Steve Hanson's blog

CMS-Farm Closing

Hi -

This morning I would like to note that we are no longer accepting new hosting contracts. As the owner of the company I have decided to retire from the hosting and support business, and have decided that the cleanest path forward is simply to shut the company down and to assist customers in finding hosting and support options elsewhere. It's been a great run, and I've enjoyed working with my great clients and other consultants and companies - but it's time to stop. I'll slowly be dis-entangling this site from the hosting infrastructure and changing the setup on our sales site. But note that as of today we are no longer accepting new clients.

Thanks - it's been great, but it's time to move on to other things.

Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

You may have seen some of the recent media coverage of these two processor vulnerabilities.  Meltdown affects almost all Intel processors  even someone my age can remember.  Spectre affects to varying degress both AMD and Intel processors.

This is potentially a serious issue.  Operating Sytem patches are currently rolling out for the Meltdown issue, although we have not received them yet for CentOS. Sadly the patches cause as-yet-unknown performance degradation on computers. We expect those effects to be fairly minimal for our particular processor load.

CentOS 7 servers upgrading to 7.4

We are in the process of testing out the new CentOS release on our servers.  So far this is all going very well, and we expect to be upgrading all of the servers running CentOS 7 to CentOS 7.4.1708 over the next week.   We do not expect anyone to see any issues with this other than a brief outage to reboot the individual VPS servers.  These outages should last a few minutes at most, although at some time we will also be scheduling some more hardwar reboots of physical servers that WILL have a longer downtime.

Virtualmin 6 coming

We are currently rolling out Virtualmin Version 6 to our servers. Version 6 will allow some important new changes to our hosting environment.  Note that these changes and improvements are not immediately available, but will be possible in the next few months due to the new Virtualmin release. Some of these upcoming changes include:

  • VPS and Dedicated servers will be able to run PHP under PHP-FPM rather than FCGID.  This will allow for better cache sharing and performance. Shared servers will continue to use FCGID since that will allow us to let you enable different PHP versions for different websites.
  • Some improvements in the backup environment
  • Virtualmin secure certificates per domain, allowing us to get rid of the secure certificate errors on the control panel.
  • Chroot jails - increased security, particularly for shared hosting clients.

More on all of this as we roll the features out over the next few months.  For the time being, we're just laying the groundwork. 

Coming Soon - new spam filtering

We will soon be providing an additional system for spam and virus filtering. We have always provided email services for our hosting customers.  Soon we will also be providing an optional cloud-based spam and virus filtering system provided by Spamexperts. We are in the final stages of testing this solution.  It's easy to install, and will be very low-priced. We do spam filtering currently on all  of our email accounts using some very good open source filtering solutions (note that these ONLY apply to email addresses that have mailboxes on our serverrs - we do not spam filter email that is just passing through an alias on your domain).

The new cloud-based Spamexperts service scans your email before it reaches our servers and will therefore filter ALL email for your domain, whether it is delivered to a mailbox or forwarded through to a different domain.

There are quite a few differences between the two spam filtering systems -- we will write more about it before it becomes available to our customers.

Weebly is Coming!

We have been evaluating simple site building software for several months now and have decided to offer the Weebly site bulder.

We are teaming up with Weebly to pvoide you with a simple web builder.  Not all sites need the power of a full CMS system.  Some time before June 1 we will be offering a special series of Weebly-based hosting plans that let you build simple web sites with the Weebly site builder, while still hosting your sites with us. We are working on clearing up some of the issues of making this totally transparent and easy. Plans will start under $10/month for the site buildier and hosting.  Even the smallest plan will include e-commerce capabilities. More on this in a week or two.

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.

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.


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