After struggling with Guestbook spam on benandmaggiegetmarried.com, I realized how slow Dreamhost had become; after moving to a Dedicated-Virtual account at MediaTemple on Monday, I ultimately migrated my sites to a Linode virtual machine running Arch Linux & lighttpd.

Guestbook rescued by Mollom

It seems that the guestbook at benandmaggiegetmarried.com got put on a spammers queue somewhere, and I was having to manually delete guestbook entries.

Logically, I then researched CAPTCHA modules for Drupal. I found that Mollom, when combined with the Drupal Mollom module, is my best choice. But it doesn’t work (out of the box) with the Guestbook module, so I had to enable Comments on a new node, and mirror the existing guestbook entries as comments.

Goodbye, Dreamhost

While I was working on this, I noticed how painfully slow Dreamhost had become. I signed up in July 2005 as part of a promotion where I only paid $7 for 12 months of service. Before then, I was self-hosting out of my apartment with the limited upstream of a cable modem, so it was definitely an upgrade. I threw Wordpress on there and didn’t really think twice about renewing the next year.

A friend pointed me to MediaTemple and suggested I get the Dedicated-Virtual account. After a Retailmenot.com coupon code, I would be paying $40/month for a 512MB/20GB/1TB virtual server. I didn’t like the cost, but I couldn’t stand Dreamhost any longer.

MediaTemple was ridiculously fast (especially compared to Dreamhost!) and relatively simple to set up. I didn’t like CentOS much (never used it before, and I don’t like RedHat-based distros) and I really didn’t like how heavily MediaTemple relied on Plesk & other web-based admin functions. It wasn’t what I really wanted, which was full control over distro & services, but it was a big upgrade from Dreamhost.

Then another friend pointed me to Linode, which offered a similar service, but with the ability to start with an empty disk image, my choice of distro, and a “you’re on your own” approach to customers’ virtual machines. Oh, and it was only $20/month for 340MB/20GB/200GB — half the price of MediaTemple, but not half the capacity.

So, after starting the week as a tolerant Dreamhost user, I migrated my domains to MediaTemple, and then again to Linode. Now that I’ve settled on Linode, I can breathe a little easier. Things are still ridiculously, ludicrously fast compared to Dreamhost (and fast in general).

Arch Linux & Lighttpd

I’m working with Arch Linux for the first time on my new Linode server. Arch is similar to Gentoo in its KISS philosophy, but without the endless compiling. I’m still a huge Gentoo supporter, and I continue to believe in the idea of optimizing for hardware & use, but there’s something to be said for Arch’s binary simplicity. And we can all agree that it isn’t bloated like some other distros.

I’m also running Lighttpd instead of Apache on my new server. Until recently, although I liked Lighttpd and had used it on my DVR for MythWeb, it lacked the mod_rewrite features necessary for a hack-free install of Drupal. Well, as it turns out, the necessary rewrite-if-not-file has just been added to one of the more recent Lighttpd releases. My impression is that Lighttpd is much, much, much faster than Apache at serving Drupal.