What Does Unix-Like Mean

What Does “Unix-Like” Mean?

There is so much tech terminology and so little time – so it helps quite a bit when we can think of things within categories. In the case of operating systems, there are essentially two. There are the ones from Microsoft, descendants of Windows NT (for “new technology”). On the other side are basically the remainder of options. These other systems – such as Chrome OS, Orbis OS, iOS, Mac OS X, Android, and Linux – all have a code structure that is loosely described as “Unix-like.”

 

UNIX & its many offspring

 

We can start to understand the term Unix-like by looking at Unix construction and the operating systems created with it as their basis. Coders at Bell Labs, an AT&T facility, created Unix in 1969; Ken Thompson is the specific person credited with its development by the Linux Information Project.

 

Many technologists and organizations have developed operating systems from Unix over the years. However, there are generally two branches of Unix’s “next of kin.”

 

One branch was within education. The chief example is the Unix-like, open source OS Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). This system is built into such further offshoots as FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. In fact, BSD was used to create NeXTStep, which was in turn used to design Mac OS X (from which iOS was developed). In fact, the operating system of the PlayStation 4, Orbis OS, was coded with BSD as its foundation.

 

The GNU project, an effort launched by Richard Stallman to aid in making licensing terms loose enough to facilitate free use of programs, was inspired by the tightening of language within AT&T’s Unix agreement. MINIX was a Unix-like system that was intended for use within academia, and Linux is a descendant of MINIX. When we use a Linux OX now, we are actually using GNU/Linux, notes Chris Hoffman in How-To Geek – because these systems combine a Linux kernel with numerous GNU utilities.

 

GNU/Linux (otherwise, and commonly known simple as Linux) is not a straight offshoot of BSD. However, it is similar because it uses Unix as its initial structure and also grew out of scholarly circles. Many different operating systems – notably Android, Steam OS, and Chrome OS but also ones used on many devices – are rooted in Linux.

 

The above systems were all a single side of development from the original code, the educational offshoots. The other side was commercial systems that were created, with many different companies wanting to promote their own version. These systems are now much less prevalent, but they have included AT&T UNIX, HP-UX, IBM-AIX, SCO UnixWare, SGI IRIX, and Solaris.

 

What do we mean by “Unix-like”?

 

What does the term Unix-like mean specifically, though? It is a blanket way to refer to many different operating systems that all share the same common structure – as opposed to the one used by Microsoft. Unix-like also grew from confusion and debate over what should be considered a Unix system.

 

When we call an OS “Unix-like,” that generally will mean that the source code of the OS (the version of the software as it was originally coded) is directly traceable to, has similar properties to, and is explicitly based on Unix. Examples are Compaq’s True64, Solaris, IRIX, HP-UX, and IBM’s AIX.

 

The umbrella-term Unix-like also refers to clones of Unix. A clone is software that performs in a similar way to other software but does not have the same source code.

 

The way that the prominent Unix clones act is so, well, er, Unix-like that often computer scientists and expert technicians simply refer to them as Unix. These systems should be understood as clones, though, and not Unix-based but certainly Unix-like. These clones include the BSDs (Darwin, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD) Linux (in all its distros), MINIX, Cygwin, and QNX.

 

For the most part, a Unlike-like OS will have most of the additions and elaborations that were appended to the original at the University of California – Berkeley. These features, often called the Berkeley extensions, contains the vi text editor, virtual memory (enabling simulations of extra memory by the hard disk drive), transmission control protocol / internet protocol (TCP/IP, the primary protocol for the internet and local networking), and C shell (csh). Since these capabilities from the Berkeley extensions are so core to the functioning of Unix-like systems, people have sometimes posited that modern systems of this type should be called “Unix/Berkeley” (or “Unix-Berkeley-like”?).

 

Now let’s look at BSD directly: this OS, short for Berkeley Software Distribution, is a Unix clone that was written at the University of California in the 70s and early 80s. Generally BSD and its offshoots are called Unix; actually, one version was even called BSD UNIX 4.0 (October 1980).

 

Controversy related to the UNIX name

 

UNIX is the initial name of the operating system that was created at Bell Labs – that part we know and is indisputable. The way that the term has been understood since that point has become much fuzzier. UNIX became a trademark, and an association created in 1996, called the Open Group, eventually acquired ownership of it. The Open Group states that operating systems should only be called UNIX if they agree with the body’s Single UNIX Specification and pay them a sizable fee. In this sense, it is possible that a system could be called UNIX legally even if were dissimilar to the original and did not contain any of its source code.

