Europe, here we come!

Posted in General by

It took a lot of preparation but I’m happy to announce that we are now offering hosting in Europe (in Amsterdam to be exact). If your websites’ visitors are mostly in Europe then you might want to consider putting your sites on our European servers rather than our American servers.

When you sign up for an account you can now choose between USA or Europe for the server location (note that the Europe location is not available for our managed dedicated servers just yet).

If you’re an existing customer you can also go to Account->Upgrade/downgrade in the panel and order an extra plan in Europe if you want one.

Plans on our European servers are the same price as on our American servers.

As an indication of the overhead difference here is the output of ping from London, UK to one of our servers in Texas (first server) and another one in Amsterdam (second server):

$ ping web207.webfaction.com
[...]
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 153ms, Maximum = 189ms, Average = 163ms

$ ping web208.webfaction.com
[...]
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 34ms, Maximum = 52ms, Average = 43ms
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Trac and Git, two new best friends

Posted in Git by

Trac is one of the best tools out there to manage your projects. It integrates an issue-tracking system, a wiki, a code browser and the three of them easily link to each other. At WebFaction we use it for all of our projects and we love it.

Trac works hand in hand with the version control system that you use for your code. Until recently our one-click installer only supported Subversion as the version control system for Trac but we’ve just added support for Git.

Bellow is a 3-minute screencast showing how to setup a Trac app with a Git repository in a few clicks. We also have a section about Trac in our documentation and one about Git.

Enjoy!

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New PHP-5.3 app available

Posted in PHP by

We’ve just added a new app to our control panel called “Static/CGI/PHP-5.3”.

This means that you can now choose between PHP-5.2 and PHP-5.3 when you create a PHP app.

The PHP-5.3 command line tools are also installed on all servers:

[remi@web180 ~]$ php53 -v
PHP 5.3.5 (cli) (built: Mar 15 2011 06:04:49)
[...]

[remi@web180 ~]$ php -v
PHP 5.2.11 (cli) (built: Oct 18 2010 14:11:48)
[...]

Enjoy!

PS: Note that the PHP-5.3 app is only available on Web120 and over. This is because machines before that use mod_php to serve PHP apps and Apache can’t run mod_php-5.2 and mod_php-5.3 side by side. If you’re on a machine before that and want to run PHP-5.3 you can either build your own Apache/PHP-5.3 stack or ask for a plan on a newer server. Open a ticket and we’ll be happy to help.

Update May 12th: The PHP-5.3 app is now available on all servers.

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New control panel theme and domain management interface

Posted in General by

As you might have noticed we rolled out a new control panel theme today:

New panel theme

Apart from the style everything is the same as before except for a new domain management interface which is the same as the beta control panel we release in March:

New domain management interface

Over the next few months we will gradually replace sections of the control panel with easier and faster ways to do things (similar to the new domain management interface), as well as adding new features to do things that weren’t possible before.

We originally planned on building a separate control panel while keeping the old control panel available. But we realized that having just one panel means that we can keep making improvements faster because we don’t have to support two different ways of doing the same things.

While we have a lot of ideas for making the panel easier to use we’re also keen to hear from you about what you think would make the panel better so don’t hesitate to click on “Feedback” inside the panel to send us suggestions. We will reply to each suggestion and either implement it or explain to you why we prefer not to.

PS: Note that the panel is now available at https://my.webfaction.com but all old URLs under https://panel.webfaction.com still work and just get redirected to the new URLs.

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[Position filled] We’re hiring: Support engineer for the US day shift

Posted in General by

[March 4, 2011: This position has been filled.]

We’re currently looking for a support engineer for the US day shift. Read on if you’re interested in joining our team!

Job Location

Anywhere in the world. This is a telecommuting position. You need to be able to work from ~5PM GMT to ~3am GMT (US day shift), 5 days on, 3 days off.

Job Activities

You will be the be the first line of contact for our customers, primarily via our online support ticketing system but also on our blogs and forums. Your job will be to answer their questions, fix their problems and generally leave them with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

This is a real problem solving position. Sure, there are some questions which are asked repeatedly, but we’ve eliminated most of them and are working on the rest. That means that most of what’s left are one-offs which require real thought not just a standard response. We need someone who will enjoy attacking a problem and learning whatever technical skills they need to solve it.

You’ll also perform customer service duties such as setting up new accounts, canceling closed accounts, and responding to pre-sales inquiries.

You’ll be well-supported while you’re learning about our systems but this is a telecommuting position so you will need to be able to work under your own initiative, learn quickly and be the sort of person who asks for help when you need it.

