DigitalOcean is fun, but is it worth it?

It’s fun! No doubt about that. If you are a web developer or a cloud enthusiast like me, you will love DigitalOcean. I found it to be a true personification of creating cloud infrastructure that scales as you grow. Unlike the wild pricing jungles of Azure and AWS, DO has a pretty neat price sheet. Creating and deleting VMs is stupendously easy. They have done a great job with their community documentation, which has now evolved into a gold standard for everything servers.  And it’s reasonably cheap! Is there anything to NOT like with DO? Let’s see.

I have moved my blog (this website) from Arvixe (cheap shared hosting, batshit customer support) over to DO (fully managed VMs, apparently great customer support), including my domain. Through Let’s Encrypt, I now even have my very own SSL certificate (see that green https thing in browser’s address bar?). I have hardened my LAMP installation to my liking.

I had opted for the cheapest plan ($5/mo), where my VM’s performance is comparable to what we get in shared hosting. Frankly, $5/mo is not a big amount to pay in exchange for full control of the server and a great technical support.

With the help of their one-click apps, I am very much looking forward to deploying Ruby on Rails and Node.js applications some time in the future.

P.S. If you sign up at DigitalOcean using my referral link, you will get $10 to start with. Wish I knew about it while I was signing up 🙁

An updated system

opensuse 13.2 Plasma 5.5
My current desktop: opensuse 13.2 Plasma 5.5

I have been away from developments in the larger Linux world since quite some time. I’m not a distrohopper any more. I’ve kinda settled down on my (childhood) favorite openSUSE. I’d installed version 13.1 about two years ago on my brand new laptop. A few days ago I decided to update my KDE 4 to Plasma 5. To be honest, the KDE Frameworks 5 fad hadn’t really caught my attention until only a week ago when I stumbled across KDE’s latest release announcement. I was bowled over by the screenshots! The looks, the elegance, the finesse… everything was perfect. So I instantly took the decision.

Sadly, there’s no officially supported way to install Plasma 5 in openSUSE 13.1. I tried, but ended up screwing my installation. So I did a full distro upgrade zypper dup. 2GB of package updates and a few hours later, I was on a 100% working openSUSE 13.2. Nothing broke during the upgrade and all my settings were preserved. Plasma 5 turned out to be as good as it had seemed in the screenshots.

I’ve been living happily ever after. True story.

P.S.: A bit off-topic: After months of inactivity, my Raspberry Pi is back on its legs after I finally fixed its SD card issue (caution: please seriously consider safely switching off your Pi every time). Now I’m working on a top secret IoT project using my Pi. Shhh…

Moved to a new webhost

Here I am. With Arvixe. After 8 years with DreamHost, I made the move to save money. Shit loads of money. Hosting with DreamHost was a smooth and wonderful but expensive journey. Their support and technical expertise are unmatched, things that came in pretty handy while hosting a Linux distro (Granular, remember?).

In its heydays, Granular was a darling of experimental distro hoppers. I hope it was a worthwhile, pleasant experience for all its users. Coming January it will be 7 years since Granular’s last release. Plans for Granular 2 could not materialize for various reasons, chief among those being the decline of PC. People are going mobile. It’s not unusual for someone’s first device being a tablet or a smartphone. That translates to a huge decline in Linux userbase in an already highly saturated distro market. So I took the hard decision I to finally pull the plug on Granular, my dearest creation.

Anyway, coming back to topic. Arvixe has the most competitive prices of all quality US-based hosts. They even offer 1 domain free-for-life with all their plans. Sweet. It’s been only 5 days since the switch, but so far so good.

Something that DreamHost offers for $120/yr is available at Arvixe for just $48/yr (and they accept discount coupons :)). So paying that sort of money to DreamHost for hosting just one website (this one) didn’t make sense anymore.

MonoDevelop 4: CSS files not loading for an ASP.NET MVC4 site

MonoDevelop 4
MonoDevelop 4

If you are like me — always living in Linux, but sometimes being required to develop ASP.NET sites — you have no doubt used MonoDevelop. While its latest iteration brings in many good things, it’s still not the ready-to-use Visual Studio.

Once you are past the System.UnauthorizedAccessException and Could not load file or assembly ‘System.Web.WebPages’ errors, you might encounter another weirdo in an imported MVC4 site, an error that prevents loading of default stylesheet(s) in browser. As a result, your site may look completely deprived of any styles, colors, images, etc.

The origin of this error lies in the simple fact that while Windows (possibly the source of your imported MVC site) is case-insensitive with file names, Linux isn’t. Correcting this is as simple as:

  1. opening the file App_Start > BundleConfig.cs, and
  2. changing
  3. bundles.Add(new StyleBundle("~/Content/css").Include("~/Content/site.css"));

    to

    bundles.Add(new StyleBundle("~/Content/css").Include("~/Content/Site.css"));

  4. that is: site.css to Site.css

Merry coding!

The Exciting New Puppy

LXPUP -- Puppy with LXDE
LXPUP — Puppy with LXDE

A couple of days back, I got myself a new puppy. Nope, not the dog sort. It’s a variant of Puppy Linux, and comes with LXDE. The most wonderful aspect of Lxpup is that it is a perfect fusion of an ultra-lightweight feel (of Puppy) and a more usable (and beautiful looking) desktop environment (LXDE). Really, Puppy works so amazingly out-of-the-box and is so incredibly damn fast that it is pretty hard to resist. Add to it its binary compatibility with Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise), and that makes it nothing short of legendary. In short, that gives users the ability to download apps from one of the biggest package repositories on planet.

Puppy’s default window manager, JWM, is kinda annoying to say the least. LXDE is a decent mix of usability and small size, and blends so well with Puppy. In fact, Lxpup’s default customization of LXDE is pretty enough to make you want to keep using it for long.

I’m currently loving my Puppy experience. It runs completely off my USB pendrive. And needless to say, I’m making this post from within Puppy. 🙂