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Running Debian 4 on 2Host.com

I am getting a lot of comments on the 2HOST post we had a week ago. Indeed $5/month Xen VPS with 512MB is very cheap. There has been a bit of sus at the beginning whether this is indeed a legitimate business, as many of its legal PDF documents are missing from their site. They managed to fix it up. Then we’ve got comments complaining that “things” don’t work. C’mon! It is an unmanaged Xen VPS! You got room, and you have a dedicated-server like environment — what else should you ask for?!

Sorry for the insult, but one reader had issue with getting Debian 4 up and running. I suspected that might be a competence issue. Just to prove the point, I went ahead and ordered a 512MB VPS from 2HOST myself, and gave a try on getting Debian 4 Etch up and running.


Ordered at 11:09am, and the activation email received at 10:08pm. 11 hours turn around — could be better but not bad. Debian 4 is not part of the ordering option so I opted for Debian 5. It does not really matter anyway as it will be scrapped.

Setting Up VPS in HyperVM

In the activation letter it contains the address to HyperVM and username+password to access it.

  • Log into HyperVM with credential provided.
  • Click on Rebuild
  • Change “Ostemplate” to “debian-4.0-x86_64”
  • Check “Confirm rebuild”
  • Click on Update

Wait for a minute or two for Debian 5 to be zapped and Debian 4 to be installed on the Xen VPS.

Logging into VPS as Root

Problem with 2HOST’s Debian 4 template is that you cannot log into your VPS as root via SSH, because PermitRootLogin has been set to no. It’s good for security reason, but not that good for your VPS customers trying to set up a new VPS!

However HyperVM/Xen provides console access. In VM Home page,

  • Click on “Console Access”
  • An Java applet will start to log you into the console.
  • Use your HyperVM credential to log in, and you’ll be dropped into a Bash prompt.
  • Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config, and change PermitRootLogin to yes.
  • Run /etc/init.d/ssh restart to use the new setting.

Now you can log into your VPS via regular SSH client as root.

Setting up Swap

I have also noted that swap was not enabled for Debian 4, even though /dev/sda2 is available as a swap partition.

# mkswap /dev/sda2
# swapon /dev/sda2
# echo '/dev/sda2 none swap sw 0 0' >> /etc/fstab

Now you have a usable Debian 4 Etch VPS on x86_64 with 512MB memory and 1GB swap space!

Server Spec

To those who are interested.

  • Kernel running 2.6.18-128.1.10.el5xen
  • 8 CPU cores under /proc/cpuinfo — Intel Xeon E5420 @ 2.5Ghz

Cheers! Feel free to ask me any question in the comments.

Latest posts by LEA (see all)


  1. Quote your post here:
    “Then we’ve got comments complaining that “things” don’t work. C’mon! It is an unmanaged Xen VPS! You got room, and you have a dedicated-server like environment — what else should you ask for?!”

    I’ve got another VPS with Burst Networks Australia that you post here to (http://www.lowendbox.com/blog/burstnetworks-a10-openvz-vps-with-512mb/), it works fine ’till now. Everything in their box works fine. It’s unmanaged VPS too, same like 2host offer, but with no need to install anything else (modules, etc.) inside the box.

    However, I like your review here, and try some of them. Your blog is my guide, many thanks :)

    June 3, 2009 @ 2:42 am | Reply
  2. xyzzy:

    I got one of those 2HOST boxes. Initially the system time was off by over *eight hours*, but a support ticket later, it’s now only off by three seconds … which means it’s probably not NTP synced and it’ll get worse over time. Xen domUs don’t get their own system clocks so if they stuff this up you can’t fix it yourself.

    I get the sinking feeling that I’m dealing with a company which knows less about running Xen hosting than I do. Sure, they’re cheap, but what other horrors lie in store?

    June 3, 2009 @ 4:35 am | Reply
  3. No independent clock?


