Joachim Breitner

Goodbye server4you

Published 2011-02-23 in sections English, Digital World.

My server, which is among other things hosting this weblog, is a dedicated server originally hosted by the German webhoster webperoni. It was a bargain at that time, and still a good price, and I was satisfied with webperoni’s performance and reliability. Unfortunately, they were taken over by another web hosting company, best known for their server4you brand. They moved my server to a different data center and continued to run it there. Unfortunately, server4you was less reliable and less flexible than my original hoster: For example, when one sector on the hard drive turned bad, they were not able to put in a new drive in my system, let me mirror the content, and then remove the old drive. In another, even worse, instance, my second IP address, which I bought from webperoni, was given to another customer. When I finally noticed and complained, they refunded me the charges that I paid for the IP. But understandably, I wanted to get away from that hoster.

The contract is automatically prolonged for one year if not canceled in time, and I missed the deadline last year. This year, I finally got around to rent a slightly better and slightly more expensive server from Hetzner, which whom I already made good experience. I would have preferred to switch when I am back from India, but server4you would not even let me prolong the contract by just two months – only a whole year or nothing. So they got nothing, and I started to work on the move yesterday.

At first I set off installing the new system from scratch, setting up all the various services and copying over data and configuration. But quickly, I gave up and moved the system by completely by copying programs, configuration and data from the old server.

The new system has its root partition on a LVM share on software RAID, and now uses grub2 to boot. I had a hard time to get it booting, and a hard time to debug the issues without access to the physical console. I finally understood the problem by running kvm -hda /dev/sda -hdb /dev/sdb -curses from the recovery system and observing that the initial ramdisk is having problems finding the root partition. The problem was that I thought addressing partitions via file system labels is the way to go now and manually added root=LABEL=root to the Linux command line in /etc/default/grub. But then the initial ramdisk would not activate the logical volume. If I had just left it to the grub package, which inserted root=/dev/mapper/vg-root, everything would work fine.

The new IP address ( has not propagated throughout the Internet yet. Running the following command for a variety of ports on the old machine ( makes sure nobody notices:

iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -p tcp --dst --dport $port -j SNAT --to-source
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dst --dport $port -j DNAT --to-destination$port

The only question remaining is: What to do with the old server for the remaining six weeks? I am considering to erase the system, set up a plain Debian system and run a tor/freenet/whatelse node at full speed.


Tor & freenet are good ideas.

On top of that, you could run rtorrent to seed Debian, grml, etc isos.
#1 RichiH (Homepage) am 2011-02-23
Maybe help out to download some Yahoo videos?
#2 David am 2011-02-23
Looks like you are renting Internet hosting services, not only web hosting. The difference is rather important: imagine you were limited to the web…
#3 Elessar (Homepage) am 2011-02-23
Correct, I’m talking about complete rented servers with full root access.
#4 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2011-02-23
I've been thinking about moving from my current virtual server to a dedicated machine for some time, but the selection of a hosting company has proven to be the major obstacle so far. You write that you have had good experiences with Hetzner? I heard not so favourable things about them, but that was years ago. The prices seem about right and they offer Debian. But they don't have console access, do they?
#5 Thomas (Homepage) am 2011-02-23
Not permanent. But you can for free get a LARA temporarily attached, which gives you console access. And they offer Virtual-KVM, which is your server running in KVM from a recovery system, giving you SVN access (I could not use that though due to proxy restrictions here).

Generally, they are responsive, helpful and quick, e.g. when I had to have a hard drive swapped in a different server.
#6 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2011-02-23
Sure, tor _and_ freenode, plus maybe bittorrent.
#7 Anonymous am 2011-02-24
Out of curiosity, have you considered hosting your stuff at

I have to move to a different web hoster as well this month and after closely looking at all the options I went for They're not perfect. Their website is partially outdated and overall badly maintained but the machines themselves seem to be in good shape. Debian on XFS, with standby servers mirroring the filesystem via DRBD. I was just sick and tired with clueless supporters at commercial webhosters but at the same time wanted to avoid the hassle incurred by maintaing my own machine, and that made the only option.
#8 Lukas am 2011-02-25
No, I was not aware of Sounds a bit like the server sharing I set up with a few friends (, just more organized and of larger scale.

Neverthess, I feel safer when administrating my own machine.
#9 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2011-02-25

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