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.
- 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.
- Webhosting with www.online.net. It's cheap (30€/year), they provide you with 100M of disk space, PHP4 script, email services, mysql database.
- 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.
- 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€).
- 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?!
- 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!
This website has known several technological phases:
- The first webpages were a simple set of static pages
- Next, to avoid duplicating code for the navigation menu, apache was configured to use Server side include (aka: SSI)
- 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
- 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