    # echo "1" > /proc/sys/xen/independent_wallclock

    And then you can run ntpd to keep your VM in sync…

    June 3, 2009 @ 4:57 am | Reply
  4. xyzzy:

    Whoops … okay, you’re right, I was working off old docs that said that was in /proc/xen which I couldn’t find (because it’s now /proc/sys/xen, as you say). Wipes egg off face, etc. I still maintain that if in their default configuration VMs get a second a day of clock drift (was off by 3s when I complained yesterday, is at 4s now) then their competency is in question. But hey, for $5/mo, they’ll do OK as one of my redundant spam filter proxies.

    June 3, 2009 @ 5:13 am | Reply
  5. Agree that unable to keep the dom0 in sync definitely suck, which also shows the kind of hardware they got (although 2x quadcore Xeon with a server grade board should at least have a good accurate onboard clock).

    Yeah. With $5/month VPS, I won’t go mad even if they go out of business the next morning…

    June 3, 2009 @ 8:35 am | Reply
  6. Tom:

    I have nothing but praise for 2HOST so far. Out of 4 VPS hosts i setup 2 weekends ago they were the only one where i had the vps instance up and running within 30 minutes.

    June 3, 2009 @ 10:04 am | Reply
  7. xisxon:

    I can’t login to sshd when rebuild with Slackware (requested) :D sadly, i love Slack.

    June 3, 2009 @ 10:11 am | Reply
  8. Bob:

    @LowEndAdmin, I wrote a small review of my 2host experience on the other 2host article, but I think its still under moderation.

    June 3, 2009 @ 7:55 pm | Reply
  9. Rudi:

    Great blog!
    are you running this site on vpslink.com ?… it seems to perform very well

    June 5, 2009 @ 9:15 am | Reply
  10. @Rudi Yes this is hosted on VPSLink. It’s “just” a single Core 2 Duo but I found it’s a very under-sold one…

    June 5, 2009 @ 1:30 pm | Reply
  11. Rudi:

    thanks for the reply … suggestion: In case you find this useful for your readers … can you deploy your blog on 2host with ROBOTS NOFOLLOW
    xcuse my english

    June 5, 2009 @ 2:22 pm | Reply
  12. Bob:

    I think this host uses a hub instead of a switch. Today all of a sudden I noticed a huge burst in traffic even though I wasn’t doing anything. I pulled up iftop (a network monitor), and I noticed that someone on my subnet was transferring a huge amount and lagging my instance.

    This has privacy and speed ramifications.

    Keep in mind this is all in non-promiscuous mode! Someone else please help verify this, and anything we can do.

    June 6, 2009 @ 8:02 am | Reply
  13. @Bob — indeed it’s the case, where I am getting packets going to other VPS on eth0. It’s not really hub vs. switch though — more likely a xen configuration issue.

    June 6, 2009 @ 1:45 pm | Reply
  14. Lincoln:

    I’ve been extremely happy with my 2HOST VPS, and yes I ordered during the promotional week.

    I am not bothered in the least by the lack of TOS/SLA paperwork or by the fact that the host uses self-signed SSL certs for some of its web sites. What good did any of that paperwork ever do anybody in the budget VPS market space?

    So far it’s turned out to have been an excellent risk to take. I haven’t had any issues whatsoever with it.

    June 6, 2009 @ 3:23 pm | Reply
  15. Bob:

    @LowEndAdmin is that configurable on our end? Or is it possible to ask 2host to fix it?

    June 6, 2009 @ 7:29 pm | Reply
  16. oggy:

    The turnaround time for my box was 36 hours (have to say I placed my order on Friday afternoon though, so my timing kinda sucked). The account is now set up, but my (freshly built) image won’t boot. It seems that the issue is related to a HyperVM upgrade which is not getting along with the dom0. And it’s been going on for ~10 hours already.

    On the positive side, it shows that they were prompt to update quickly in response to the latest HyperVM vulnerability. If they would just do it properly…

    June 7, 2009 @ 8:34 pm | Reply
  17. LP:

    Just by curiosity, I wanted to install Debian as well… except I didn’t have access to the Hypervm.

    Left a ticket, and they told me “HyperVM is disabled for security reasons. Please let us know if you need anything done inside the HyperVM panel.”

