How everything started

It all started during the years 1999/2000, I was then freshly graduated, and to keep in touch with friends, as everyone was going in their own direction, I needed to have an email and a little webpage. So I opted for some of the free services which were available at that time, and I quickly started to be disappointed:

  • My email provider mygale, changed its name after a few month, to be called multimania (by the way, now it is known as lycos). So I had to change my email, and it is not something you want to do every 2 months.
  • I viscerally hated the trend in free webhosting, that was of hijacking your web pages with popups and ads, making it quite painful to read.
  • I wanted a domain name not encombered by a provider name, not one like mydomain.myprovider.com; and redirection mechanisme at that time were not satisfactory: neither url or search engine friendly.

So I decided to act, and the first step toward my freedom, was to acquiere a domain name, which is the bare requierement for email to webhosting. I choosed sdalu.com, in fact I wanted dalu.com but every domain of 4 characters or less were already all bought out and sadly nothing has changed.

The various hostings

Since the initial acquisition of a domain name, my needs evolved for various reasons, and sometimes the market changed too. Here is a summary of the various hostings I had in chronological order, prices listed are excluding VAT and the one at that time.

  1. Webhosting with www.free.fr. Well as the name says it, it's free, you get a subdomain (ie: yourlogin.free.fr) with 100M of disk space, and you also have PHP4 scripting, a mysql database, personalised error pages and htaccess and no popups.
  2. Webhosting with www.online.net. It's cheap (30€/year), they provide you with 100M of disk space, PHP4 script, email services, mysql database.
  3. ADSL hosting. You have the computer and the bandwidth, it is the DIY of hosting. Here you learn how to setup a web and an email server from scratch. Unfortunatelly for me, the ADSL line at Versailles was not that reliable, and was always going down the day after I left for holidays.
  4. PowerEdge 750
    PowerEdge 750
  5. Dedicated hosting with www.oxyd.fr. It costs 59€/month for a 1U rack space with a 1 Mbit/s guaranteed bandwidth (shapped by them, so no risk to pay for excessive bandwidth usage). The computer provided by myself, a PowerEdge 750 with an administration card for only 1038€. (There are some very good administration cards that you can add to a normal computer such as the eRIC II, the MegaRac G2 or the RMC 3.0 but they are quite expensive, around 900€).
  6. Dedicated hosting with www.ovh.fr. Well, time has changed, now for 46€/month you can rent a computer with a shared 100Mbit/s bandwith. And guess what, it is cheaper than just renting a 1U slot and bandwith?!
  7. I'm still hosted by www.ovh.fr. But I upgraded the server, for a little cheaper 42€/month but a lot more powerful 16GB of RAM, quad-core, and 2TB of disk!
  8. I upgraded again! Same price 42€/month but 32GB of RAM and 2 x 2TB of disk.

Website design

This website has known several technological phases:

  1. The first webpages were a simple set of static pages
  2. Next, to avoid duplicating code for the navigation menu, apache was configured to use Server side include (aka: SSI)
  3. In an attempt to factorise code even more, and to have a little of generated content, the webpages were Ruby rendered with an in house cgi script
  4. As lot of modules were developed worldwide using PHP, I switched to PHP so that I could be able to integrate some of them in my webpages, and to easy the rendering Smarty was used as the template engine, and intensive CSS use
  5. I wanted something more standard and a little more dynamic (some would say: web 2.0), so for the first part I used xml/xsl as my template engine, and for the second part javascript with the extjs framework
  6. I switched from extjs to YUI for the javascript framework due to licensing issues and extjs release cycle.
  7. I switched again to another javascript framework, this time jQuery as it is supporting more browsers than YUI.