Configuring a VPS from scratch at Rackspace

Hello everyone…

Last monday I signup a new VPS (Virtual Private Server) at Rackspace. Let’s go!

Why do I need a VPS? Why not a shared host company?

You don’t need, but it’s better than a shared host. Using a shared host (usually use cPanel/WHM) you have to follow the company’s rules. If you want to try some framework, for example, that uses PHP 5.3 and your shared host has PHP 5.2, you are in a dead end. Shared hosts don’t allow you change that. Using a VPS you have all control about the server.

Getting a VPS

I like the Rackspace service. They have a very fast support (live chat 24/7/365) and the host service is very good. I recommend them! But, with these steps I should you can get any VPS you want.

Choose the VPS you want (at Rackspace):

Get the VPS and login the Cloud Controle Panel:

  1. You’ll se your main menu in the left side. Let’s access: Hosting >> Cloud Servers.
  2. Here you’ll se all servers you have at Rackspace. Click “Add Server” to create one
  3. Select the Operational System you want. My choose was Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
  4. Give the server a name, like **|***|*, and select the amount of ram and disk you want
  5. Wait for the server creation. After 1, 2 minutes you’ll receive an e-mail with your IP and password

Let’s access your new VPS using SSH and type your password (mailed by Rackspace):

ssh root@12.34.567.89
root@12.34.567.89's password: <type your password>

Initial configuration

In my case, I use LAMP with Zend Framework. So let’s install PHP, MySQL and Apache.

apt-get update // to refresh your apt repositories
apt-get install apache2
apt-get install mysql-server
apt-get install php5
apt-get install phpmyadmin
apt-get install zend-framework
apt-get install proftpd // access by FTP

Webmin – Control Panel

For Control Panel I prefer Webmin. It’s free and VERY VERY good…

Follow the steps at Webmin site:

Edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file and add these lines in the end:

deb sarge contrib
deb sarge contrib

Save the file. In the shell get the GPG key…

cd /root
apt-key add jcameron-key.asc

Give APT a refresh and install Webmin throw apt-get:

apt-get update
apt-get install webmin

Postfix – Sending e-mails

You’ll need a mail server to send e-mails using your applications. Let’s install Postfix. It’s better than sendmail (my opinion).

apt-get install postfix

Follow the step in the Daiana Bueno post (in portugues, but you’ll understand) to configure your Postfix server using Ubuntu.

Your first domain hosting

Let’s host the domain.

In your Rackspace Cloud Panel, go to Hosting >> Cloud Servers >> On the top of page click “DNS” and under “Domain Management” click “Add”. You’ll add a new domain.

Fill with and click OK. Your domain will appear in domain grid. Click the domain and you’ll se the DNS records of your domain.

I strongly recommend you to use the Rackspace’s DNS records. I tried to install my own DNS Server (Bind) and had a lot of problems. It’s not a simple configuration and you have a lot of steps that does not matter.

First, let’s create basics DNS records. Let’s tell the Rackspace DNS server that the domain is hosted by your IP address.

  • Type: A
  • Name:
  • Content (IP address): 12.34.567.89
  • TTL (Seconds): 300

After, to ensure access using let’s create a CNAME record.

  • Type: CNAME
  • Name:
  • Content:
  • TTL: 300

Creating the user, uploading a sample website file and creating a Apache Virtual Host

Creating a new user

Open for the first time your Webmin app. Type https://12.34.567.89:10000 in your browser. Fill username as root and your root user password.

On left side click System >> Users and Groups. Click Create a new user. PS: Creating a new user we’ll create automatically a FTP account with the username and password provided.

Fill these fields:

  • Username: mycompany
  • User ID: Automatic
  • Real Name: My Company
  • Home directory: Automatic (Webmin will create the /home/mycompany path for you)
  • Shell: /bin/sh
  • Password: Normal password
  • … let next fields as default
  • On “Group Membership” fieldset click “New group with same name as user” (user mycompany and group mycompany)
  • … next fields are ok…
  • Click “Create” button

Now we have the /home/mycompany directory. Let’s create a public_html directory inside it (will be our public directory, with website contents).

cd /home/mycompany
mkdir public_html

A test file

Now create (or upload using FTP) a index.php file with this content:

<?php echo ' is working'; ?>

Creating a Virtual Host in Apache

Now we know that Rackspace’s DNS servers knows the domain is hosted in our IP address (at Rackspace’s Panel) and the website (index.php) is ok too. So, you can have a lot of domains in the same server. For that you must use Apache’s Virtual Host, that tell where is the files for THAT domain you want. We can get something like: >> /home/mycompay/public_html >> /home/yourcompany/public_html

Let’s create a Virtual Host.

Using WEBMIN, click Servers >> Apache Webserver. Click now Create virtual host. Fill only the fields above (for others fields use the default option):

  • Document Root: /home/mycompany/public_html
  • Server Name: Other, type
  • Click “Create Now”

Now click on the Virtual Server link you created to open it’s configurations. Click Networking and Addresses and fill the Alternate virtual server names field with This will allow people to access your site using both and

Click Apply Changes (top/right) to restart the Apache server and apply our new configurations.

Ok! It’s all configured. Now update your DNS record at your registrar (like GoDaddy, Enom, etc) and wait for the DNS propagation. Rackspace uses these DNS domains: and

Remember! Using a VPS you can install and manage what you want. You can test frameworks, databases, etc. I suggest you to browse Webmin. It has a lot of usefull options like database creation, PHP configuration, Apache configuration, and what you want. It’s a very powerfull tool.

Enjoy! Thanks!


Published by

Junior Grossi

senior software engineer & stutterer conference speaker. happy husband & dad. maintains Corcel PHP, and PHPMG. Engineering Manager @ Paddle

6 thoughts on “Configuring a VPS from scratch at Rackspace”

  1. Terrific tutorial. Best one I’ve seen and saved me where the Rackspace KB failed. Just the right amount of technical information balanced with the right amount of explanation.


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