Getting my linode on

As I wrote in a blog entry a few weeks ago, I added up all the money I spend on Gradwell web hosting and domain registration, and realized that because of the exchange rate, I hadn’t realized I was up over $400 a year.

I decided that I could do everything I’ve been doing on my Gradwell account with a $20 a month Linode virtual Linux host, and 5 domain registrations at GoDaddy, and a couple of free dns entries at ZoneEdit, for a total yearly cost of about $285.

The rest is even more boring than what’s come before, so I’m putting in a cut line.

So far I’ve done the following on my linode:

  • Installed Debian on it. I don’t know Debian that well, but it was a much smaller installation than any of the other distros they support.
  • Upgraded Debian from “stable” to “testing”.
  • Installed Postfix.
  • Got Postfix virtual domains set up. I’ve never done that before, but it allows me to set up mail forwarding for and
  • Set up my home machine to relay all outgoing email through the linode, which means that I never have to worry about sites blocking my mail as coming from a static IP.
  • Installed Apache2.
  • Configured virtual domains in Apache. I’ve never done that before, either, but it was pretty easy.
  • Transfered the content from Gradwell to Linode, and set up a virtual domain for
  • Transferred the domain registration for from Gradwell’s OpenSRS to GoDaddy. Made the mistake of telling GoDaddy to use their own DNS servers, which meant that there was actually a gap when visitors to’s web site would have seen the GoDaddy “under construction” page. Good thing I used a domain that isn’t being used for anything first.
  • Transfer the content for and to the linode and set up virtual domains for them. Test both by setting entries in /private/etc/hosts on my laptop.
  • Point the A and MX records for both of them to the linode on the Gradwell DNS server.
  • Set up DNS entries for both sites on with the A and MX records pointing to the linode, and change the DNS entries in the domain registration to point to the ZoneEdit DNS servers.
  • Transfer the domains to GoDaddy, still using the ZoneEdit DNS entries. This is still in progress, but the idea is that there should be no gap where people seeing the old domain record on OpenSRS will have a different result that people seeing the new domain record on GoDaddy.
  • Once the domains are successfully transferred, I’ll give it a day to propogate, and then delete them from my Gradwell account.
  • I set up Mailman on the linode, and moved the lists that I’d already moved to Gradwell’s “beta” Mailman to there. One of Gradwell’s system administrator’s send me the “pickle” files, and so it was a simple matter of running “withlist -l -f fix_urls listname” on each list. I’d originally configured this site to use the “” script that came packaged with the mailman .deb file, but my first test message took 271 seconds to go out to everybody. I’m used to much better performance with mailman and postfix, so I configured it back the same way as I have my one at home. I sent another test message and it went out in 0.206 seconds, which is more like it.

Still to come:

  • Once the domain transfer to GoDaddy for and is complete, delete the accounts for them at Gradwell.
  • Set up a DNS entry for on ZoneEdit, with dynamic ip.
  • Set the name server entries for to the ZoneEdit name servers.
  • Transfer the domain registration for to GoDaddy.
  • Port the navaid application to postgres on the linode.
  • Transfer the address, DNS and domain registrar away from Gradwell.

One thought on “Getting my linode on”

  1. You may want to change ‘testing’ to ‘sarge’ in your apt sources on the debian box (/etc/apt/source.list) – sarge (the current ‘testing’ release) is frozen for release, and once this happens the next version of ‘testing’ will almost certainly break many, many things…

    $285 still sounds steep, but I’m sure you’ve looked into it over the past weeks more than I have! Just surprised…

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