depending on you to do the sysadmin work. That's my problem with things like Cpanel and webmin, well, and pre-installed services, too. they give folks a false sense of control. I mean, with control panels, I say they work 95% of the time. The problem is that then you expect it to work all the time; you depend on it. so 5% of the time? they are kinda fucked. And if you want to take that risk, that's fine, sometimes that's rational. but I don't want to be the guy who has to clean up that 5% of the time... not for $10 a month or whatever you are paying, that's for sure.

That's why I don't like the idea of pre-installed applications in an image... As a service provider? I don't want to set the expectation that I'm going to support apache/php/ruby/node/mysql/postgresql. and pre-installing it does set the expectation, for a lot of people, that you will support it when it breaks six months from now.

i'm with you on this. i was just about to work on something like that as a side project.

give you a server that can run 90% of what a user needs

Are you saying that you just keep adding things to the server until you've covered that mythical user?

That sounds like an absolute disaster from a security, maintenance, and resource usage perspective.

I don't see what problem this solves. Start an EC2 instance (takes seconds), configure it as you want it (which to me includes a hardened, specific set of software with very specific routing rules where nginx sits in front of node, etc), and then save an AMI from your specific mix of technology.

Trivial, and perfectly suited to the user's needs. I can then spin up any number of perfectly suited instances.

>That sounds like an absolute disaster from a security, maintenance, and resource usage perspective.

Installed and available are a huge sight different from running and exploitable, though. I can have a completely unpatched Apache from 5 years ago, it's invulnerable to foes up to and including the NSA unless the app is running and listening on a port :)

Would be trickier, but not impossible for more system-level apps like Cpanel/Virtualmin.

What makes you assume an apache httpd install is secure simply because it is not running an "app"?


I think he meant it's invulnerable if httpd (the "app") isn't running.

In the context of web applications, would it make sense to stop using the word "app" to refer to software/daemons available in the distribution repositories, and instead only use "app" to mean the products and services built on the former?

app == application == executable computer code

I never thought "Made in the USA" would make me so nervous.

Me too. Is like putting "NSA passed".

Exactly my thought. Funny how things can change their meaning - it used to be something to be shown with pride and now it's more like a warning.

Nice for people who want to run temporary VPNs to access USA streaming video though.

You need to add a queue system, filling in a captcha to just get "No servers available right now :(" is pretty annoying.

Display server availability on page load and spare people their valuable time.

Ditto! I don't want to enter a CAPTCHA for nothing.

It was not for nothing. You helped digitalizing a book.

Bull. They aren't even real words.

Edit: Downvotes != disagreeing. Captcha is a serious fucking problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laEVYBxLfF0 I know the video is satirical. That's the point. There needs to be a solution that doesn't involve photocopying sodden pages from Mathematica Principia and asking users to take a guess at what on Earth the stupid squiggly lines are supposed to read.

I wouldn't advertise the "Made in USA", especially not after the NSA scandal.

At least change it to "Free NSA monitoring!"

"Free NSA backups[1]"

[1] To restore from backup, if you're a US citizen- commit a terorist or copyright offence, and collect your backedup data from your attorney at your court appearance. Non citizens can just attempt a border crossing.

The CAPTCHA really cramps your 'instant' style :( It would be great if it had more convenient ways of preventing abuse. Perhaps look at IP/current server load/user agent patterns/etc to give most people the benefit of the doubt, and only fall back to a CAPTCHA in edge cases?

Thinking about it more, just using an easier CAPTCHA would go along way to making it more user friendly. ReCaptha is hard. It usually takes me 2-3 squinting tries to get it right :/

I'm the creator. I didn't want to use a captcha, but had to put one on with all the demand. I'll switch to an easier one, if anyone has any other ideas let me know! Requiring signing in with a google account would also stop abuse, but that seems equally annoying.

That's not equally annoying, that's a total show stopper for many.

What about a choice? Either use the slightly more annoying signin with a captcha or the easier signin with a Google account without a captcha.

I don't use google, so yeah, that would stop me :)

Queue your e-mail address w/ a CAPTCHA solve

Ok. Now that "Open Terminal" thing is awesome. Nice job.

Anybody know what project that is? I'm interested in running it internally on my network without an SSH client.

It's this fantastic project: https://github.com/aluzzardi/wssh. It runs term.js on the client, and talks to an intermediate server via websockets that translates into ssh.

I'm also running that server at term.isv.io if you need to ssh into any server a pinch, but of course running your own server is the more secure solution.

