Your WebFaction account: servers

Posted in General by

This post is the first in a new series for potential and current WebFaction customers to learn more about what’s included in WebFaction plans and accounts. For new and potential customers, we’re going to go in-depth on what WebFaction delivers. For customers who’ve been with us for a while, we hope to remind you of your plan and account features, so you can continue to get the most out of your account.

At the core of every WebFaction plan is use of one of our shared or dedicated servers, depending on your subscription. Regardless of the specific plan, each comes with an allocation of disk space, an allocation of memory, and SSH access.

Disk space and memory are critical to web hosting. Your disk space allotment, measured in gigabytes, is the amount of files you can store on a WebFaction server. Currently, our plans start with disk space allotments of 100 GB. As a point comparison, 100 GB is which is about as much data found on two to four Blu-ray discs. Your memory allotment, measured in megabytes, is the amount of the server’s working memory (also known as RAM) that you can use. Currently, a WebFaction plan starts with 512 MB of memory, which is sufficient for a wide variety of processes, including web applications and utilities.

Note that, on a shared server, your memory and disk space aren’t dedicated pieces of hardware for your use alone. To keep costs and prices low, your files are stored on disk drives split up between users, just as your processes use physical memory modules split between users. This kind of sharing is done in controlled way, so that individual users may not exceed their allotments of memory or disk space to the detriment of their server neighbors. This kind of sharing also comes with a major benefit: common processes, like nginx for static-only sites and shared MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, are shared across the server’s users, so they don’t count against your individual consumption of your memory allocations. Compare that to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), where each individual user must pay for the memory and disk space required to run a full operating system.

To access your server, your plan comes with a user account that’s accessed with SSH, or Secure Shell. SSH is an encrypted and authenticated way for you to connect to your server. You can use it control your files and processes and, thus, your disk space and memory consumption. With SSH, you can run software using a command-line interface called a shell (most people use the default shell, Bash). You can manage files using command line utilities, or connect with your favorite SFTP client. SFTP is a secure alternative to FTP, and uses SSH to communicate between client and server. Many hosts do not allow SSH connections (or even SFTP), but we offer it because it’s more secure and flexible.

To learn more about what you can do with your WebFaction account, check out our documentation site or join us in the Q&A Community.

Next in the “Your WebFaction account” series: Email

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Busy October and a $50 credit for all new services ordered

Posted in Django by

As you may have noticed October has been a busy month for WebFaction:

To finish the month in style we are giving a $50 credit for all new services ordered before October 31st at midnight UTC:

New customers: just sign up between now and October 31st, pay $9.50 for the first month (or pay for longer) and enter the promo code “BUSYOCTOBER”. $50 will automatically be credited to your account.

Existing customers: add one new service to your account (or upgrade an existing service) between now and October 31st, pay for one month of that service and mention the promo code “BUSYOCTOBER”. A $50 credit will be automatically added to your account. You need to keep the new service for at least 6 months to keep the credit.

Each customer is limited to one credit only, and it is non-transferable and non-refundable.

Here is to a great October and many more great months to come!

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New one-click installers: Node.js and Ghost

Posted in Ghost by

Today we’re unveiling two new one-click installers: Node.js and Ghost. Both of these applications have been requested often, and we’re happy to be able to bring them to you.

Node.js

Node.js is a platform for running JavaScript applications, especially on the server. Node (as it’s commonly referred to) uses the V8 JavaScript engine from Google Chrome, so you can use the familiar browser language that you know and might love in a whole new environment.

Node has a substantial API, including an HTTP server, so a simple application looks something like this:

var http = require("http");

http.createServer(function(request, response) {
  response.writeHead(200, {"Content-Type": "text/plain"});
  response.write("Hello World");
  response.end();
}).listen(13478);

In fact, you’ll find a hello-world.js script just like this in the Node.js application directory, after you install it with the control panel. You can check out:

~/webapps/node_app_name/bin/start
and
~/webapps/node_app_name/bin/stop

to see how the application runs (or modify them to run your own Node creation).

