Moving day

Saturday is moving day. Nope, we haven’t bought a new house. We hope not to have to do that for a long time. It’s time to change ISPs. After only 10 months with Linksky, I’ve had enough. In the past year, between working on the non-profit’s website and my own, I’ve had the following issues:

  • arbitrary version changes with no notification
  • random breakage due to “security” upgrades – like the time w e couldn’t do anything with a friend’s account or email because his last name contained the letters “curl”
  • random lockouts of service
  • insults from the security “guru” because he thinks he knows more about Unix and IT security than anyone else around
  • etc.

The last straw for me came earlier this year when a gallery page broke. I tried to login to diagnose the problem and found that they had removed my SSH access. When I emailed, I was to ld there is a “security issue” that makes sites with SSH more vulnerable and that they were looking for a workaround and would re-enable SSH by the weekend. Outside of dictionary attacks on passwords, this is really complete BS. Of course, the weekend came and nope, no SSH. Another week rolled around, no SSH. Forget this.

I started looking around for alternatives. I’m using Pair Networks at the office and they are okay. Hunter pointed me to Dreamhost. Yeah, I know they had recent billing issues, but no one can touch their current hosting offer (500 GB of storage) + 5 TB of data transfer per month, unlimited domains, Python, PHP and RubyOnRails (I don’t want to develop in RoR, but my preferred todo list program, Tracks, requires RoR), etc. With all of that and $50 off of a one year contract, I had to go Dreamhost.

Within 10 minutes of signing up, I had Tracks running on a mirror domain. Yay!

Then I started trying to migrate my current domains off of Linksky and onto Dreamhost. This turns out to be more than a little tricky without SSH access! I finally told it to create a backup. The backup turned out to contain all db, email and file data – great! That’s sort of easier than tar-gz directly. Unfortunately, the file was 1.5+ GB. I tried ftp-ing it from Linksky (ironically, the great security gurus have disallowed SSH, but allow/require unencrypted ftp with your main account and password). Unfortunately, ftp is apparently rate limited. At times, I was getting only 1 byte/second and it failed after downloading about 50 MB. Fine, I tried to use the web file interface to move the backup into webspace where I could wget it from Dreamhost. Oops – the web interface doesn’t move, it copies then deletes. After copying 420 MB, it failed. I couldn’t SSH into do a soft link or a move, the web interface had no softlink capability. I finally punted and wrote a 1 line php script that created the softlink into webspace. After all of that, I was able to download to DH (though it seemed to temporarily fail at 1.5 GB).

You start to see why I might be looking to change ISPs. The great irony to cap it all off: importing the gallery db, moving the files into place and updating the config to point to the new db completely resolved the gallery problems. There was nothing to diagnose, nothing to fix, on DH it worked, on Linksky it didn’t. It was probably another silent “upgrade” or “security fix” Linksky applied that broke it.

Hopefully I won’t have to change from DH any time soon. In the meantime, most everything seems to be up an running on the DH mirror domain. I’ll change the DNS servers on Saturday, so there may be a little weirdness until that settles out. If I can get GoDaddy to lower the TTL on the authoritative DNS servers for the domains, things may resolve even faster.

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