 

Apple has questioned the legitimacy of the UNIX trademark – claiming that the term is generic and should not be protected by the government. Apple actually has stated on its website, “Beneath the surface of Mac OS X lies an industrial-strength UNIX foundation.”

The Open Group and Apple have been sparring over usage in this manner.

 

A couple key UNIX or Unix-like characteristics

 

Key design characteristics of the original version of Unix are shared by today’s modern operating systems.

 

One of the basic centerpieces of the way Unix is constructed is that you have small utilities that are fine-tuned to perform single tasks. When you interact with the OS, you are able to leverage these tools in part by blending them, via pipes or otherwise, to carry out more sophisticated activities. By elaborating on modules in this manner and combining utilities, shell scripts also become simpler.

 

Another aspect of Unix that makes it special is that there is just one file system through which software is able to exchange data and interact. All components of the computing ecosystem become represented by files within this model – including special files with system details and even hardware. The contrast to this architecture is the drive letters of Windows (C, D, etc.), a format that Microsoft brought over from DOS. In contrast to breaking everything up into drives, there is one unified directory hierarchy on Unix.

 

What does it mean to have full root access?

 

You will sometimes hear coders and others discussing infrastructure talk about full root access. Full root access means that you have complete superuser privileges over your system – administrative-level control. The root user is unique to Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.

 

Do you want super-fast performance and root access? At KnownHost, our managed VPS hosting plans come with full root access for complete control. Compare plans.

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Tips to Prevent Downtime

7 Tips to Prevent Downtime

The importance of getting your downtime as low as possible is almost impossible to overstate. Look at the perspective of organizational leadership. Incredibly, 9 out of every 10 data center professionals say that management at their company is more focused on downtime than they were 12 months ago, according to the 2017 Uptime Institute Annual Survey.

 

What can you do to keep all your systems up and running consistently, ensuring business continuity? Before we get into those downtime-prevention strategies, let’s first look at the general issue: statistics on how costly downtime is and common risky ways that sensitive data is shared (an activity that increases when systems are unavailable).

 

  • Why is downtime prevention so important?
  • 7 tips to minimize your downtime
  • Take action to keep downtime low

 

Why is downtime prevention so important?

 

The expenses related to downtime have been soaring in recent years. Findings from the Aberdeen Group show that the cost rose 60% from 2014 to 2016 – ascending from $164,000 per hour to hit an average figure of $260,000 per hour, across all industries. Keep in mind, this cost is purely a financial hemorrhage; for a loss more than $1 million, you get four hours without your systems, and (of course) no benefit.

 

These costs are so incredibly high that the risks of outages should now be considered an even higher priority than it already was (as if $164k per hour were not high enough). No matter how large your firm is, it is fundamental to your stability to have business continuity and disaster recovery documents prepared and understood by your staff. Keep this in mind: if you do not know the drill and do not know what steps to take when downtime does occur, the situation could spiral into a much greater crisis.

 

While you may understand that some small amount of downtime should not be considered devastating, you also do not want to become complacent about it. You really do not want to have to put your DR plan into action.

 

Actually, there is another primary reason that you need to worry about downtime that is related to, yet separate from, the money: data loss. Over three-quarters of senior executives have experienced critical data loss caused by downtime, according to a poll from 2016. Also, a disturbing element of these scenarios is that your employees may transition to consumer platforms when the system goes down — creating security and compliance vulnerabilities. Use of these tools should actually be a concern regardless, as indicated by the extent to which information is shared in risky ways (from a 2014 poll):

 

  • Almost one-third of office workers had used a personal email account for work purposes.
  • Dropbox, Box.com, and other file storage software was used by 45% of employees.
  • Storage via USBs or other remote devices was conducted by 63% of workers.

 

As expressed by the above evidence, and regardless of the specific nature of your business, it is reasonable to conclude that downtime matters. Now, what can you do about it?

 

7 tips to minimize your downtime

 

So… what can you do about this? Here are a few trusted and relatively straightforward ways that can improve your ability to keep “all systems go” throughout the day, month, and year:

 

#1 – Review the service level agreements (SLAs) of your providers.

 

Before you get into what is actually happening, you want to know how much availability is guaranteed within the fine print of your business relationships. You will not be able to achieve the availability that you want if your software and hardware vendors offer 90% uptime SLAs. Demand high uptime, and check that those goals are met (compare our 99.9% uptime guarantee with an award we received for our actual 99.989% uptime).

