Category Archives: hosting

Splunk helps make logs transparent, but pricing murky

I’ve been trying out the demo version of Splunk to aggregate and analyze all the log files messages generated on the servers we used to host the debut of It seems pretty sweet.

I’m not sure how it works, but it correctly breaks up multi-line log messages from Ruby on Rails. It also makes it pretty easy to pluck specific fields out of arbitrary log files. You pick a type of log, it shows you a couple dozen example entries. You pick some example values from the field you want to isolate and splunk creates a regular expression to match it. If the match is imperfect, you can add other example values, otherwise, you can save the field.

There are still things I’m trying to figure out, but I’m a little reluctant to invest too much in it. The published pricing of $2000/year or $6000 for a perpetual license with 1y of support might be doable, but the lack of visibility into where pricing goes from there gives me serious pause.

Webhosting with and Webfaction

A few months ago I wrote about shopping for a new webhost that would let me run Django and other python apps. Pair, my long time web host has been great, but they are pretty conservative in what they support, and python and ruby frameworks that need long running processes, like Django and Rails aren’t something they allow on shared hosting.

I ended up signing up for the basic account at Webfaction, and I’ll be running a couple of feed aggregating “planets” on it soon, and I have a learning project or two that I’ll also host there. In the long run though, I may end up moving our blogs there, and maybe even our e-mail. I haven’t done anything very challenging there, but so far, so good.

Of course, Pair isn’t holding still. Every year, they increase the bandwidth and storage allotments, though the price of the advanced account, which is the cheapest account that will run dynamic applications, never drops. Last winter they added additional options for domain hosting. There used to be a $1/month fee for each separate domain you hosted, though with the advantage that that domain had a unique static IP. Now you can host multiple domains on a single IP without a recurring charge.

They’ve also rolled out a new brand called Pair Lite. There is only one plan, and it’s about half the price of Pair’s Advanced account. For that price you can run PHP apps, get 5 mySQL databases, shared IP hosting for 10 domains, and enough bandwidth and storage for most hobbiest sites. This gives pair an offering at about the same price point as bargain hosters Dreamhost or a specialized host like Webfaction, but you still don’t get what you need to run Django or Rails apps.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings though. Pair is using the new service as an opportunity to deploy more modern software, like MySQL 5, PHP5, and Apache2, instead of MySQL 4.1, Apache 1.3 and PHP4. One issue is that the Pair Lite plan offers no real upgrade path. They suggest you should move up to one of their traditional plans, but that’s not going to be a real option for anyone who needs PHP5 and MySQL5 until they migrate their traditional hosting to the newer versions.

Note: Some people have been running Django as a CGI app, but something about that approach feels icky, so I’m not going to do it, but here are some links on how to go about it.

Gypsy Jazz Bewitches, the Eye Wanders

My webhosting company and I have always been a committed pair, but now gypsy jazz has me all hot and bothered, and wondering what I’m missing. has been there for me for for almost a decade. They host all of our personal websites & e-mail. There have been a few rough patches, but overall, they’ve been very solid. I’ve considered looking elsewhere save some money, but as Anthony pointed out, it seems foolish to turn away from a good thing.

The thing about Pair is that they are very conservative. They are still running Apache 1.3.x, PHP4.1 & MySQL4.1. They don’t offer one touch installs of anything, and no dice on running anything that requires a long running process, like Django, or Ruby on Rails. This was fine with me for a long time, but now I’m getting itchy.

I want to set up a “planet” (a site that aggregates and republishes selected RSS feeds), and I haven’t been thrilled with the PHP options I’ve found. I played with using Drupal tonight, but I don’t like the behavior of either the built in aggregator, or the third-party module I tried. The built in aggregator doesn’t preserve authors or categories on imported RSS items. Leech, the third party module I tried, doesn’t preserve authors, and while it is supposed to preserve categories, I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. I’ve also considered WordPress (which I use to publish this blog) + a 3rd party feed aggregator plug-in that to preserve both categories and authors, but I would have to hack to get it to display just an excerprt of full-text feeds .

That led me to Feedjack, which is built using Django. Feedjack already appears to do everything I want and if it doesn’t I already know enough about both Django and the Universal Feed Parser to customize things to my liking. Plus, having someplace I can deploy Django apps also eliminates a hurdle to finishing (and starting) another little project I’ve been toying with.

Right now I’m considering A Small Orange and Web Faction. A Small Orange (ASO) seems to have a decent reputation and they represent the cheapest cost of entry. They have a plan that can apparently run Django for as little as $25 a year. Web Faction starts at $9.50 a month (with discounts for paying for one or two years at a time), but they offer 2x the storage and almost 10x the bandwidth of the $10 plan at ASO. Plus they offer Postgres in addition to MySQL, and will let you run memcached in addition to Django on their base plan.

All this has me wondering about my commitment to Pair. I could run my wordpress blogs just fine on ASO or Webfaction. I could even migrate my e-mail over. We’ll see, but what I might do is leave my e-mail on Pair, because reliable e-mail is really important to me, and downgrade to their cheapest plan.