    Is this kind of weird or is it just me being paranoid again? ;)

    June 15, 2009 @ 11:29 am | Reply
  18. Sean:

    WTF, the invoice page send me to a paypal page in Dutch!

    DOes this happen to everyone?

    June 18, 2009 @ 12:52 am | Reply
  19. @LP — Debian 5 is okay — just not Debian 4. However you should still have console access (although you might need to email support to know about your console’s IP address).

    @Sean — yes me too. Except I have no idea that it was Dutch :)

    June 18, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Reply
  20. Sean:

    LowEndAdmin – credit goes to google translate (detect language). OK. just signed up. waiting for magic to happen. Guess XEN provisioning is much slower in this case. thanks for the site with the info I am looking for.

    June 18, 2009 @ 1:33 am | Reply
  21. kbroom:

    Hmmm I signed up 3 days ago and my VPS is still not up. I entered tickets for support with HIGH priority and still have not heard back. I hope I didn’t loose my money… Is anyone else on the same boat?

    June 18, 2009 @ 1:55 am | Reply
  22. noa:

    just wondering.. anyone is able to send mail that doesn’t go to the spam folder to majors online webmails like hotmail, yahoo or gmail?

    Tried about everything possible, different smtp servers, SPF/Sender ID, mail signature and others but the mails still land in the spam folder.

    Even the 2host.com mails do land in the spam folder on my hotmail box when they send something…. kind of weird.

    June 20, 2009 @ 12:18 pm | Reply
  23. Gary:

    No problems for me receiving email from 2host.com which arrives okay in my googlemail account and is not mistakenly marked as spam.

    June 29, 2009 @ 1:50 pm | Reply
  24. Alberto:

    I signed up to 2host 1 week ago. It still hasn’t been set-up, and none of my support tickets have been replyed to. A big thanks to myself for choosing monthly! I was wondering what anyone thought the problem might be as I have received no form of contact and have already paid. Cheers.

    July 26, 2009 @ 6:14 pm | Reply
  25. noa:

    I didn’t get any answer either from them after submitting a ticket 5 days ago after receiving a email saying that I didn’t pay for July… The ticket I opened had the Paypal reference showing that I had pay the money they’re asking; but they, or the system, took my server down anyway. I removed the PayPal subscription and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll pay month to month if somebody revive my server whenever I get a invoice now if they didn’t run away already, but I doubt they did since I found HyperVM running on another port and not firewalled anymore. My IP got banned from their site after trying to connect to the HyperVM panel and the slave server last night.

    a couple of people on this site and Webhostingtalk seem to be in the same situation as yours Alberto. Nobody seem got word from them, or had their system set up, after ordering.

    July 27, 2009 @ 6:53 am | Reply
  26. Hmm. That would be a worry. $5 Xen VPS with 512MB is definitely loss leading so maybe 2Host is trying to boot people off?

    July 27, 2009 @ 11:43 am | Reply
  27. noa:

    Hopefully not.

    On WHT, among a few people who ordered a $5 plan, there’s somebody claiming that he ordered a regular $30 VPS from them last week hasn’t been set up yet and that he didn’t get any answer after submitting a ticket either. Furthermore, after digging a bit, it seems that 2host doesn’t seem to reply to tickets or emails anymore since last week.

    I canceled that Paypal subscription since it was linked to another invoice number and the invoice they sent has a different number. I didn’t get any invoice, or anything, from them when Paypal automatically pulled money from my account the 5th July to pay for that VPS. I didn’t think much about it until their billing system had a license problem on July 21~22 and, strangely, right after it got fixed, I got that invoice saying that I owe them money for July.

    I paid for that claim, I’m not rich but I can spare 3euros/$5, submitted another ticket asking them to reactivate my server and I also included the PayPal transaction number from the 5th July as well the new one from last night.

    What puzzles me is that when my server went down, my VPS was still marked as active in the client interface and not as suspended. I didn’t get a email saying that they closed my server because I didn’t pay either.

    trying to think positively since they’ve always been nice and answered quickly to the couple of tickets I submitted; but I fear the worst.

