For those who didn’t know, today’s the last day that DreamHost is tripling the specs on most of their webhosting plans, meaning that you can get a ton for a lot less than you’d think. (For example, the third level of hosting includes over 7.5 gigabytes of disk space and nearly 200 gigabytes a month of bandwidth, as well as 3,000 email accounts accessible by POP or IMAP, unlimited MySQL databases, custom domain name service, access to all your log files in raw and processed forms, and even a free domain name registration, all for $19.95 a month.) On the plus side, DreamHost gets reasonably good reviews from some of the users at MetaFilter (and by a few other people out there); on the minus side, I’ve heard that the company holds some sort of grudge against Movable Type, to the point of sending emails to users talking trash about it. (How odd!)

DreamHost has also been running a promotion for new users since last October, where if you sign up for a level 1 account (think all the above specifications cut down to anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3), prepay an entire year on a credit card, and use the promotion code “777”, the whole thing will cost you $9.24 for the first year. If you combine the two — the sale ending today and the 777 promotion — you’ll end up with about 2.5 gigs of disk space, 120 gigs a month of bandwidth, a free domain registration, and more email addresses than you’ll know what to do with. Seems worth it in almost any event!

I’m posting this because I think it’s a really good deal, not because I have any prior experience with DreamHost. That being said, because of a confluence of needing a hosting provider for a project I’m helping develop and the good prices, I did sign up for an account this week, and I’ll surely be posting my experiences as I start delving in to their offerings. And since I have an account, you can feel free (or not!) to use my referral name, hombrequeso, when you sign up (which earns me a small, small percentage). Also, feel free to post your own experiences with the hosting company — every signup comes with a 97-day money back guarantee, so in the next 94 days, I’d love to hear how other people feel!


They aren’t too bad, if you have a shell account and are comfortable compiling your own kit. What they provide isn’t all that nice: Python 2.1.3 (Sept. 7, 2002!) and a seriously crippled PHP are the one that frustrate me the most.

• Posted by: Phil Ringnalda on Mar 20, 2005, 6:21 PM

How is their PHP crippled? I’m asking seriously — I’ve never run across anyone mentioning this before.

That python version is a bit crusty, though. (Luckily, I’m not looking to host a python project there right now, and the PHP installation doesn’t seem to have any problems running my app at this point.)

• Posted by: Jason on Mar 20, 2005, 6:28 PM

Everything that gets you out to the shell (backtick, exec(), system(), and sometime since I wrote ‘getting out of php jail by crawling out a pipe’, popen()) is disabled, so to do anything in the shell I write a Perl CGI to do it and output the result, and include that, and as of March 29 they are going to disable allow_url_fopen, so instead of file_get_contents() I’ll be having to use cURL to get to Perl to get to iconv, because they don’t include the mb_* functions or iconv, so converting between charsets is a pain.

If you’re dealing with nothing but ISO-8859-1, and not getting stuff from remote servers (or writing from scratch, so going through cURL’s no big deal), it’s fine, but otherwise it’s a bit annoying (or a lot annoying, when you just want to shell out to run something quick, and you know that in anything but PHP they’ll happily let you, but in PHP you have to do a ridiculous and slow two- or three-language dance, or give up and compile your own).

• Posted by: Phil Ringnalda on Mar 21, 2005, 12:36 AM

Phil, I’ve never had the need to run external commands from a PHP script, so I’m not feeling your pain, but I did just run a quick test, and system() certainly works on my Dreamhost account. I suspect that you’re running PHP as an Apache module, and not as CGI. You may want to consider switching to CGI unless you have a specific reason not to do so (ex., HTTP auth). I think you’re still out of luck re: iconv, but I did notice that they added gettext support at some point, which is something I’ve been wanting.

I think Dreamhost relies on Debian’s packages for the non-big-ticket items, such as Python and Ruby, which is why they’re so woefully out of date. You can actually invoke Python 2.2.1 (not ancient, just old!) with /usr/bin/python2.2, though. And I recently saw on their bulletin board that they’ve backported the Python 2.3 package from Sarge to Woody, and they’re currently looking for volunteers to test it.

• Posted by: jacob on Mar 25, 2005, 1:33 AM
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