Requirements

  • A friendly demeanor, excellent customer service skills and genuine desire to help solve customers’ problems.
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English
  • This position is telecommuting only. You must have your own place to work from including permanent and reliable Internet access.
  • Must be self-motivating.
  • Familiarity with Linux systems. You don’t need to be an expert but you need to know the basics and be willing to learn.
  • Flexibility with regards to your working hours. This position may include some work outside of normal business hours and at the weekend.

Bonus Extras (nice to have, but not required)

  • Experience with troubleshooting Linux systems including tools such as Apache, Postfix, Bind, etc.
  • Experience with database systems such as MySQL or PostgreSQL.
  • Experience with one or more web development frameworks or tools such as Django, Rails, Zope/Plone, WordPress, Drupal, etc. (This is not a development position, but we do support customers who develop with these tools.)

Salary

This is an hourly position. Your hourly wage is based on your location and experience.

How to Apply

Send an email to jobs@webfaction.com with the name of the job you’re applying for in the subject line. Attach a copy of your resume/CV in PDF, HTML, RTF or text format. In particular please don’t send Word documents. In the body of email tell us a bit about yourself and explain why we would be mad not to hire you.

(This info is also available on our jobs page.)

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WebFaction turns 7, new hosting plan available!

Posted in General by

I can’t believe it’s already been 7 years since we registered python-hosting.com which later became WebFaction.
We’ve come a long way since 7 years ago and we have lots of exciting announcements for the next few months.

Here is the first one:

From today we are replacing our four shared hosting plans with a unique hosting plan and a few add-ons.
The new plan is the same price as the former “Shared 1” plan but it comes with a massive 100GB of storage and extra memory is cheaper than before. See features & prices for the new plan details.

The new plan is only available on our latest servers (Web173 and over) which means that it’s available for all new customers and all existing customers willing to move their data to one of these new servers. We would love to make the new plan available on all of our servers but unfortunately servers before Web173 don’t have enough disk space to be able to cope.

Here is to a good start to 2011!

Update: We didn’t anticipate such demand from existing customers for the new plan and at this rate we’ll run out of servers soon. To prevent that existing customers will only be able to get the new plan this time next week (by then we’ll have provisioned enough servers).

Update: The new plan is now available to existing customers.

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Sendmail now enabled on all servers

Posted in Email by

Before today the sendmail command-line tool was disabled on our servers so all apps and scripts had to connect to our SMTP servers to send an email.
As of today sendmail is enabled on all servers which means that any app or script that uses sendmail to send emails will just work without any modification:

[testweb100@web100 ~]$ sendmail support@webfaction.com
Subject: Help me

Just testing sendmail<ctrl-D>
[testweb100@web100 ~]$
<email was sent>

This also means that the native PHP function mail() now works without any extra code:

[testweb100@web100 ~]$ cat testsendmail.php
<?php
$message = "Just testing sendmailn";
mail('support@webfaction.com', 'Help me', $message);
?>
[testweb100@web100 ~]$ php testsendmail.php
[testweb100@web100 ~]$
<email was sent>

Another place where it can be useful is if you want to receive error emails about failing cronjobs: just add “MAILTO=youremailaddress@yourdomain.com” at the top of your crontab and you’ll start receiving error notifications.

Under the hood the sendmail binary is actually a patched version of msmtp (a sendmail-compatible mail tool) which connects to our SMTP servers to send the email.

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New Python-2.7 and Python-3.1 versions

Posted in Python by

Python-2.7.1 and Python-3.1.3 were released on Saturday and we’ve now rolled them out to all servers.

Also, in case you missed the announcement WordPress-3.0.2 was released on Tuesday and it contains some security fixes so everybody with a WordPress site should run the auto-upgrade asap.

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New twitter account for status updates

Posted in General by

We now have a new twitter account for status updates: http://twitter.com/wfstatus
This will be a mirror of our status blog at http://statusblog.webfaction.com

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A look at our Python setup

Posted in Python by

You may not know this but WebFaction started as a specialized Python hosting provider (it was even called python-hosting.com) so as you might expect we have pretty good support for Python. Let’s SSH into one of our servers and take a look:

[remi@web150 ~]$ python
Python 2.4.3 (#1, Nov 11 2010, 13:34:43)
[GCC 4.1.2 20080704 (Red Hat 4.1.2-48)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>>

“What?” you say. “Only Python 2.4! My grandmother is younger than that!” (or alternatively, “Wow, this is awesome, my current host only has Python 2.2”)
Don’t worry, that’s just the default Python on Centos5. Let’s try something else:

