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Conquering Vesta Control Panel - my new VPS

I felt quite good about myself last night. I've been studying VPSs on and off over the last two years, finding quite a number of Frihost members doing the same thing at a Forum that gives free VPSs for posts. I didn't bid for a free VPS, I was there mostly for the learning experience and it provided a wonderful opportunity for getting a good feel about the right price to pay for one, as well as good sources of VPSs.

At any rate, during a first try in December 2014, I had tried to install Vesta Control Panel, and horribly flunked the test then. I couldn't get the DNS to work and after several attempts of not being able to connect up my domain and finding the panel nice looking but hopelessly complicated, I had given up opting for the easier WEBUZO with all of its Softaculous scripts instead. Marching on almost two years from then, I tried again last night and I passed the test - that thrilled me to bits. I was able to install Vesta Panel - not effortlessly - but had a WordPress site up and running with domain beautifully propagated within 3 hours of installation. Granted I'd almost researched the "how to" to death for a few weeks before I embarked on the journey, but I felt a real sense of achievement when it was working. Almost all of the 3 hours was spent in configuring phpmyadmin with a few detours - but I finally discovered a patch for fixing things and felt good when phpmyadmin was working as it should. I still have one final lesson to pass, which is to get WordPress to download plugins without getting FTP requests, and then I'll be on my way. I researched that today, and may have found a solution for it.

Most people probably know that Vesta Panel is a free hosting panel along the lines of cpanel. Quite a number of people use it for setting up their VPSs. One can create hosting accounts with it if one wanted to, or use it to neatly organise all one's Websites. One can load all kinds of servers with it. My configuration was quite simple: Nginx + Apache, no FTP (I decided to go with SFTP instead), no mail server (I find it a security risk for panels these days), Bind DNS server, Firewall IP Tables + fail2ban (still have to set it up properly but thought that was necessary).

Initially VestaCP is not that user-friendly (for me anyway) as when one first looks at the panel it feels like cPanel and one wants to approach it like cPanel, but it works differently. Top part being a kind of navigation zone, and the bottom windows that correspond with the navigation links and where the action happens. So once one gets familiar with the "action windows", one learns to hover one's mouse in the top bottom area of the lower windows to discover the action links. Eventually it sinks in though. I still have lots to learn, but feel I've mastered a major hurdle.

Another huge discovery that I made was that my ISP in the UAE works faster with a VPS in Dallas, than in Atlanta, New York or Europe, Europe being the slowest. Like I used to believe that one's geographic proximity to a location is what makes everything slower, however now realize that that all depends on how one's ISP is configured to communicate with that location. My ISP is fastest with Dallas, slower with Atlanta by a few seconds, then Los Angeles by another few seconds, and markedly slower in London where its other location for this category of VPS is located. The Website for the VPSs had a cool section for pinging the speed in all of their different locations. I thought we were on a reasonably fast Server 1 at Frihost (and we are), but this felt like a nifty Volkswagen Golf in comparison. Cost is awesome, 7.95 US$ for three months for 768 vswap RAM (1 Core CPU), 500GB bandwidth and 20 GB disk space. Looks like little RAM by the norm of 1GB these days, but it works well. Comes with a self-managed OpenVZ panel for rebuilding the OS if one wanted to, rebooting, stopping and starting the VPS, resetting passwords, putting in support tickets etc. The rest, because it is self-managed is of course up to the person.

Felt really good as all of this started in 2008 when I first joined Frihost. I'm almost dead certain if Bondings had been still actively involved, we'd have been posting for free VPSs. So this is saying cheers to Bondings and the Frihost team including all of the great members who made this possible.

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