 

#2 – Use highly scalable hardware architectures, along with load-balancing.

 

If you want to be speedy and productive online, it’s necessary to be able to properly scale your data processing and distribute it evenly throughout a group of servers. By using load-balancing, an alternative node will start handling requests whenever the primary node is performing various tasks on a file or is otherwise unavailable. Why is it so central to your business that you be able to quickly and seamlessly scale your infrastructure? You will be a step out in advance of your development – so that the demand for computing from your users is not exceeding your resources. It is also worth noting that downtime is negative even if it is planned because it gets in the way of your productivity. For these reasons, balancing your loads and making your backend as scalable as possible are key to avoiding downtime.

 

#3 – Deploy active-active clusters.

 

To keep downtime levels as low as possible, a typical strategy is the use of active-active or active-passive clusters. The former tactic is particularly effective: one study shows that IT departments using the latter technique lost 34% more critical messages and data than those that implemented active-active clustering.

 

#4 – Do not think that system audits have you covered.

 

Periodic system audits are standard operating procedure for IT departments — and those will help with uptime. You also want to get rid of unhelpful redundancies and to make the practices of your business more intelligent through process audits. Think about the processes that are the most pivotal if your system were to go down; safeguard those systems. Beyond boosting uptime of your mission-critical systems, you will get a better sense of how to spend money on bolstering your infrastructure when you complete your process audit.

 

#5 – Adopt systems that are strong and dynamic.

 

A key concern when you want to limit your downtime is to optimize for scalability. At the level of the hardware, you want to have load-balancing solutions in place so that you do not have a lot of problems related to downtime. What does that mean in practice? If you have to remove a machine from service to make an upgrade or replacement (as with routine maintenance), another server can take its place with no loss of key information or slowdown of your workflow.

 

#6 – Develop and refine a disaster recovery plan.

 

As indicated above, you need a DR plan if you don’t have one. Remember that the scope of disaster is broad, far beyond the notion of a weather disaster such as a flood or earthquake. In the majority of cases, human error – mistakes made by people – lead to disasters; in these situations, unplanned downtime is caused by problems with the process. It is important to know what the DR plan of your vendor is, what would take place if the data center failed, and the extent to which multiple redundancies exist.

 

#7 – Ensure that your providers use enterprise-grade monitoring tools.

 

If the service you choose, such as a managed VPS hosting company, uses the most advanced and effective monitoring tools, they are able to know when a component is going to fail before it happens. If the monitoring systems and processes that are used by the service are sound, software sends messages whenever risks exist that could hurt the business’s speed or reliability. The hosting engineers should resolve the issue immediately so that users are unaware – with all adjustments performed behind the scenes.

 

Take action to keep downtime low

 

Downtime must be avoided – whether you are looking at your own data center or an external one. Achieve excellent uptime that benefits from economies of scale with a strong infrastructure partner. At KnownHost, we have the best uptime in the industry. See our fully managed VPS hosting.

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Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server

Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server: What Are Your Options?

Every business owner, whether they’re a freelancer or the head of a team of hundreds, wants to maximize revenue without having to overextend themselves. It’s often a careful balancing act between wanting to bring in as much money as possible without wearing yourself or resources too thin. Often, people start wondering how they can start making more “passive” income.

 

Right off the bat, passive income is largely a myth and it often sounds too good to be true because it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add another service to your business that won’t require a tremendous amount of time, but still bring in a decent amount of additional revenue. Make no mistake, being a hosting reseller takes work. You will have to provide customer service. But, you can turn it into a profitable addition to your business is you properly dedicate yourself to it. Many digital-based businesses have invested in dedicated servers with the goal of reselling the space on it to host clients’ sites. Many businesses have found success with this model, which is why so many hosting companies advertise their reseller deals. Here is what you need to know about reselling space on a dedicated server.

 

Who would benefit from reselling?

 

Nearly any kind of digital based business can add hosting to its portfolio of services. Naturally, you should offer some kind of web design or development service already in order to seamlessly add the hosting component to the package. You don’t have to be a full-time web designer, though. You may also be an SEO consultant, marketer, or public relations professional that includes site building as part of your list of services provided. Any situation where you’re helping a client design a site or improve their site is an ample opening to also offer hosting. You can easily add it as a line item to your monthly retainer. Or, you may now get to offer a monthly retainer.

