Thanks, Digital Ocean

$5 per month for a VPS? What could possibly go wrong? Well lots actually. As the saying goes you get what you pay for, so when I decided to create my first droplet with Digital Ocean I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. Some users on HackerNews had rave reviews about them and me being frugal was always looking for a cheaper VPS host. So I created a droplet and copied this site over from AWS to them.

Things were working swell for a very a while, then my internet at home went on the fritz. While using a hotspot to make my last post I also decided to login to my droplet and do an apt update. And that’s when the problems arose.

See, I wanted to configure a proxy that I could use from any hotspot in Paris, since I don’t trust hotspots and I need the internet for banking and accounts (see DNS spoofing) I wanted a connection I could trust. So I installed some proxy onto my droplet. For $5 more I should have bought another. And then the connection died. No http, ssh, nor ping. I could no longer reach my droplet, my website was gone, and I was trying to fix this over a wireless hotspot that jumped APs every few minutes. No problem, I told myself I’ll log into the web console and fix it. The web console never worked on my Mac. So I did the same from a PC running Firefox and that just showed me a black screen.

Rebooting the server showed the server was stuck at init-bottom. This is the point in the boot sequence where grub should exit and the kernel is supposed to take over, and it wasn’t happening. Back at the droplet control panel I tried a few different kernels and stopped at the same point. I sent a ticket to Digital Ocean and the support team suggested I boot using the DO-Recovery kernel. That recovery kernel dropped me into a busybox shell but it didn’t have the tools I needed to access a borked LVM volume and it didn’t have network drivers. So not only could I not access the partition, but even if I did I wouldn’t be able to do a whole lot.

I opened another ticket to get a LiveCD boot (any distro). The support team came through again and got me into a Ubuntu LiveCD shell where I was able to open the volume with this site. Then I realized I had no network access and raised it with DO who straightened it out almost immediately.

With my volume mounted and reachable from the network I created another droplet with the same configuration as the broken server then using SCP I copied over my files, databases, and configurations to the new droplet. Some file permissions had to be edited but everything is right where I left it. And that is where we are today.

So I’d like to thank Digital Ocean and their invaluable support team for helping me get things back on track!

Fedora Core 8…A week later

The great thing about using Linux is it’s free and the rules are really basic. The bad thing about Linux is it’s free and getting support can be a bit of a nightmare. It’s been a week since I successfully installed Fedora Core 8. After using a variety of help guides I can say that it truly rocks. Whether or not I can use it productively is another question. You see I’m a .Net developer. which means I’m closely bound to the Windows side of doing things. On my ancient and underpowered laptop getting Windows to run on VMWare can be a virtual nightmare. While it’s great as a server the GUI is pretty sluggish. But since connectivity is the safe word I can get around that by RDPing into a real windows machine.
I am a pragmatic and polyglot so I did install the Java IDE and Netbeans. Now seems like the perfect time to learn Java programming and compare it to C#.