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So What do I Run On? Raindog308's LowEnd Empire and Preferred LowEnd Provider List

raindog308 lowend empireMy VM needs are modest…but since I like to do things in a highly professional manner, my empire is somewhat big.

I think my desire to have my own little IT department is a release for decades of working in enterprise IT in big companies.  Big companies are slow to change, often run outdated software because of complicated ecosystems, and invariably have many systems that don’t conform to the corporate standards because a company was just bought two years ago, etc.

In my IT environment everything runs on my standard, everything is perfectly configured to my policies, and there are no exceptions.

(Actually, now that I think about it, my wife still has a Win 7 PC.  So I guess there is an executive sponsoring a rogue system even at home.)

But at least on the server side, perfection is achieved.  Here’s what my empire looks like.  I do have a small VM farm at home, so some things such as Minecraft and other game servers I run there.

Pro Tip: Want a fun way to keep track of your servers?  Fire up an instance of My Idlers at PikaPods!

ColoCrossing Dedicated Server: got this for $20/month last December (part 1, part 2) and it’s been a tank.  My main web server, web development server, etc.

CrunchBits: Got a couple tasty VMs from them.  One is my main Plex server with 4TB of glory on tap at all times.  The other is my crash/lab server.  If I want to try something out on Debian, CentOS, etc. I nuke and rebuild.

Hetzner: My main private-tracker seedbox, just because you can get so much for so little.  Hetzner to me is like the poor man’s AWS.  It’s cheaper and bandwidth is bundled, but you still get some essentials like firewalls and block storage.  Here’s my server auction dedi which is 61 euros a month:

Server Auction

I used to run more on Hetzner, but I like to spread my love all over the LowEnd community.

RackNerd: Ridiculous specs for cheap prices (see for yourself).  Has always been good for me.  I wish they didn’t use Solus but other than that, I have no complaints.  I use one of these as a beacon servers.

Allow me to digress…

When I’m traveling, I like to be able to connect to home.  Typical scenario is I have something on a file server I need at home, so I login and copy it there to Dropbox, then it downloads to my laptop.  Or sometimes restart something if something isn’t working and the family is complaining (sounds like work IT more and more).  To prevent intruders, I use the following system, since all I need is SSH access:

  • Two landing zone/bastion hosts at home.  These are OpenBSD servers.
  • They only accept SSH from two VMs on the Internet.  RackNerd is one,  Vultr is another.  Private key logins only to non-root, which only trusts one key.
  • The RN and Vultr VMs sit there, waiting for me to login from anywhere (again, keys only, different from the ones that login to home).  Then I decrypt the tarball of the keys (a cron job deletes keys every 5 minutes) and use them to login to the home landing zones, and once there, I can ssh to other systems.

It’s complicated but meets my needs and is as secure as I can make it.

Vultr: I use Vultr a lot, because I like to spin up VMs to try things.  They also make it easy to boot off ISO, have block storage, and have more OS templates and more locations than most competitors.  I also don’t like DigitalOcean because everyone I’ve ever known who worked there says it is pretty politically toxic.  Right now on Vultr I have a VPN and a beacon, but I’ve been running them a lot lately as I write the BSD series coming up later this month.

Snakecraft Hosting: Yeah, I’d never heard of them either!  But they have a datacenter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I was born.  When I visit GR, it’s nice to have a VPN there.  (Most recent offer). And yeah, I use @Nyr‘s legendary road warrior script (and Viscosity on my Mac).

Pulsed Media: Lords of the seedbox.  I love PM seedboxes.  When a good deal comes along, I grab one, though I don’t know if I’m going to grow that farm much more now that I have Hetzner.  Then again, they’re often cheap enough that you can have two identical boxes with identical torrents as a poor man’s redundancy.

InterServer: Their storage servers are cheap!  Great to stash stuff in the sky.

Silicom Network: Some time ago I bought a Silicom Network lifetime shared hosting offer (part 1, part 2).

Who’s Next?

I’m itching to try ColoCrossing’s Cloud Metal servers because you get dedicated cores.  Look for a writeup on them soon.

I still have credit over at BuyVM.  The number of fun providers outstrips my modest needs.

But I’m sure the next time I see a juicy offer, my stable will grow.

So who are you hosting with?  Let us know in the comments below!


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