Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

[Meta] My Faults My Own is now (happily) hosted by Digital Ocean

discount code: If you sign up for Digital Ocean with my referral link, you get $10 of credit and I get $25 of credit after you've spent your first $25. This link should be good indefinitely, and I'm getting no compensation for this review.

Amongst all of the large transitions happening in my life about now, I found it necessary to move my blog server from "some borrowed machine on the Harvard network" to a real-adult location, like "the cloud". After asking a few friends for recommendations, I decided to rent server time from Digital Ocean, at least as a stopgap measure until the end of the summer, when I'd be able to pick out my own internet plan.

I'm glad to report that I couldn't be happier with DO's service. Spinning up a new virtual server and migrating Faults to it was probably the easiest piece of system administration that I've done. I gave them my credit card number, told them that I wanted a $5/mo Ubuntu box, and within two minutes, I had an IP address and login details in my email inbox. Then it was a simple matter of copying RSA keys, an rcp on ~/web/, a separate rcp to handle /etc/nginx/sites-available/, a few apt-get installs and npm installs, a call to node ~/web/ghost/index.js, and a DNS edit at Namecheap (my domain registrar)...and I was done. No gotcha problems. No Google searches that ended up in random Linux users' forums. The experience felt exactly like DO's billing: Simple cloud computing, built for developers.

10/10; would use again.

(It's worth noting that Ghost, my blogging platform, and Cloud9, my cloud-based IDE, both deserve separate commendations for not getting in the way or mucking up the process.)

I'm even using my DO server for some exploratory simulation work related to my summer economics research (more on that later), but in that, I sometimes find myself frustrated by the 0.5GB of main memory and limited disk storage. It's enough to make me miss the days when my lab machine sported terabytes of disk and all of the RAM I could salvage out of other dead lab machines. Perhaps when I land in New York, I'll again have a real machine to ssh into. But until then, this is a pretty good substitute.

edit: As of January 2018, Digital Ocean upgraded the $5/mo plan to 1GB of main memory, from 0.5GB. (It also upgraded that plan's disk to 25GB from 20GB, but I'd only used ~10GB in the past year and a half, so that's less exciting to me.)

The upgrade process was super-quick, with total downtime probably <4min. (I didn't think to time it.) Even more positive recommendation for DO!

edit: DO caused a single hiccup in upgrading Ubuntu (from 14.04 to 16.04); the default /etc/apt/sources.list came with only DO mirrors, so do-release-upgrade couldn't do its work after deactivating third-party mirrors.

I fixed this by adding two lines to my /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://mirror.math.princeton.edu/pub/ubuntu/ trusty main 
deb-src http://mirror.math.princeton.edu/pub/ubuntu/ trusty main

...so that I had an official mirror that wouldn't be deactivated in the upgrade process. (Anything in the list of official mirrors would have worked; I picked something up-to-date and high-bandwidth that I trusted.)