So how do you get very cheap servers these days?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) I get from the readers of my blog and the answer is: virtualisation. Instead of providing dedicated hardware to consumers, providers make use of one virtualisation technique or the other, and divide the same physical machine into numerous self-contained servers. Consumers can run various applications on these servers, such as a blog, purchase/lease these servers with shared resources at very low prices. This is a win-win situation for the consumer as well as the provider, in most cases. The consumer gets a dedicated and isolated server with full root user access, and the provider leases a part of the dedicated server at a low cost.
You might ask how this is different from normal Web hosting. Well, first of all, you do not get shell access to a shared hosting server, let alone the root level access. Second, the performance you get with Web hosting accounts ranks very low compared to what you get from a virtualised server.
A good place to start the search for cheap virtual servers is http://lowendbox.com/
This will list all the available OpenVZ kernels from the repository. Choose the one that you want to install according to your server operating system architecture:
This should also update the GRUB (bootloader) entry, but I recommend you cross-check that the vzkernel is booted by default every time the system restarts. Open /boot/grub/menu. lst with your favourite text editor, and make sure the value of default is set to 0 and the title OpenVZ (kernel-version) is on the top of the various lists of available kernels. Refer to Figure 1.
If you are using a different bootloader (such as syslinux), then check the configuration file accordingly.
Before rebooting the host server, install a few other goodies that are needed in order to create/manage the containers: