*not* just another blog ;)

Reviewing WootHosting

- Posted in VPS by with comments

Today I received an email from Jason at WootHosting that shocked me, they have increased the level of staff and added a new department for cPanel hosting support which is excellent! On top of that, they seem to have added some automatic monitoring tool to their VPS nodes to keep performance in check.

I decided to test this for myself, so I had a look in WHM on one of my reseller accounts which I abandoned a few months ago.. I saw that the server load was down to 7 on 8 threads which is amazing compared to when it was hovering around 40!

I set up a Wordpress page and loaded it with plugins and it worked flawlessly! It's working way better than it did before, and it's exceptional that they can provide such an amazing service for $1 per year! That's for a shared hosting account with 20GB of space in LAX. The plan that I am using to host this website and some of my web design clients only costs $8 per year for a reseller account with 150GB disk and unlimited subaccounts!!

Out of curiosity I opened a support ticket, and to my surprised it was answered and dealt with in less than 10 minutes!! That's shockingly good service for 1 dollar per year service, seriously.

I really wanted to test out these improvements to their VPS nodes too, so I ran a benchmark on a $6/year VPS with 512MB RAM and 15GB disk.

CPU model:  Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU           E5620  @ 2.40GHz
Number of cores: 1
CPU frequency:  2400.288 MHz
Total amount of RAM: 512 MB
Total amount of swap:  MB
System uptime:   53 min,       
I/O speed:  115 MB/s
Bzip 25MB: 6.73s
Download 100MB file: 12.8MB/s

Those are excellent results, that VPS previously was a little bit slow, so I'm extremely happy about the changes they've made.

I am impressed that they've pulled up their socks and made their extremely affordable products work as well as (if not even better than) those of more expensive providers.

Well done WootHosting!

Installing Sickrage

- Posted in Quick Tip by with comments

Sickrage is an awesome app that will automatically search for and download TV shows from a variety of sources.

Here's a nice simple copy/paste to install Sickrage on a VPS along with all of its dependencies:

sudo apt install -y python-pip python-dev git-core libssl-dev libxslt1-dev libxslt1.1 libxml2-dev libxml2 libssl-dev libffi-dev ;
sudo addgroup --system sickrage ;
sudo adduser --disabled-password --system --home /var/lib/sickrage --gecos "SickRage" --ingroup sickrage sickrage ;
sudo mkdir /opt/sickrage && sudo chown sickrage:sickrage /opt/sickrage && cd /opt/sickrage ;
sudo -u sickrage git clone https://github.com/SickRage/SickRage.git /opt/sickrage ;
sudo cp -v /opt/sickrage/runscripts/init.systemd /etc/systemd/system/sickrage.service ;
sudo chown root:root /etc/systemd/system/sickrage.service ;
sudo chmod 644 /etc/systemd/system/sickrage.service ;
sudo systemctl enable sickrage ;
sudo systemctl start sickrage ;
sudo systemctl status sickrage

This will also make it launch on boot, and adds a systemd script so it can be started like this:

systemctl start sickrage

Or stopped:

systemctl stop sickrage

The script will download the latest version of Sickrage from Github.

Here's the deal from Michael at Wishosting:

You can use the 200GBEXTRA coupon for 200GB extra HDD space. It is valid for KVM HDD Plus package. The coupon expires on Apr 1st. The VPS specs are listed below:


2 vCPU core AMD Opteron 6128 Unlimited CPU cores 2GHz 8GB ECC RAM 200GB HDD RAID-1 (400GB with a coupon) Linux/Windows OS Unmetered 250Mbps bandwidth 1 IPv4 DDoS protection Control Panel - OpenNebula Location - France (OVH) Price - $6.99/mo Link - https://www.wishosting.com/order/config/index/VPS/?group_id=2&pricing_id=35

You can order several packages of the same type and combine them into one VM. Also, you can request a private networking between your VMs.

I have found an awesome deal from SerweryDedyKowane.pl:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4th gen
  • RAM: 24 GB
  • Storage: 2x 120 GB SSD or 2x 1 TB HDD
  • Bandwidth: 1 Gbit
  • Price: 38 EUR

Enter the code E3D7-C20D-0EDE during purchase to get an additional 25% one time discount!

With my code you can get this server for 28 EUR!

Changing the SSH port

- Posted in Quick Tip by with comments

There comes a time when you might need to change the port that SSH listens on, this can be for various reasons, often because a seedbox script sets it to something else such as 33 and you want to change it back.

First thing we need to do is change the port in the sshd_config file by doing this

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Look for this:

# What ports, IPs and protocols we listen for
Port 22

Mine says port 22, but yours might have 33 or something else.

Change that to the port you want it to be, and when you're done, press Control-X to exit, y to save and press Enter to close.

The only thing left to do is to restart the sshd for the changes to take effect:

sudo systemctl restart sshd

And we're done.

If you have a NAT VPS you will notice that they do not come with their own IP address, instead they come with a shared IP and a range of forwarded ports. The port range you get is usually never the same as what you want them to be.

For example, let's say you want to run a web server on your NAT VPS, you will find that your port range might be 12300-12320 but we need port 80 and 443 for web servers.

The solution is using the IPv6 address that comes with your NAT VPS, along with Cloudflare's IPv6 to IPv4 gateway.

Today I will set up a web server on a free domain from Freenom, using a $3/year NAT VPS from Wishosting and using Cloudflare to make it all work.

What we need

  • A domain - this can be your own domain, of if you don't have one, you can use a free one from Freenom.
  • A NAT VPS - If you don't have one, there are some on this list.
  • A free Cloudflare account

Getting Started

Once you have your domain and your Cloudflare account connected (you've set the name servers for your domain to those that Cloudflare gave you) we can move on.

We need to find the IPv6 address of your NAT VPS, and to do this we issue the command:

ip -6 a

This will return something similar to this:

    inet6 2001:41d0:2:c1d2:200:c0a8:6628:0/112 scope global 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 fe80::c0ff:fea8:6628/64 scope link 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

IPv6 is a complicated thing in my opinion, but what we're looking for is this:


That is the IPv6 address for this VPS - yours will be different, but you get the idea.

The fe80:: address is the equivalent of or the loopback/localhost.

Setting up Cloudflare

So, in the first steps I glazed over the whole adding nameservers part. I will assume you can do this, if not, please let me know in the comments and I'll add those details in. It varies depending on which registrar you use for your domain.

On Cloudflare, what we need to do is add an AAAA record with your IPv6 address.

Here's an example: If I wanted to have dah85.cf point to the web server running on port 80/443 on my NAT VPS, I would add the following records:

  • AAAA - dah85.cf - 2001:41d0:2:c1d2:200:c0a8:6628:0
  • AAAA - www.dah85.cf - 2001:41d0:2:c1d2:200:c0a8:6628:0

Tip: Make sure the Cloud icon is orange or it won't work

This means that when someone visits dah85.cf or www.dah85.cf in their browser, it will automatically connect to the IPv6 address even if the visitor doesn't support IPv6. Cool eh?


There are a couple of points to note about this. Firstly, this will ONLY work for Websites - it does not forward SSH or FTP or anything else. Secondly, if you've changed the port that Apache or Nginx listens to from anything other than 80 or 443, this will not work.

If I have missed anything or you need clarification, please let me know in the comments below and I will add the details in this post.

I was looking for a nice easy way to visualize the network speed of a VPS I got recently, and I came across slurm.

screenshot of slurm in action

Slurm will show you in a graph form the current network speed, as well as the peaks and amount of data transferred/received since the last reboot.

I am using a Ubuntu 16.04 VPS that I got for $5 per year and wanted to be able to see when there is traffic.

First, I installed it with apt:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install slurm

Then, I found out the name of my network interface:


Then I ran it like this:

slurm -s -i venet0

The -s will split the screen into incoming/outgoing display like shown in the screenshot above. The -i tells it which network interface to use. In my case it was venet0. On my laptop, it's wlp2s0.

I posted earlier about gtop, which shows the network speed in a similar way along with details that htop would also show, but I like using this alone because it's very lightweight - especially on a low end VPS.

I've been using an IPTV service that works great during the day, but at night it skips and stutters and buffers like crazy. It turns out the reason for this is to do with routing.

In Australia - specifically on the NBN - peak hour is usually between 3PM and 10PM, roughly when school kids start getting home and people get home from work and start their Netflix binge watching etc.

Most (if not all?) IPTV providers tend to have their servers in Europe. It seems like Germany is a popular choice for this. I have a 100mbps (megabit per second) connection at home and during off-peak I can get around 300 kilobytes per second which is 0.3mbps (0.3 megabit per second) and during peak time this plummets down to around 50kb/sec (kilobytes per second) or 0.05mbps (megabits per second) and this makes IPTV unwatchable.

After testing different speed tests from different locations, I've realised that Australia has a pretty consistent connection to the USA, in particular LAX and Miami during off-peak and even during peak times. It got me thinking about using that to my advantage to help with my IPTV situation.

How I fixed it

I decided that the best approach here would be to set up a VPS in an ideal location, run a proxy server on it and point VLC to that proxy server.

The first thing I did was set up a cheap VPS in Los Angeles. I chose to use this one for $8/year.

For better results and to be able to select different locations or change IP etc, I would recommend setting up a cheap VPS resource pool. This one is $19/year and lets you create up to 2 VPS in 4 locations in the USA (LA, Miami, New York and Chicago.

Once I had that set up, the next thing I did was set up a tiny proxy server, aptly named Tinyproxy.

Setting up Tinyproxy

I am setting this up on a Ubuntu 16.04 VPS, if you are using another distro then replace apt with yum/etc:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install tinyproxy

Tinyproxy is now installed, but it needs to be configured.

sudo nano /etc/tinyproxy.conf

We need to change a couple of things. First, the port. It defaults to 8080 which is very predictable and likely to result in your server being used by someone else. Change it to a random high port number that you will remember:

# Port: Specify the port which tinyproxy will listen on.  Please note
# that should you choose to run on a port lower than 1024 you will need
# to start tinyproxy using root.
Port 8080

Secondly, by default, Tinyproxy is set to only allow access from the computer it's running on - not ideal in this case. Find the following lines and change it to look like this:

# Allow: Customization of authorization controls. If there are any
# access control keywords then the default action is to DENY. Otherwise,
# the default action is ALLOW.
# The order of the controls are important. All incoming connections are
# tested against the controls based on order.

Note I have placed a # in front of Allow By doing this I have made it accept all connections. It would be better to set up a rule to allow only a certain range, but for simplicity's sake I am leaving it like this.

As pointed out by Filip in the comments, doing this will open your proxy up to the world! It would be much safer to add your IP range or address in there. If you're not sure, find your IP by googling "what is my IP" and then put that instead of and remove the # in front - if you have a dynamic IP this will be more complicated, so perhaps consider if this is something you're willing to do

Now that we've configured Tinyproxy, we need to restart tinyproxy.

systemctl restart tinyproxy

When the VPS comes back online it's all ready to go and Tinyproxy is waiting for us to use it.

Configure VLC Player

Finally, we need to configure VLC player to use this proxy when playing the videos.

Go to Tools then Preferences and select the Input/Codecs tab. Right down the bottom you will see HTTP Proxy URL

Go ahead and put the IP of your VPS in there along with the port. For example making sure to replace the IP with your VPS IP and the port with the port you've chosen in the config file. Once that's in there, click Save.

Testing it

The moment of truth is upon us. Go ahead and try watching the IPTV stream that you usually have issues with, it's best to test it during off-peak time and as well as during peak time to be sure it's set up correctly.

And there we have it, we've got flawless* IPTV :)

*of course, other factors can come into play, but this will resolve issues related to routing.

A year later..

- Posted in VPS by with comments

It was a year ago when I started my journey into learning about VPS.

It all started when I came across lowendbox.com and found that there are some cheap VPS available. Before that, I knew you could get them from places that would charge an arm and a leg.

I originally had a server running at home, running Proxmox that was used for nextCloud and Plex Media Center and it was costing me around $30/month in electricity (the cost of electricity in Australia is stupid) and I quickly learned that I could offload this to "the cloud" (there really is no cloud, it's just a buzzword for someone else's computer!)

So, looking back at the start of my journey I have learned a lot. I have found the need to upgrade from a VPS to a dedicated server, which I found the amazing deal from SerweryDedyKowane.pl which now handles everything I need.

I still keep a few VPS for playing with, I don't really want everything to be running on my dedicated server for various reasons.

This blog, for instance, started off running on WootHosting's shared hosting for $1/year and now it's running on my dedicated server with absolutely zero downtime (except for when I restarted the server for security patches)

NextCloud and Plex run flawlessly and I'm very happy with the way it's all working.

I could still get away with using VPS instead a dedicated server for these tasks.

If I were to do that, with the hindsight that I now have, I'd recommend to myself to do this:

It's been a pretty fun learning experience, and I have certainly learned a lot by doing this. It's been also really awesome being able to share it with the world through this blog :)

Showing disk usage in Linux

- Posted in Quick Tip by with comments

If you are wondering what is taking up all the space on your Linux server or computer, then there is a simple, handy tool called ncdu which shows you exactly how much space is being used by each folder.

sudo apt install ncdu

Then if you want to view the entire computer:

cd /

Or if you want to see which is the biggest folder in your Transmission download folder..

cd /var/lib/transmission-daemon/downloads

To exit, press q.