It’s been a while since I have last setup a VPS, and I thought I should exercise some server skills, so this time I documented the process of getting a new VPS running smoothly.
Getting a server, these are the options:
Dedicated server ($100+): If you have a huge project or have too much money, this is going to be your option.
Pay as you go: If you think you will want to scale up your side project instead of just having a sandbox, you can go for platforms such as AWS EC2 or Google Compute Engine.
Virtual Private Server: If all you want is a small sandbox, you should be fine with a shared VM. There are several options here:
- Bare metal: These are not exactly VPSes, I am referring to extremely cheap dedicated servers, such as Scaleway or OVH for as low as 3 euros per month (and perpetually out of stock).
- KVM: True VM, allows you to run Docker or other technologies that require to run on their own kernel.
- OpenVZ: The truly cheap option. The shared kernel means that many things will be off limits. But good enough for most uses.
I just wanted to start with a dirty cheap sandbox so I picked a $10/year OpenVZ box (2 core, 2GB RAM, 20GB SSD) from https://hiformance.com.
I don’t think any VPS provider these days doesn’t offer at least the latest stable headless images of CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu. I want to get running as fast as possible so I picked Ubuntu 16.04 Server x64.
Setup SSH PKI: http://www.linuxproblem.org/art_9.html
Create a user and group:
sudo groupadd users
sudo useradd -G users ben
Add to passwordless sudoers in visudo:
ben ALL=(ALL:ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
Switch the default shell from /bin/sh to Bash:
chsh -s /bin/bash username
Copy root’s .bashrc and .profile, then
chown -R ben /home/ben
I’m spoiled and don’t like overusing the terminal. One awesome thing about X11 is that it’s designed around network transparency. So you can get super-fast remote desktop connection through X2Go.
Start by setting up a firewall and XFCE with this: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-a-remote-desktop-with-x2go-on-debian-8. Just stop before your install X2Go server.
Install the X2Go server with this: https://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/doc:installation:x2goserver#installing_x2go_server
At this point I got
Connection failed. : mesg: ttyname failed: Invalid argument. Turned out there was a line that said
mesg n || truein root’s .profile, which I blindly copied… I removed it and X2Go worked.
Install X2Go client locally, make a shortcut that uses your SSH key, put a shortcut on your desktop if you want. Finally, if you want you can do some xfce customization (most importantly install xfce4-goodies and xfce4-term) and install some basics:
sudo apt install firefox git.
And voila! You’ve got the perfect remote desktop solution to your Linux box.
sudo apt install nodejs npm