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      4 Chen Hosting goals and difficulties
      6 since late 2015, I have hosted the website Hidden Answers [accessible via tor](http://answerstedhctbek.onion/) [and i2p](http://hiddenanswers.i2p/). the Hidden Answers administrator was upset by the constant downtime of Freedom Hosting 2 and was seeking another host. shortly after I decided to offer my hosting to anyone interested, thus starting [Chen Hosting](http://chchchiasaeljqgs.onion/) (available on i2p as [chen.i2p](http://chen.i2p/)). I wanted to do this both to learn more about web hosting, and to earn some cash while in college. two years in hidden service web hosting has given me plenty of time and experience that I can share with others.
      8 to start off with the upsides, I have definitely learned a fair share about shared web hosting, software, and configuring everything for security, performance, and ease of deployment. I have been able to perform unorthodox installs of popular web software such as WordPress, Question2Answer, and MediaWiki (one shared install for all users). I have partitioned off access between users and services as best I could without the use of fully-virtualised containers, by way of hardened chroots (thanks to grsecurity), process separation (a php-fpm pool per user), and proper file permissions. I have made sure that the real server IP address could not be leaked under any circumstance. on top of this, I have met a handful of people whom I would consider to be good friends by now.
     10 on the flip side, a lot of frustration has come out of web hosting, especially for the niche market in Tor and I2P. obviously, I have to deal with a lot of scammers, trolls, and difficult people. I cannot count with my fingers alone how many times someone has requested a website and never ended up paying for or using it; most people simply run out of patience, apparently. this makes it very difficult to find the motivation to improve my services for current and new customers; it seems like nobody cares enough. in fact, as of the time I am writing this blog post, I have this on the Chen Hosting website:
     12 > Chen Hosting is causing me more of a headache than I can handle right now. I'm busy with school and personal projects (and soon, hopefully a part- or full-time job in IT) and the requests for websites I get are rarely serious. People abandon their sites and I'm not making any real money off it.
     14 other issues I have come across with hosting: the Tor network itself. most of the traffic I receive for Hidden Answers is automated, and some of the automated traffic is very malicious in nature, causing the server's load to spike and performance to drop, at times causing the whole server to be unavailable for legitimate users. on top of that, I have witnessed Tor become unresponsive or crash for unexplainable reasons; I can only assume these are other attacks on the network or on my onion sites. I have tried to find suitable log-monitoring solutions, but this is an exasperating process and I finally just hacked everything together enough that it would <q>just work,</q> not too concerned with whether it was at optimal performance. also, while I have always preferred I2P over Tor for its hidden service support, it doesn't come without its own share of issues: the main implementation is in Java, and the C++ implementation still has a way to go before it is feasible for a live production server.
     16 if I had an interested customer base, I would be able to find the motivation to improve my services to support all major CMSes and web softwares, to spawn a robust ticket and newsletter system, to expand to clearnet hosting, to build a real community and set a precedent for anonymous and secure hosting. sadly, my efforts are now going unnoticed, and it sort of disheartens me that something I spent this much time on has not proven itself to be too useful. I would love to continue putting effort into <q>the best</q> professional shared hosting setup, with proper log monitoring and statistics, tight engagement with customer base and surrounding Tor/I2P community, contribution to free software, and embodiment of free speech. maybe I could have placed effort into decentralised solutions as well, in order for people not to rely on a single entity -- such as myself -- for their web hosting. but apparently I will not end up doing this because there is no demand for it. people are perfectly content with half-assed solutions that we have now, and I cannot for the life of me understand why.
     18 Tags:
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