Starting from Scratch on DigitalOcean

Recently, I became utterly fed up with Dreamhost’s terrible shared hosting response times ( >2 seconds to first byte) and made the leap to a private VPS at DigitalOcean. Although it has taken some work to get everything running, I’m pretty happy with the move.

Although it took me several days’ worth of research and configuration to make everything operate smoothly, I think the experience was well worth it. DigitalOcean especially deserves credit for their efforts to have a tutorial or article guiding you through just about any configuration you can think of.

If I had to start over, knowing what I know now, I’d probably do things in this order. Doing them out of order doesn’t make it impossible, but it is much less efficient. Here’s a step-by-step for a basic webserver including links to the relevant tutorials.

  1. Create a new droplet (droplet = virtual server instance) at the $5/month level, with 512 MB of RAM, from their LAMP server image.
  2. Configure it to use swapdisk
  3. Install LAMP stack, if I didn’t use the pre-configured LAMP image.
  4. Verify mcrypt is working/enabled, and perform the fix if necessary
  5. Install webmin
  6. Install phpmyadmin

I also took some steps to set up email routing and a few other goodies on my primary server right now, which I may detail in another post.

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