[This is an old video from last year (2013) that I think may be useful to those of you attempting Project Gemini or Apollo 11 and doing a web project]

Hi all, I’ve recorded a 26-minute video giving some basics about virtual machines and also showing you how you can use the eforms service from within MySoC to provision yourself a virtual Linux box within SoC for you to play with.

We actually use this service to run the orbital.comp.nus.edu.sg WordPress site, so you can see it can actually be useful to you as a hosting solution as well.

While getting your own server is easy as filling out the virtual paperwork, once you obtain a server, it’s more of an intermediate topic to configure it to be useful to you in some way. You might try installing the common LAMP stack, or installing WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or other content management systems for some extra experience.

Slides here: http://bit.ly/19yRRpY

2014 edit – If you find going through SoC’s VM process tedious or not as fun as having real-world experience, I suggest that you try out Heroku or Amazon EC2  (latter needs a credit card).  Heroku can host PHP, Python, Node.js, and Ruby web frameworks (incidentally it uses EC2 as its backbone, I think).  If you want to have some exposure to the web backend, you can consider Heroku and if you want more nerdiness and control over your backend, use EC2.

The backend is a big learning curve for neophyte coders and it is the primary reason why we use Google App Engine as our framework in Liftoff — it’s supremely easy to deploy and also easy to forget (until bugs start coming up) that there is a backend to worry about in GAE.  For me, it’s a continuum:

<Little control and responsibility>

  1. Google App Engine <application as a service>
  2. Heroku <platform as a service>
  3. SoC’s VM / Amazon EC2 <virtual machine as a service>
  4. Your own physical server <physical hardware also a characteristic you have to deal with>

<Full control and responsibility>

But don’t take it from me — check out the various debates about these topics on the net.  Your mileage and opinion may vary. 


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