This is great, but I'd just prefer to use Vagrant and VirtualBox for vanilla Ubuntu VMs that I intend to destroy. It's so easy to set up and I can use it longer than 30 minutes, for free, if I desire.

Suggestion: Please let me know there are no servers available without requiring me to type in the incredibly frustrating recaptcha.

They're reselling EC2; how can there be no servers available? Maybe they've bought a some reserved instances to get the $0.012 cents an hour cost and won't scale beyond those?

There are limits to how many EC2 instances one account can run without getting special permission from Amazon. And even when you do get permission they will only increase the limit so much. More information is available in the AWS faq: http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/faqs/#How_many_instances_can_I_run...

First thought, isn't this a tad dangerous for the supplier? There seems to be nothing stopping me from using huge amounts of bandwidth just to screw with them. Or if I really was a bad guy, how much of an effective dos attack could be launched on ec2 hosted sites in the same az from these servers?

How would you use lots of bandwidth after you created the servers?

I downloaded a couple small files with wget and got 10MB/s, so just point it at a large file, maybe even loop the command.

> This site is down. Try again later.

Looks like somebody's 35 minutes were up

Same thing here, but with a lot more flexibility: https://zrh.cloudsigma.com/ui/#/trynow

With PRISM "virtual private" just got a whole new dimension.

Yeah I was thinking the same exact thing.

Interesting. http://simpleredis.com is a similar service, but for Redis instances (for testing, CI etc), including a nice console. Instances terminates after one hour, but you can run an instance forever if you validate your email.

Been thinking about doing the same for VPS, but using LXC instead (actually already using it for internally for running tests, CI etc).

Once you have an account with Linode, spinning up another node is quick and painless, and with way more options.

Plus they're up front with their billing - I need to send in a question and wait for a email response on how much it will cost to keep it longer then 30 minutes?

I'll pass. His concept is to SAVE TIME, yet with all the missing details, it will end up costing more time (and probably money) then it's worth.

Price information is available on the second page of the "Get More Time" flow, after entering your email (or not) and hitting "Continue". I'll try to make that more obvious. Thanks for the feedback.

Or DigitalOcean. Usually about 30 seconds for an instance to spin up.

can you have a Linode account w/o having an active server? This is suppose to offer a small testing environment, fast and easy. and I guess is cheaper that Linode to just keep it a little bit longer online...

You can have a Linode account without any active VPSes on your account. If you want to spin up a Linode for a day, you get charged a prorated amount for the day(s) that it is active on your account. Pretty reasonable IMO.

Just note that you need to have an active Linode on your account in order for any DNS records hosted with Linode to be served.

I noticed, that another user is logged into the same server before me from IP 50.16.x.x. If you are monitoring sessions, you should disclose so.

I'd be interested in the mechanics behind this service. I see you are using Meteor, any other info on the stack?

How does meteor compare to, say derby and/or angular?

So ok, it copies an AMI and fires it up, thats not real exciting, right?

If you are "doing it right" you can actually get a freshly installed server in under 60 seconds if your installer isn't totally busted (IE: stock ubuntu/centos/etc).

https://bitnodes.io offers small instance for free for 1 hour when you use coupon code "hn" but you win hands down with that built-in terminal!

Well, I sure do hope that the OS image doesn't have keylogger pre-installed and auto-generated user password is not available to the owner..

Someone make this but with Docker instead. Linux containers start up in seconds, but you'd probably have to consider security a lot more.

I love this in your description:

When would I use this? Among other reasons, perhaps: You need linux but accidentally used windows

I don't mind CAPTCHA per se but this one seems to be surprisingly difficult. Other that that - nice idea.

It's reCAPTCHA, which is very popular and actually does some good (OCR help in digitizing bookz where machines fail).


Nothing but a blank white page for me.

Oh I see. You've not tested it without cookies.

It's nice to get a heads up that you require cookies, you know.

One big question I don't see answered- why are they providing this service?

Because you can pay to get longer sessions?

It costs them somewhere between $0.01 and $0.02 for every uses who doesn't pay to get a longer session. I'd expect that cost to outweigh what the get from paying users, but of course I could be wrong.

Why should I use this over DigitalOcean? One hour on the smallest VPS is .7 of a cent. Bonus: SSD.

And then you get Slashdotted. Good luck paying the bills.

Nice work. Provisioning should be just this easy.

Error: No servers right now... :(

This is great. Thank you.


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