 

Choosing the server

 

There are a good variety of high performing servers out there that can help you reach your goals. Ultimately, the question comes down to using a VPS vs a dedicated server. While a VPS costs less and may have enough horsepower to provide a sufficient hosting environment for multiple informational sites, you’re better off going with a dedicated server if you’re serious about running a hosting reselling business.

 

Dedicated servers provide more resources, which is better for scaling as you take on more clients. They are also more flexible. Additionally, if you’re looking to install any specific operating systems or software to help you more easily create a shared hosting environment, the hosting company you partner with may restrict what servers they allow this software to be installed on. A dedicated server may be the best option by default. VPSes are great to be sure, but you might as well go for the safe bet for a few extra dollars a month.

 

The next piece of software may be of particular interest to you if you’re planning on running a Linux server to support your business.

 

Why CloudLinux may interest you

 

You’ll have to choose between going with a hosting company that offers hosting on Windows servers or Linux servers. Linux does allow for a bit more flexibility and customization. Assuming you do go with a Linux host, you may be interested in installing CloudLinux on your dedicated server. CloudLinux, as a company, offers a variety of products. As a reseller, though, what you’ll primarily be interested in is CloudLinux OS as many of the other management tasks will be handled by the hosting company. Installing CloudLinux OS on your dedicated server will make it easier to create a shared hosting environment for you to manage and divide out to your clients.

 

CloudLinux offers features that improve stability, density, and security. It better isolates each client so that allocation of server resources remains “fair” and doesn’t negatively impact other clients on the server. If you’ve ever used shared hosting for your own site before, you know how other sites’ traffic can affect your performance.

 

What you need to be familiar with

 

If you already successfully manage your own site, you’ve already got the technical knowledge required to start your reselling business. You’re no doubt already familiar with how cPanel and WHM work. All you’ll need to do here is go into WHM to create a cPanel environment for each of your clients’ sites and give them the administrative access they need to manage their site. The rest is up to them. Of course, there is one big skill you’ll need in order to successfully run this hosting reseller business and isn’t so much a technical skill, but rather a customer service skill.

 

When you purchase a server with the intention of reselling space on it, it’s usually done (and should be done) under a white label agreement. That is, the original hosting company’s branding isn’t anywhere to be seen. For all intents and purposes, you are selling server space on hardware that you own. However, the downside to that is any issues your customers have aren’t going to be handled directly by the hosting company. They will be handled by you. What that means is, the hosting company you’re paying for a server won’t field your customers’ service tickets. You’ll have to accept them, then contact the hosting company in order to get things fixed. Being comfortable in that middle man role is going to be essential to running this reseller business.

 

Preparing your business

 

Depending on what you already do primarily with your business, preparing your business to take on the role of web host may be simple or it may be time-consuming to get off the ground initially. Either way, it will certainly add somewhat to your regular workload. If you’re lucky and you work strategically, it shouldn’t take up too much time and the extra income every month will far outpace the amount of time you need to spend doing any really difficult work.

 

You’ll need to set up a ticketing system to process any requests that your clients have regarding troubleshooting. This will also involve setting up some sort of help desk type interface somewhere on your business’ current site. Also, be sure to get any kind of legal paperwork prepared including proposals, agreements, and terms of service. When it comes to hosting, these things are important and you need to protect yourself. You may already have a lot of this already prepared for your current business and it’ll just take some tweaking.

 

Conclusion

 

Web hosting is much more adaptable and profitable to your business than you may realize. While many people think of their hosting solution as just a way to keep their business website online, which is important, there are many opportunities to expand your portfolio of services and make additional income. While it may not be explicitly “passive” it’s certainly a great way to make extra revenue every month as a billable item. If you’re interested in signing up for a dedicated server to divide and resell space on, contact us today. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing you with the business solutions you need to grow.

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Is Ransomware A Concern

Is Ransomware a Concern at the Server Level? What You Need to Know

When it comes to IT security, it can feel like the wild west out there. You’ve signed up for a VPS or dedicated server and your website is doing well. But, it seems like every few weeks there’s some major cybersecurity story breaking on the news involving shadowy figures taking over computers and demanding money or knocking organizations offline. It’s enough to make any business owner concerned. How concerned should you really be, though?

 

It’s always good to be vigilant. It would be foolish not to be. However, being aware of the actual chances of being affected by the latest big story is important. It’s equally important not to overlook the older, potentially more dangerous issues that may not get the media buzz, but are actually a bigger risk to your business. The latest fear is about the prevalence of ransomware and the speed at which it can travel. You may be concerned that ransomware may affect your business, particularly on the server level, and take your website offline. Here is what you need to know about ransomware.