    July 27, 2009 @ 2:29 pm | Reply
  28. Alberto:

    Quote, ‘Furthermore, after digging a bit, it seems that 2host doesn’t seem to reply to tickets or emails anymore since last week.’ That can only be a good thing – if everyone from last week isn’t being replyed to, then it could mean that they have a summer break – maybe in a week or so, all of our tickets will be answered at once – lets wait and see! Cheers, Alberto.

    July 27, 2009 @ 3:04 pm | Reply
  29. It has been almost 2 months since I wrote this post and my 2HOST.com VPS is still running fine (pretty fast too for the $5/month I’ve paid). The only issue is patchy DNS server as I sometimes got DNS resolution error and have to revert to OpenDNS as my resolving DNS server…

    July 28, 2009 @ 12:02 am | Reply
  30. Alberto:

    Yesterday I also signed up for HostLatch on their $5 deal. It’s already been set-up and is fast. Fine, its only 256MB RAM – not 512MB, but it offers 5GB more space and set-up only takes 4h – not 9 days! I reccomend HostLatch to everyone who doesnt want to waste $5/£3.11. Cheers, Alberto.

    July 28, 2009 @ 8:25 am | Reply
  31. noa:

    Never had a problem either until this and didn’t miss a payment either. heck, I even paid twice for July! I guess, my mistake was to select the automatic payment option that was given for Paypal when I ordered a VPS beginning of June. If they were around to answer tickets, they would have checked the first ticket I opened on the 22 and compared the paypal transaction number since the money has been sent to the same gmail account when I paid a second time for July. Though, on the new paypal invoice, there’s a new mail -> paypal@.com… so not sure if they really are around but not answering or left for a vacation as Alberto mentioned, or what’s going on at 2host. At least, it doesn’t seem that they ran away since the HyperVM main server is back but HyperVM is running on a different port.

    tried to run bind9 on the VPS too and ran into a similar problem, so now I use the free DNS service from namecheap.com. editdns.net has a good and fast free dns service too

    July 28, 2009 @ 10:08 am | Reply
  32. noa:

    Oh, I forgot to ask. Alberto, did they set your VPS up or answered to your ticket yet?

    July 28, 2009 @ 10:10 am | Reply
  33. No, nothing – its like a server with an empty control room. I couldn’t wait much longer – I was letting customers down – so last night I signed up with HostLatch – and the service is fantastic – do what I did – forget about the $5 (well, $10 for you) and pull out. They really are a waste of time. I hope you find a good host! Alberto. P.S. Sorry I cant help!

    July 28, 2009 @ 12:16 pm | Reply
  34. noa:

    yes, I will. I just moved to a new appartment and I don’t have an internet connection yet so waiting to see for now. I’ve paid more than needed for July too so I afford to wait. if nobody’s home and people keep ordering server and then submit complains to Paypal because they didn’t get anything, they, 2host, will/might have their account temp frozen at some point even if they’re offering virtual goods regarding Paypal TOS.

    July 29, 2009 @ 12:13 pm | Reply
  35. Activated this morning and working – still, I don’t think anyone can afford to have this service and have to wait this long to have it activated – its nearly been 2 weeks now! Anyway, I’m going to end this at the end of the billing period.

    July 29, 2009 @ 7:33 pm | Reply
  36. noa:

    my server is back as well but ticket hasn’t been answered yet. I guess I’ll go for a regular hosting with a dedicated IP for my ssl cert or for a 9 euros OVH RPS when I’ll open my store if I don’t find anything cheaper and reliable.
    I’ll just keep this one as a playbox for now. It’s a shame as their connection it’s damn fast from France, and I suppose the speed is the same everywhere else in Europe.

    July 30, 2009 @ 11:27 am | Reply
  37. Do any of you have problems with accessing ssh ? Im getting “Server unexpectedly closed network connection” from putty when i try to connect.

    And my profile at the support panel doesnt seem to work..

    August 10, 2009 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

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