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Web Hosting for Monks

by jcwren (Prior)
on May 04, 2001 at 19:24 UTC ( [id://77985]=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've been thinking of setting up a machine at home for hosting pages for users at, and I'd like some feedback.

Here's the plan. I have an IDSL line (144kbps) that I plan on keeping for at least another few months, that has static IP addresses. I also have ADSL, but it's got a dynamic IP address. At some point, I plan on shifting everything to the ADSL line. A friend and I have a scheme for keeping the DNSs updated reliably, so DNS outages should be brief (<5 minutes, perhaps once a week). Basically, I believe this means that you should get pretty reliable service. Except...

... I live on a houseboat, and once in a blue moon, we go out. Or, as happened back in February, the dock got ripped loose from the shore, and I was ISP-less for 5 days (heroin withdrawal is easier to get over than losing your net connection).

Plan: K6-III/450, 256MB memory, 13GB drive running FreeBSD, Apache, mod_perl, mySQL, and PHP4. Shell and FTP access. No charges or ads (by me. You can do your own ads if you want). Caveat: Reasonably low bandwidth/low CPU requirements. No festival servers, no MP3 streaming, no large file downloads. No real limit on disk space, but if I see you sucking up a couple of gigs, you'll get a /msg from me about it. No porn (I'm not opposed to pr0n in any way shape or form, but as a host, I don't want the overhead. Same rules we use here would apply). Reasonable connection reliability, but not like you're going to get at, or other webhosting services. Best effort on my part to keep the box secure, but I've never played "ISP guy", so I'll take suggestions, helpful hints (as long as they apply to a FreeBSD installation), etc. Crack the box, I'll kick your butt off it, and tell everyone here.

You'll get to be, whatever domain we pick. I'm currently leaning towards, although I'll take suggestions. Possibly mail service, depending on what kind of bandwidth demand that will impose on me. I know people would *rather* have a e-mail address.



e-mail jcwren

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by footpad (Abbot) on May 04, 2001 at 20:56 UTC

    As always, ++ for the idea. Go for it.

    As far as possible domains, I see that:


    Are all available as of this writing.

    As far as services, I'd love to see:

    • email (with forwarding)
    • CGI (duh)
    • FTP

    • A certain amount of hosting, perhaps something like, though you might consider making it available at a certain level. After all, do we really want something like

    • Hosting of the Perlmonk's SharedBook Repository, so we can see which books are available and where they are.

    • A search engine that combines hits from pm, that article archive we're always yammering about, Dominus's pages, and so on. Sort of a Good Perl Search Portal.

    In fact, you could even set up a subscription type of thing where you split the proceeds with vroom and co. Make it affordable enough for everyone, even damian1301. ;-)


    P.S. You could even tell us who won the t-shirt. ;-)

      I like nodereaper.{com,net,org}, monkweb.{com,net,org}, and perlmonk(s?).{com,net,org} best out of the domains suggested. As far as levels, I suggest you have any monk desiring web hosting /msg jcwren; after all, e is the one providing it (?). As far as the subscription idea, um ... *ahem* uh ... *cough* *cough* *wheeze* um ... well, I don't know how damian1301 is doing financially, but I'll bet that unless e's broke, my net worth is less than es. Significantly less.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by AgentM (Curate) on May 04, 2001 at 20:14 UTC
    As usual, jcwren, you're willing to give up time and money to give the perlmonks stuff they don't deserve- now how can I disagree with that?!

    But seriously, I'd take care of the issues you mention before it bites you in the azz- you know, like Dubya's environmental planning. Obviously, you plan on giving everyone CGI access. Just judging from the quality of the CGI questions we see around here, I would immediately impose a quota. This would prevent malicious viewers from uploading ridiculous amounts of data which would flood and nuke the server if a script just happened NOT to use CGI and related securities. Yeah, that should be a rule- anyone failing to use CGI on jcwren's server will be shot.

    Shell access? You didn't say- but FTP at least, right? It wasn't clear to me if you were offering this as a service to perlmonks of a certain level or as a public server, so there are a few more things to keep in mind- throw uncessary stuff out of /usr/bin, etc- there is likely no reason for someone to be running X servers or some other shit off of your webserver. Also, it wasn't clear to me whether you are giving people actual UN*X accounts or if you are planning to clump them into some user management web-based system. You seem to trust the perlmonks alot- I'd reconsider that, too.

    I would seriously reconsider whether you don't want to impose bandwidth restrictions-- I really like perlmonks statistics- it would be a shame if I were unable to reach it because damian1301 was trying to bring down the server "as an excercise in security".

    As for the name, I might humbly suggest, but then again, I might not.