Node also comes with a package manager called npm, and so does the Node one-click installer. The package manager makes it quick and easy to install Node modules and their dependencies. Your Node application’s copy of npm is available in the application’s bin directory, and it can be used like this:

[demo@web310 ~]$ cd webapps/node_demo/
[demo@web310 node_demo] $ ./bin/npm install underscore
npm http GET https://registry.npmjs.org/underscore
npm http 200 https://registry.npmjs.org/underscore
npm http GET https://registry.npmjs.org/underscore/-/underscore-1.5.2.tgz
npm http 200 https://registry.npmjs.org/underscore/-/underscore-1.5.2.tgz
underscore@1.5.2 node_modules/underscore

Then you can require installed modules just as you’d expect:

[demo@web310 node_demo] $ ./bin/node
> var underscore = require('underscore')._;
undefined
> underscore.map([1, 2, 3], function(num){ return num * 3; });
[ 3, 6, 9 ]

To learn more about Node.js, check out Node.js’s official documentation.

Ghost

Ghost Screenshot

In addition to the Node.js one-click installer, we’ve also added an installer for Ghost, a new, open source blogging application. Ghost is described as “just a blogging platform,” as opposed to more complicated content management systems, like WordPress or Drupal. There’s been a lot of excitement about Ghost, especially because over 5,000 people backed the project on Kickstarter earlier this year.

Because Ghost runs on Node.js, everything you’ve just learned about the Node.js one-click installer also applies to the Ghost installer. To get started with Ghost, add a Ghost application to a website, and then open http://example.com/ghost/signup/ (where example.com is your site’s domain) in your web browser. Ghost comes with a handy example post to teach you some of the basics.

To learn more about Ghost, check out the Ghost Guide, but keep in mind that Ghost is experimental software (its first public release was last week), so you may find yourself breaking new ground.

Whether you’re interested in Node.js or Ghost, give one of the new installers a try. If you have questions or run into problems, then join us in the Q&A Community.

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New one-click installer: Django and Python 3

Posted in Django by

Today we’re introducing a new installer and we think this one is pretty special. You can now install Django 1.5 running on Python 3.3. The team at WebFaction is excited to be an early Python 3 adopter by becoming one of the first hosts to support Django on Python 3.

If you’re a Python user, you know that the transition from Python 2 to Python 3 hasn’t happened overnight. In fact, the first Python 3 release happened almost five years ago. The pace of transition has been influenced by a kind of chicken or the egg problem: Python users have been reluctant to upgrade because few libraries supported Python 3, but library maintainers (and web hosts) have been reluctant to upgrade because of few Python 3 users. But that’s starting to change with Python 3 support appearing in popular libraries such as Requestsnose, and now Django.

With Django on Python 3.3, you get all the new benefits of Python 3 which were not backported to Python 3 (check out the “What’s New” documentation for Python 3.03.13.2, and 3.3 for complete details). For example, if you’ve ever needed to do something like this with a generator in Python 2 code:

for elem in some_iterable:
    yield elem

You can now simplify that code using Python 3.3’s yield from syntax:

yield from some_iterable

Before you dash headlong into upgrading your Django sites, please exercise some caution. The Django project considers Python 3 support to be experimental, so the current Django release comes with a few limitations. Notably, MySQL with Python 3 is unsupported. Additionally, while many libraries have added Python 3 support, support for the new language version is far from universal, so be sure to investigate your dependencies (including pluggable Django applications) before upgrading.

If you’re ready to give Django on Python 3 a whirl, give the installer a try with the WebFaction control panel. And if you run into problems with the new installer, join us in the Q&A Community.

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Memory doubled!

Posted in General by

We’re excited to announce that we have doubled the memory on our base plan without changing the price: the memory quota is now 512MB instead of 256MB and the price is still $9.50/mo (or $8.50/mo if you pre-pay for one year). All existing accounts have been upgraded to the new quota.

The memory used by the operating system, web server and database servers still doesn’t count towards your memory usage.

Customers on Web418 and over can also purchase an extra 512MB of memory (for a total of 1GB) for $7/mo. Unfortunately customers on Web417 and under are still limited to 512MB of memory per account per server as these machines don’t have enough RAM to accommodate more than that. If you’re on Web417 and under and want more than 512MB of memory you can request a migration in the control panel under “Account->Server migration”.

We have also doubled the memory on our larger plans and you can now get a 2GB plan, 4GB plan or 8GB plan for $40/mo, $80/mo and $160/mo respectively (discounts apply for yearly pre-payments). See the “Account->Upgrade / downgrade” screen in the control panel for details.

Enjoy the extra memory!

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