Joy and pain

This website runs on my own server. That’s not your usual setup for most people, but considering I actually earn my money doing IT for other people. it shouldn’t be a big surprise, either. It is, in fact, a Linux server (debian, to be precise), and heavily secured. Every day there are hundreds of idiots trying to break into the server itself or one of its websites. As far as I can tell, none of them actually ever get anywhere at all, but it’s like the sea: the waves just keep on crashing with neither rhyme nor reason.

The very same server also runs a mail service for most of my domains, and a handful of other websites. All of this information is in the public domain, and any half-decent web guy can figure it out within a few minutes, so I am not actually spilling any beans here.

This website uses WordPress, one of the best blogging and content management tools available for free. There are thousands of plugins available for just about any purpose under the sun and then some, and there are also hundreds of themes (aka skins) available, most of them for free, making this one of the great success stories on the open source community.

Why am I mentioning all of this? I am writing about it because it is at once a great joy and a big pain in the arse. The great joy is that I can do with this server what I like. If I were to have my sites hosted on some cloud service, I would not have that freedom. I would have to share WordPress with hundreds of other blogs, and could only use the themes and plugins made available by the owners of the server. I would not be able to analyze my logs to death, and I would most certainly not be able to get anywhere near the actual operating system itself. On this, my own server, however, I am god (did I mention that I am an atheist?).

There is a price to pay for this elevation, though. It comes in the mundane, weekly or daily maintenance that has to be done.Log files need analysing. Updates need installing. Sometimes they break things, and then I can spend hours fixing them or searching the interweb for solutions. And there was a steep learning curve, now a distant memory, but it had to be mastered. And every couple of years I need to buy new hardware.

So, as you can see, even a god needs to do housekeeping. That’s actually quite inspiring, if you think about it. Of course, you’d have to be an atheist first, otherwise this is all quite blasphemous.

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