Assignment Statements, Comparisons & Observations
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

I am not going to get into another general shared-hosting review. Infact this is something in between shared-hosting and a VPS.

I signed up for 2 webfaction accounts - I was primarily looking for a VPS switch, for which I already decided on SliceHost.
But there are 2 challenges to SliceHost - one, it costs $20/month for 10GB/100GB space/bandwidth which is still pretty expensive for Indian standards.
Two, since its unmanged, a fair amount of linux sys admin skills is required to keep it up and running without downtimes.

WebFaction is mainly known for its Python hosting (previously, but the best part is that you can run it like a VPS. The base install managed by the hosting company itself and the custom installs mananged by the customers themselves. For example, you can install another version of MySQL in your HOME directory and run it at a custom port (each user account gets a predefined range of ports for use in custom setups). And yes, you can install anything else not natively available in WebFaction. This is awesome, since you don't get the overhead of managing the entire server - instead you just manage what you install.

The other interesting fact about WebFaction is setting ACLs without the need of root.
Normally we would want a couple of directories (like user photos) writable by the web-server so that the web-interface can save to that directory.
In most shared-hosts, the only solution would be setting 0777 or 0755 permissions on a directory.

On my Ubuntu PC, I would do : (www-data is apache2)

sudo chgrp -R www-data <directory>
chmod -R g+w <directory>
In WebFaction they have a command-line script that does this for users.
setfacl -R -m u:apache:rwx <directory>
setfacl -R -m default:u:$USER:rwx <directory>

Con - no sendmail path defined - hence PHP's native mail() will not work. This was done inorder to avoid mail abuse. The general method of substitution in PHP would be to use a mail library like SwiftMailer to use SMTP to send out the mails.


Anonymous Economist said...

I am a happy Webfaction user myself.

One bit of trivia: setfacl is a standard Linux utility (though often not installed by default) and on any Linux system the file owner has the right to set ACLs as long as the filesystem supports them.

Debjit said...


Can you tell me whether I can pay for Webfaction using my Debit Card? I don't see any options.