    AgentM Systems nor Nasca Enterprises nor Bone::Easy nor Macperl is responsible for the comments made by AgentM. Remember, you can build any logical system with NOR.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by le (Friar) on May 05, 2001 at 00:19 UTC
    Great idea, jcwren, ++ for that one and good luck :)

    Some security thoughts:

    I'm not an ISP myself but I work for the University of Vienna, where we provide webspace (and mailing and much more) for about 40.000+ users. My advice: don't give them mod_perl or PHP. Plain CGI is ok, as long as the scripts run under the user-ID of the script's owner, and not under the Apache user-id, so the chance is minimal that someone messes around in someone elses stuff. Neither mod_perl nor PHP may run as any other user-ID than the webserver's, AFAIK.

    Next, propagate ssh and scp over telnet and ftp.

    And finally, introduce some kind of resource limit, like quotas and CPU-limits per user, so the pigs don't mess around to much.

    Just my 0.02 Euro.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by KM (Priest) on May 04, 2001 at 23:47 UTC
    Maybe the folks could point to your box? Or, or, etc...?


      I like this idea.

      With virtual hosts you can make this work really nicely, with urls like

        you could even do it with a single, catch-all virtual host, using mod_rewrite.

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by coreolyn (Parson) on May 04, 2001 at 22:57 UTC

    Outstanding generousity -- hats off to you!

    Your post seems to imply that you'll be running the web server and your connection on the same box, and from expirience I can tell you that's an invitation to trouble. Even if there's only angelic monks there's still the rest of the web to consider.

    You might want to consider getting a separate low end pentium 32MBRam 500MB HDD and OpenBSD for a connection/firewall box. (Don't slap me it's just a more security slanted version of BSD).

    You may also want to peek at tzo for $100/year they handle dynamic DNS forwarding so you can manage your own DNS servers from a dynamic IP as well as services for managing mail while your systems offline.

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by thabenksta (Pilgrim) on May 04, 2001 at 19:29 UTC

    Of Course, you know i'm all for it.

    I have some ISP experience and would be happy to offer my assistance., is my favorite, but what about,,

    my $name = 'Ben Kittrell'; $name=~s/^(.+)\s(.).+$/\L$1$2/g; my $nick = 'tha' . $name . 'sta'; .... That is sooo funny !!

      You know how many pr0n searches will hit that addy .... that would be crazy ... go for it !!!



      "We rock the body to rock the party ... until the party rocks the body"

      De La Soul

      Of course, while sounds funny, is even cooler, especially when you're going to give away infinite accounts! Imagine the possibilities! Eventually, someone will write a real killer-web-application (and you quickly add a retro-active clause to your TOS claiming a nice percentage >:-> )
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by azatoth (Curate) on May 04, 2001 at 19:45 UTC
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by ZZamboni (Curate) on May 05, 2001 at 05:16 UTC
    Wow, jcwren. This is an amazingly generous offer. Thank you!

    I would like to second coreolyn's suggestion of using a separate box for the connection/firewall. OpenBSD is a good suggestion - stable and very secure right out of the box. You might also want to consider making the hosting machine run OpenBSD, for the same reasons.

    As for names, I would suggest (without the "s" at the end), which would make sense if you have individual subdomains (, or I would also second some of the previous suggestions:

    and of course...


(dws - on a boat?)Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by dws (Chancellor) on May 05, 2001 at 03:43 UTC
    ... I live on a houseboat

    Cool. But that brings up one concern: Does the (gentle?) rocking of a houseboat affect the half-life of disk drives? Spinning drives have gyroscopic properties, which you can feel by playing with a spun-up drive. (You can just barely feel the effect by applying pitch or yaw to a laptop). If the rocking of the boat continually takes drives off-axis, is the resulting strain going to reduce their reliability or longevity?

    Does anyone have info on the half-life of hard disks on boats? Are there special hardened-for-Naval-use drives that are more boatworthy than off-the-shelf drives?

      If I played Half-Life on a house boat, I'd surely be seasick.

      I'm feeling queasy for thinking it.

      Seriously, I doubt the effect on the drive will take it below the replacement date of the drive. I'd be surprised if jcwren didn't replace them within two years.

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by djw (Vicar) on May 04, 2001 at 20:10 UTC
    Great idea. I'd be able to chip in some hardware (if needed) or you could setup a tip system using paypal.

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by providencia (Pilgrim) on May 04, 2001 at 22:02 UTC
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by chipmunk (Parson) on May 04, 2001 at 20:23 UTC
    How about ? Hehe!
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by Ducati (Beadle) on May 05, 2001 at 03:19 UTC

    That idea is da bomb ... I am all over that !!