 

What is ransomware?

 

There is a lot of “-ware” out there. For many years, spyware and malware were the big ones that everyone concerned themselves with. Make no mistake, they’re still an issue. But, now we can add ransomware to that list of words that concerns everyone from IT managers to CEOs. Ransomware isn’t new, but its profile has been elevated.

 

If you’re just becoming aware of ransomware, the first question that comes to mind then, naturally, is “what is ransomware?” How does it work? Why is everyone so worried about it seemingly all of a sudden. Ransomware essentially takes over your machine until you pay the party responsible for locking it down. Your machine is being held hostage in exchange for money, basically. Yes, ransomware is a type of malware, but its behavior is specific which is why it’s gotten its own colloquial designation. It can lock both your keyboard and the software of your device so there’s no circumventing it. Recently, we’ve also seen ransomware target mobile phones along with computers. It’s only after paying the ransom, usually in Bitcoin, that the machine should ostensibly be released though whether that happens is really up to luck. It’s found that most people, even after paying the ransom, don’t get their access returned. It should also be noted that only about three percent of people affected actually pay the ransom.

 

What’s got people concerned?

 

There have been several high profile ransomware attacks in the news in recent months. The first was named “WannaCry” and the second, more recent attack was known as “Petya.” While ransomware has been a concern since about 2005, two major events have made it a lot more troubling for firms of all sizes and in all industries. For one, the aforementioned leap into infecting mobile phones was a huge leap for ransomware. Traditionally, phones were thought to be “safer” than the traditional desktop or laptop. Second, the last two major ransomware attacks have been so widespread that they lasted for weeks and affected organizations on nearly every continent simultaneously. Even government organizations like Britain’s National Health Services were affected by the attack. Having an entire hospital system filled with sick people suddenly ground to a halt by malicious software made the event something that could not be ignored by the world at large.

 

It does feel like something out of a Tom Clancy thriller or some other kind of futuristic movie, but it’s the world we live in. The question is, is it a threat to your server? While it’s obvious that computers and local networks can be compromised, can the same thing happen to the server powering your website?

 

Is it a threat to your server?

 

There really isn’t a definitive yes or no answer here. It’s more of lean towards “no” simply because of the difficulty involved in things getting to that stage. But, it’s also part “yes” because ransomware does have the ability to affect servers. It’s just a matter of probability. Ransomware has mainly been a client side issue rather than a server one. That’s not to say in the future new bits of malware won’t be written to change that. But, for now, worries about your hosting company calling you to tell you the server has been taken over are minimal at best.

 

The big detail to keep in mind is that the Windows platform has been the most affected by all of these attacks. That’s not to say Linux is invincible, while many like to believe that. Instead, it’s that using a Linux server is a bit more insulating. So, the real concerns are for firms running Windows based networks. That doesn’t mean you should kick back and relax, though. There are still plenty of other kinds of threats you should do what you can to fortify your site from.

 

What is most at risk?

 

Your website may not be at too much of a risk of being taken offline by ransomware, but technically speaking your office could be. If you’re running a network with Windows administrative tools and a Windows OS on every machine, then you need to take the precautions necessary to make sure your security solutions are up to snuff. Also, it’s important to note that user error is often how these things start. All it takes is one person on the network opening up a malicious attachment, and then it spreads out of control. Putting restrictions in place to limit this, whatever those restrictions may be, could be one of the most effective ways to protect your business from ransomware.

 

Other security concerns

 

Generally speaking, it’s the classic threats that should concern you about your website rather than ransomware. Forced entries by way of your login URL are still a concern, especially when bot software can make thousands of attempts in an instant to crack your password. DDOS attacks find their way into the news every so often as well. While your hosting company offers some security against DDOS attacks, you’d be strongly advised to take some action on your own to protect your site. If you use a CMS, always make sure that the core software is up to date and obfuscate the login process in order to make it more difficult for an automated attack to brute force its way in.

 

Conclusion

 

When it comes to threats to your server, website, and business, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. While ransomware in particular may not be the biggest threat to your server environment currently, you should always be prepared for common issues that affect websites and stick to best security practices. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing the high-performance servers you need to power your business and the excellent customer service you want to help you get the most out of your VPS or dedicated server. If you have any questions about what hosting solution would be best for you or you’re interested in a new server, contact us today. Our team is standing by to provide you with any assistance you may need.

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