[remi@web150 ~]$ python<hit tab>
python            python2.5-config  python2.7-config  python3.1-config
python2           python2.6         python3.0
python2.4         python2.6-config  python3.0-config
python2.5         python2.7         python3.1
[remi@web150 ~]$

That’s better… We actually have all versions from Python 2.4 to 3.1 and you can bet that we’ll add new versions as soon as they come out.
That’s just the beginning. Python comes with “batteries included” but most people need some extra modules that don’t come with Python. Let’s see what we’ve got:

[remi@web150 ~]$ rpm -qa | egrep 
                   "^python-2|python24|python25|python26|python27"

python-2.4.3-27.el5_5.3
python24-MySQLdb-1.2.2-3.el5.webfaction
python24-NumPy-1.2.1-3.el5.webfaction
python24-PIL-1.1.6-3.el5.webfaction
python24-PyCrypto-2.0.1-4.el5.webfaction
python24-ReportLab-2.3-3.el5.webfaction
python24-docutils-0.5-4.el5.webfaction
python24-fail2ban-0.8.3-3.el5.webfaction
python24-mx-Base-3.1.2-3.el5.webfaction
python24-psycopg2-2.0.9-4.el5.webfaction
python24-sqlite3-2.6.0-2.el5.webfaction

python25-2.5.4-8.el5.webfaction
python25-MySQLdb-1.2.2-3.el5.webfaction
python25-NumPy-1.2.1-3.el5.webfaction
python25-PIL-1.1.6-3.el5.webfaction
python25-PyCrypto-2.0.1-4.el5.webfaction
python25-ReportLab-2.3-3.el5.webfaction
python25-docutils-0.5-4.el5.webfaction
python25-mx-Base-3.1.2-3.el5.webfaction
python25-psycopg2-2.0.9-5.el5.webfaction
python25-setuptools-0.6c9-8.el5.webfaction

python26-2.6.5-2.el5.webfaction
python26-MySQLdb-1.2.2-3.el5.webfaction
python26-NumPy-1.2.1-3.el5.webfaction
python26-PIL-1.1.6-3.el5.webfaction
python26-PyCrypto-2.0.1-3.el5.webfaction
python26-ReportLab-2.3-3.el5.webfaction
python26-docutils-0.5-4.el5.webfaction
python26-mx-Base-3.1.2-3.el5.webfaction
python26-psycopg2-2.0.9-5.el5.webfaction
python26-setuptools-0.6c9-8.el5.webfaction

python27-2.7-0.el5.webfaction
python27-MySQLdb-1.2.3-1.el5.webfaction
python27-NumPy-1.5-0.el5.webfaction
python27-PIL-1.1-7.el5.webfaction
python27-PyCrypto-2.3-0.el5.webfaction
python27-ReportLab-2.4-0.el5.webfaction
python27-docutils-0.7-0.el5.webfaction
python27-mx-Base-3.1.3-0.el5.webfaction
python27-psycopg2-2.0.9-2.el5.webfaction
python27-setuptools-0.6c11-1.el5.webfaction

[remi@web150 ~]$

That’s a pretty decent set of modules for each Python version. The “.el5.webfaction” at the end of the RPM name is our naming scheme for software we build and maintain ourselves because it’s not provided by Centos5.
But that’s not all: if you need a module which is not pre-installed we give you all the tools to install it yourself in your home directory and it’s all nicely documented at http://docs.webfaction.com/software/python.html#installing-python-packages. You can install them with pip, setup.py or easy_install. For example:

[remi@web150 ~]$ mkdir -p ~/lib/python2.5
[remi@web150 ~]$ easy_install-2.5 matplotlib
Searching for matplotlib
Reading http://pypi.python.org/simple/matplotlib/
Reading http://matplotlib.sourceforge.net
Reading http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=80706&package_id=82474
Reading https://sourceforge.net/projects/matplotlib/files/matplotlib/matplotlib-1.0
Reading https://sourceforge.net/projects/matplotlib/files/matplotlib/matplotlib-0.99.3/
Reading http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=80706
Reading https://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=80706&package_id=278194
Reading https://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=80706&package_id=82474
Reading https://sourceforge.net/projects/matplotlib/files/matplotlib/matplotlib-0.99.1/
Best match: matplotlib 0.91.1
<lots of compilation messages>
[remi@web150 ~]$ python2.5
Python 2.5.4 (r254:67916, Aug  5 2009, 12:42:40)
[GCC 4.1.2 20080704 (Red Hat 4.1.2-44)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import matplotlib
>>>

Pretty cool huh?

I hope you now have a good idea of what our Python setup includes. In future blog posts we’ll look at other components of our setup.

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