    I would like to provide a NEWBIE section if that is OK. I am a relative newbie ... and one of my fav sites is (great site check it out). I'd like to start something similar but for Perlnewbies and provide newbie'ish info (ie: path set-up, basic tutorials, links, etc). My goal is to make it a "newbie friendly" environment ... this helps build confidence and apprecation.

    Any oppinions on that ??


    P.S. ... I am still laughing !!!


    "We rock the body to rock the party ... until the party rocks the body"

    De La Soul

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by eejack (Hermit) on May 05, 2001 at 17:26 UTC
    Howdy jcwren,

    Personally I think you are flat out nuts, the security concerns of having a variety of perlish folk making whoopee on one box makes my eyes squint. Me thinks you have been dipping into the sacrament wines agin.

    However, if you choose to take this road to madness cut us in for any dns or backup mail services you think you might want/need/desire. I'd offer hosting the box but I have clients - the thought of a bunch of monks running willy nilly from inside my network is too scary for me to consider.

    I think your biggest problem is going to be *what version of perl to run?*

    Personally *if I were king* I would put mysql (or postgresql) on the box for administrative reasons, I use a combination of databases, shell scripts and web forms to maintain my httpd.conf and email forwarding (via /etc/virtualhosts). It would also give folks a database to work against.


Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by Albannach (Monsignor) on May 05, 2001 at 19:08 UTC
    The imagination and generosity of jcwren is the stuff of legends! Hmm, in that vein, how about Perlhalla? I figure this would translate to the Hall of Perl, but it also has a nice ring in my ear (or wait, maybe that's my MP3s ;-).

    I'd like to be able to assign to an luser

Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by premchai21 (Curate) on May 04, 2001 at 19:59 UTC
    All for it. Not sure about the domain name, but very sure about the idea. Would help, but I have a dial-up connection. Oh well. All for it anyway.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by scottstef (Curate) on May 05, 2001 at 17:09 UTC
    I would be offerring to help with this, jcwren I have an old sparc 630 with 2 4.5 gb hard drives and a cable connection that we could use either for a backup, or mirror site for when you go out to sea. 8^). I just need to get root on it and reinstall. Please let me know how or if you would like me to help.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by Beatnik (Parson) on May 06, 2001 at 14:15 UTC
    ++ for the idea...
    what about perlfreaks.(com|net|org) or perladdicts.(com|net|org) ?

    ... Quidquid perl dictum sit, altum viditur.
Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by stuffy (Monk) on May 06, 2001 at 13:29 UTC
    I have personally thought about running a server for monks to write and test scripts. I was planning on using an old p133 computer for the firewall, and something a little better for the server. My only problem is that my house is in a new development that doesn't yet have high speed access cheaply yet. I like the idea, and as long as people realize that their info could get wiped out at anytime due to bad coding and are not using it as a website that then need to run 24X7 regardless, It's a great idea. Once I have my server set up (whenever that is,) I will mirror or host or what-ever I can do to help.


Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by Anonymous Monk on May 04, 2001 at 21:55 UTC
    Sounds generous. Can you keep me in on it??


Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by strredwolf (Chaplain) on May 07, 2001 at 23:09 UTC
    I would definetly go for CGI hosting at, which could also work an AvantGo version of Stalag '99 (and belive me, I haven't reached 10 megs of comics on my KeenSpace account there).

    That, and have pointers to my scripts here. ;)

    But I definetly would go for perlskunks, and offer to do the artwork for it for free.

    Also, check JustThe.Net to see if you can switch your ADSL to have a static IP address, so you don't have to do any magic. I know the folks there (that, and they're running an Earthlink Amnesty campaign).


Re: Web Hosting for Monks
by mattr (Curate) on May 07, 2001 at 18:07 UTC
    Wow, that's a very generous idea. Perhaps this could recreate or extend the commons, so we can work on projects together and report back at about them.. open a working perl environment to multiple perlhackers on the same box so you can use each other's modules and so on. If you have a few higher grade monks around, one at all times, then people could request they install x from cpan and save diskspace from duplicated modules too.

    I'd done some work on making network callable code objects through html and cgi, but this sounds lots more fun.

    How about requiring terse, elegant code, who needs a lot of disk space on your machine? This is where monks can prove their stuff!

    Maybe email (unless needed for a hack) should be forwarding only, otherwise lots o' spam. Maybe high tide mark on the homepage so we can see how many monks are online at the moment? Well anyway here are some more possibles. - - - s/monk/monks/ - (I like it!:) - - - - - (!) - - (yes!) - - /need a new TLL:>

    sign at bottom of page: Powered by Perl Monks
    (soon you may sell the latest monk engine to keep your boat stocked with petrol, I hope)

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