Unmanaged VPS Beginner: Setting up OS/Nginx/PHP/etc

António P. P. Almeida appa at perusio.net
Thu Sep 30 04:05:50 MSD 2010

On 30 Set 2010 00h19 WEST, bthreesix at gmail.com wrote:

> [1 <multipart/alternative (7bit)>] [1.1 <text/plain; us-ascii
> (quoted-printable)>] I decided to go with an unmanaged VPS but I
> don't understand the basics so I'm a little lost.. right now my
> panel looks like this
> http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/8550/screenshot05c.jpg
> and I did install Debian 5 and Nginx using the "Reinstall OS"
> feature inside the VPS Panel but I'm not sure if I have the latest
> version of Debian 5 or Nginx. I haven't had too much luck in the
> Nginx forum or in the IRC channel so I'm asking here
> My Questions are:
> 1. How do I check the versions of Debian-5 and the Nginx that are
>    installed? If I have to upgrade them, is there anywhere I can go
>    to find out how?

Debian 5. Check the release. The current release number is in

cat /etc/debian_version 

Alternatively, if you have the lsb-release package installed:
lsb_release -d gives you the Debian version, release and codename.
The current is: 5.0.6 (lenny). 

For nginx, if you used the package from Lenny (quite old) you can find
out which package you have installed with: dpkg -s nginx

> 2. After I figure out if i have the latest versions for number 1,
>    how do I install PHP / MySQL / phpMyAdmin?

Get the version from dotdeb is the latest 5.2.x. Or 5.3.x if go that route.


I suggest MariaDB instead of the standard MySQL: http://ourdelta.org/debian

I advise against installing phpmyadmin. There are exploits and holes
being found every other day for it. Instead I suggest you use the
console over SSH.

> 3. How do I add other sites without a control panel?

Create a configuration for each site (virtual host) in
/etc/nginx/sites-available and enable it. Currently Debian has no
script in the nginx package (any version) for emulating the
a2ensite/a2dissite Apache utility. I wrote a small Bash script for
that. It's referenced in the Wiki and also you can get it from

After enabling each host, reload nginx. The new site is up.
> I don't expect 1 person to answer everythin.. I just need help.. its
> been 2 days now and I haven't beena ble to figure anythin out so any
> help at all is appreciated

Check this: http://library.linode.com/

Also run a firewall and secure your machine as much as possible. These
guides have everything you need follow them and you'll be clear from
dangerous dark woods.

--- appa

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