I’d heard good things about them already, especially on Hacker News, praising their competitive pricing and clean dashboard. However, being newcomers to the field, I didn’t want to jump ship too abruptly, as I was still a happy Linode customer.
But, in April, Linode got hacked. Password hashes, source code fragments and even credit card statements were all rumored to be extracted. So okay, things like this happen, but the way how Linode dealt with the whole situation was less than optimal: first, they tried to ignore the problem; then, this was followed by a statement afterwards advising people to reset their password due to “security precautions”. This is turn was followed by an update which was a bit more transparent, but still somewhat surprising.
One of the staff mentions the following in the comments of the update post:
@Eivind. our private key is stored only in encrypted format. The passphrase is not guessable, sufficiently long and complex, not based on dictionary words, and not stored anywhere but in our heads.
The hackers, on the other hand, came out with a different statement altogether:
06:00 \<AlexC_> ryann: So, are you saying CC details have also been compromised? 06:00 \<ryann> Yep 06:00 \<AlexC_> ryann: And you plan on releasing these? 06:00 \<ryann> They did try to encrypt them, but using public key encryption doesn’t work if you have the public and private key in the same directory
Of course, statements such as these should be taken with a grain of salt, as it could easily be hyperbolic bragging. Still, the whole ordeal left many Linode users with a bitter aftertaste.
So recently, I had a look at Digital Ocean to see if they’re worth their salt. First difference is in pricing, and it’s a pretty big one:
- DigitalOcean: $10 / mo. for 1GB, 1 Core, 30GB space, 2TB transfer
- Linode: $20 / mo. for 1GB, 8 Cores, 24GB space, 2TB transfer
Linode has DigitalOcean beat on CPU power, but DigitalOcean has the SSD advantage. Jason Ormand has performed a benchmark and goes more into the technical details.
So with a new host comes a new opportunity to execute a clean Ubuntu install. In the same vein as the previous post, let’s get right to it…
1. Install Ubuntu
This is a single-click process with DigitalOcean. I’m using Ubuntu Server 13.04 x64. You will get a root account with password.
2. Always be updating and upgrading
3. Synchronize the system clock
Synchronize the system clock with an NTP server over the Internet.
apt-get install ntp ntpdate
SSH is installed already, so we skip this. We also don’t have to configure our network, but you can check the hostname with:
4. Add users
Add some users. Adding a
webmaster is recommended:
useradd -d /home/webmaster -m webmaster
adduser webmaster sudo
5. Secure SSH
# Always a good idea to not listen at the default port
# Prohibit root logins
Then restart SSH and login again with a normal user:
service ssh restart
sudo su should allow you to continue as root.
Install MySQL. You will be asked for a root password.
apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
bind-address = 127.0.0.1 in
If you wish, you can also opt to use MariaDB instead.
7. Postfix for SMTP support
apt-get install postfix procmail
Make sure to pick the following:
General type of configuration?
--> Internet Site
And would through the questions. Defaults are fine, but you can disable IPv6 if you want to.
Next, we make sure to listen to local interface only:
postconf -e 'inet_interfaces = loopback-only'
service postfix restart
apt-get install apache2 apache2-mpm-prefork apache2-utils ssl-cert
apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php5-common php5-curl php5-dev php5-gd php5-idn php-pear php5-imagick php5-imap php5-json php5-mcrypt php5-memcache php5-mhash php5-ming php5-mysql php5-ps php5-pspell php5-recode php5-snmp php5-sqlite php5-tidy php5-xmlrpc php5-xsl
Enable some modules:
Adding subdomains is done with vhosts in
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
DirectoryIndex index.html index.htm index.php
allow from all
CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined
Don’t forget to edit the default virtualhost with a
NameVirtualHost * and
php.ini if needed.
apt-get install proftpd ucf
Make sure to pick
service proftpd restart
We don’t install phpMyAdmin anymore.
apt-get install phpmyadmin if you want to.
Making it easy for our “webmaster”:
chown -R webmaster:www-data /var/www
chmod 775 -R /var/www
11. Install fail2ban
apt-get install fail2ban
Don’t forget to configure a jail.local and add custom filters if needed.
We do not install Slowloris protection any more. Attacks using this method seem to have stopped/weakened.
12. Final migration
- Move user files
- Configure all virtualhosts
- Move data bases
- Keep a copy of
- Move SSL keys
tar cvpzf backup.tgz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys --exclude=/dev --exclude=/usr --exclude=/bin --exclude=/sbin --exclude=/backup.tgz /
It’s a pity this last step can’t be automated. I guess it would be possible to create an image and move it over the another VPS, but this will bring along all the extra filler you maybe don’t want anymore.
My experience with DigitalOcean was pleasant so far. The SSD drives make installing
apt packages a real breeze. I’m not migrating completely from Linode yet (hosting too many sites at the moment with them), but I’ll definitely launch new projects over there.