Steve Hanson's blog

CentOS 6.9

CentOS 6.9 was recently released.  We have quite a few VPS servers still running on CentOS 6.8 (and even more running on CentOS 7). We are in the process of doing testing on the new CentOS 6.9 release, and after we are sure it will not impact our customers we will be pushing it out to all of our servers.

Site Builder coming soon

We will be introducing our own Site Builder implementation soon. Need to build simple web sites? No need for a CMS platform? We'll soon be set up with an easy drag and drop site builder implementation at a very reasonable cost. Watch this space.

CentOS 7 Update

CentOS 7 (1611) was released today. This is the CentOS version of the upstream Redhat 7.3.  We expect to be upgrading our CentOS 7 servers some time within the next week. We are currently syncing our local mirros to catch up with the new release, and will then be doing some testing of the new release before upgrading production servers.

Update -- we are in the process of updating all of the CentOS 7 VPS servers -- you may see some very brief outages as we update and reboot the VPS systems.

Webmin update on all systems

We are in the process of rolling out an update to the Webmin package on all of the servers. This will fix a few annoying issues with perl failures when making changes to your DNS configuration.  This was a relatively obscure bug, and probably was not affecting most of you - but it's time to roll the change out everywhere - we have been testing it on a few servers for a couple of weeks now. 

Drupal 8 Shared Hosting

Since D8 has come out there has been a lot of speculation about the fact that it is too big to run in shared hosting.  We beg to differ.  If you are using Drupal 8 and don't really need the benefits of a VPS, there's no reason you cannot run in one of our D8 shared hosting plans - just buy the D8 special.  This is a plan specially bulit for the requirements of Drupal 8.  It includes more recent versions of MariaDB for your database, a selection of PHP versions - you can even run in PHP 7 if your site will work there, and get the big advantages of PHP 7 performance. You get enough memory to run D8 successfully, and an editable php.ini file for your own site so you can adjust PHP parameters yourself.  Plus of course you get to deal with people who Drupal all day, so we'll never tell you "we don't support Drupal" like some other hosts will. We have recently invested in more infrastructure and bandwidth - it's just waiting to be filled up.

What Hosting Plan for Me?

We offer a range of different hosting plans, as do other hosting companies. We try to be straightforward about what our plans offer, and don't promise you "unlimited" everything. Why? Because most companies promise you unlimited, and it is unlimited until you use more resources than they can afford to provide. The dirty secret of the hosting industry is that any time a provider says unlimited, they never mean it.

In that light, we offer several stock hosting plans. Our Garden Plot plan is a small plan, with limited resources.  It is intended to be used for static sites, and Drupal and Wordpress sites with minimal requirements, particularly with minimal requirements for memory, as we only allow you 64MB of PHP at a maximum.

Most Drupal and Wordpress sites will be more comfortable in our Half-Acre plan - this allows you considerably more RAM, and more control over your account.  You get your own php.ini file, which you can edit (either from your Virtualmin control panel, or by using ssh to go right on the server and edit the file yourself.  There is a separate php.ini file for each version of PHP. You can select PHP versions in your control panel, either by domain, or even by directory. 

If you are really pumping out pages, you should be looking at a VPS plan. The VPS is not necessarily faster than the shared plans, but they are more flexible and you have complete control over the server.  You also have a guarantee of performance for your own server, and can handle a much higher number of page requests.  You can install software packages yourself on the server, and make any configuration changes you need.  VPS systesm include root access to the server and can reboot it if you wish. On all of our shared and VPS instances we provide operating system upgrades as part of the service. 

Beyond that we are unusual in that we will happily design and buld a custom environment for you.  Need redundant databases ? we can do that. Need multiple web servers? We can do that too.Need Varnish, or Memcache?  It's available. We also can provide consulting on performance issues for Drupal and help you to tune your server to get the most out of it. 

In other words, if you are looking for reliable, performant, and flexible CMS hosting, you're in the right place. 

New Fully Redundant Options

We are currently rolling out some fully-redundant server options - these are plans with two web server VPS's, two Varnish servers, MariaDB in master-master configuration, and a fully redundant file server in Glusterfs.  This will allow us to offer reasonably-priced systems with all-redundant components.  We do not have firm pricing for this yet, and are just starting to put up a few configurations for some of our bigger clients.  More news soon.

CentOS 6 servers upgrading to 6.8

We are in the process of upgrading our remaining CentOS 6 servers to CentOS 6.8 - this is a new release which has a number of improvements.  We do not expect anyone to see any issues with this upgrade, which should be transparent other than a few server reboots to install the new kernel. 

We are also slowly migrating most hosting plans to CentOS 7.  Our new CentOS 7 builds have a lot of new features including a large selection of PHP versions, and a lot of newer facilities for Drupal developers.

Why Host With Us?

As with every hosting company, we're not for everyone. Most of the people who host with us do so for one of several reasons:

  • They're tired of dealing with huge commodity-hosting companies that don't understand their needs, and can't be bothered to help. We're a small company. If you have a problem you'll deal with someone who actually has a stake in the company and (I promise) will do their best to help.

  • The one-size-fits-all hosting plans at most companies really don't fit anyone. We have some small shared hosting plans, like everyone else, but we also are willing to do customized hosting packages for the people who don't fit. We're flexible. One example? Our plans offer your choice of different PHP versions which you can select on the control panel. Just pick what you need.

  • We are very committed to supporting Drupal. We support Drupal from our small shared hosting plans to our full dedicated server plans. We're particularly excited to be supporting a shared hosting plan that works quite well with Drupal 8, and includes all of the tools you'll need for D8 support. Don't get us wrong, this is still a shared hosting plan, with the limitations that brings, but it's a great platform for doing development work and production hosting for lower volume D8 sites. 

  • We understand CMS systems, particularly Drupal and Wordpress. Our servers are built for CMS systems – but they're also general hosting solutions, so if you need to host a static site or Ruby on Rails or some other environment, we can help there too.

  • Our servers are all managed. So for example, though our VPS systems may cost a little more per month than with some providers, you also won't need to update the server software yourself, or work to keep your server running – we do the server management so you don't have to.

  • You get full control over the server. All of our plans include ssh access, and our servers have web devel tools like drush, composer, node.js, ansible, git, and more pre-installed for you. So you get the power of a real login, with many of the tools you'll need installed already.

  • We think your devel workflow is your decision. The trend with a lot of the CMS hosting companies is to pre-build your workflow. We realize that works great for some people – but for others it doesn't. We're happy to work with you, and we think you should get what you want, not what we want.

  • We have a strong commitment to Open Source, including in our hosting environment. Our stack, control panel and more are all Open Source software (and we think Virtualmin/Webmin/Cloudmin are a lot better than Cpanel).

  • If you need something else, let us know – we can probably work something out.


The talk of the Internet for the last few days has been a new exploit termed ImageTragick - CVE-2016–3714.  It's a potential exploit on any server with the ImageMagick package installed that runs web apps that do not check properly for file type before displaying a file manipulated through the Convert command. It doesn't look like Drupal is VERY exploitable by this (and would only be exploitable if the site used ImageMagick, which is not a lot of them.  Wordpress will also only be vulnerable if it uses an extension that calls ImageMagick. 

However, since our clients run all sorts of code on our servers, we have just taken steps to mitigate this vulnerability on all of our servers. We don't think this will have any bad effects on any production sites - but if you're suddenly having issues with image processing, this may be why.  We've patched the policy.xml file on all of the servers as suggested by Red Hat and CentOS. This should stop any potential exploits until such time that actual patches for ImageMagick are available that are known to actually fix the exploit - probably next week.


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