VPS for Concrete5 How To

Posted by admin on December 10, 2010

  1. What does Concrete5 need to run?
  2. What hosting company did I end up using?
  3. Installing software!!!  it's not point and click, but close!
  4. Final thoughts - how's the speed?

What does Concrete5 need to run?

  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • PHP ***
  • GD (2)
  • Curl

Note - I'm sure there is a more exhaustive list, and I'll do my best to update this to be more accurate, but you should see the basic requirements when doing the first install.

*** PHP - This was the most difficult to really figure out what version was necessary.  I started with a CentOS system, which is based on Redhat, and as such sticks to the same version of PHP throughout its version... this is tough because the latest CentOS 5.5 is using PHP 5.1.  You wouldn't think that is an issue, as the installer simply gives you a warning about timezones, but I found that you also couldn't connect to the Concrete5 marketplace nor the community with PHP 5.1.  My next install used PHP 5.3 on Ubuntu 10.04 Lenny.  Unfortunately, it seemed to give me some odd errors that I didn't feel like tracing down.  After reading through some forum posts, it came to realize people seemed to be using successfully PHP 5.2.  My previous 2 hosts that worked fairly well with Concrete5 were also on 5.2.

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What hosting company did I end up using?

I started hosting a few years ago with Dreamhost, and it worked quite well for the sites I was building.  I had built a few Drupal sites, but never really taxed the system.  As I grew in my profession, I wanted to offer hosting to my clients.  I moved to a managed VPS through subhosting.net.  They were very good the first day or so, my sites seemed to run just as quickly as on Dreamhost.  I didn't like that the data center was 3000 miles from me and my clients, but the speed didn't seem to make a difference.

After a few days, I started to notice severe slowdowns, and total inability to access my site and even the control panel!  It would be the start of a month of back and forth with no resolution.  My client's weren't thrilled that their site would be inaccessible during their peek hours of business. (Note - this wasn't an eCommerce site, and the budget didn't really allow for any kind of incredibly robust solution.)  I was about 10 seconds away from just hosting with Concrete5, who is an excellent host.  

I happened to see an ad for a company called ChunkHost.com who had/has a beta program for their VPS's.  I figured it couldn't hurt to signup and at least see how that could work.

Signup was a breeze, until I tried to access the server.  Turns out it's just a basic linux install, with no PHP MySQL etc.  I was pretty lost, it had been about 3 years since I've even played with linux command line.  I vented for a few minutes to a coworker who suggested I use CentOS and setup the LAMP with Yum.  I'd like to say the rest is history, but there were a few twists and turns.

VPS #1 - Subhosting.net - a good start, but not reliable.

VPS #2 - ChunkHost.com - Incredibly fast servers.  I learned a lot, but was hoping for a little more resources for a little less money once I got out of the beta stage.  It was really good to learn on a properly installed Linux Distro that was free!  I highly recommend it.

VPS #3 - Burst.net - I read on a few forums it was the best for the money.  It cost 5.95 / month for a 512MB 20 GB VPS.  I put this server to the test.  I ended up upgrading to the 9.95 / month plan with 1 GB ram, and it allowed me to really experiment with a lot of different setups.  I ended up using this the most.

VPS #4 - BuyVM.net - After pouring through forum posts, this came to me as a clear winner for a West Coast data center VPS.  I was used to Dreamhost being hosted about 40 miles from me, ping times were ridiculously low.  BuyVM.com's servers are hosted in Fremont, CA, just a few hundred miles from me, and right next to San Jose etc.  Their prices are amazing, $12.95 / month for a 1GB RAM, 60GB HDD VPS with RAM burstable to 2GB.  

VPS #5 - HostGator.com - OK, so I didn't use it as my host, but I did set this up for a client... and man - it's FAST!  They did a great job of setting up their OS / CPanel etc.  almost consistently 0 load, and it gets TRAFFIC!  Well - here's my affilliate link - if you are so inclined to try it out! http://secure.hostgator.com/~affiliat/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=ThePhilM or use coupon code ThePhilM994 for a $9.94 discount on the first month.

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Installing software!!!  it's not point and click, but close!

I Heart Yum and Apt-Get.

Seriously, either one of these and you can be up and running in minutes.  I decided that since I would host myself, and I'm not a proficient server admin, I'd need some help in the form of administration software.  I looked through a number of open source utilities, and after a recommendation from my work's SysAdmin, I decided on Webmin/Virtualmin.  It was as simple as WGET'ing the install file, and running it.  It downloaded / installed all of the required files to run a server.  There were just a few extras I needed for Concrete5.  I needed PHP5-GD, PHP5-mcrypt (I actually needed that for phpmyadmin), 

I recently had to install a newer version (or additional modules) for CURL.  Simply did an apt-get for it.

I also added "The Rootkit Hunter" (http://rkhunter.sourceforge.net/) Make sure I don't have any rootkits/worms/trojans etc.

Final thoughts - how's the speed?

The server is noticably responsive.  I've checked it from many places, and the system running Concrete5, Drupal, or Zen Cart is quick.  My load is usually about .01 - .10... I feel really good about having setup my own server and knowing everything that is installed.  

My next step is to really lockdown the iptables.

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