We have been working on a project for a client whose identity is irrelevant to this post. This client has a pre-existing Dreamhost “VPS” plan to which we needed SSH access for some of the work that needed to be done. We were not familiar with Dreamhost (we are now) and, after some minor poking around, something seemed not quite as expected.
The suspicion began with the fact that subdomains have to be added using Dreamhost’s custom admin panel. A VPS should allow one complete control over server configuration, of course; instead, Apache’s httpd.conf would be rebuilt upon any change via the administration panel, overwriting custom changes. Giving the benefit of the doubt and supposing that perhaps this was a tool meant to be more user-friendly, we investigated more.
The second hint (tried on a hunch) was:
$ sudo cd /
[sudo] password for anastasllc_root:
sudo: cd: command not found
This points to chrooted access and not being on a true VPS. Next:
$ df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hdv1 3.6T 808G 2.8T 23% /
Aside from the fact that we hadn’t used anywhere near 808G of disk space, 3.6T disk space on a cheaper VPS plan? More pertinently, /dev/hdv1 points to use of Linux VServer.
A virtual server is one that is, well, virtual. “Virtual” means that the entire server environment is emulated (in the same way that scifi “virtual reality” is meant to mimic reality entirely), via a hypervisor or otherwise, giving each customer what looks like an entire server whose entire filesystem and operating system can be entirely controlled. This “VPS” package is perhaps a “simulated private server”, but definitely not a “virtual private server”.
While we will work within the restrictions of Dreamhost’s “VPS” package for this client’s project, we recommend against opting for Dreamhost if a VPS is desired. If you want what is essentially shared hosting, get shared hosting. If you want complete control over your server, opt for a true VPS, such as via Linode or AWS, both of which we use and recommend wholeheartedly.
Update: We should have looked at the actual “VPS” hosting plans offered by Dreamhost in the first place. Anything “unlimited” is always a red flag, and $15/month for 300mb RAM is ridiculous (for example, Linode’s current $20/month VPS hosting offers 1GB RAM, which Dreamhost charges $50/month for, 150% more). Opt for Linode, AWS, or similar instead to get more for your money.