I have, for years, been developing web apps and so on using ASP (Classic) on IIS.  It’s a “fine” platform, but I have, over time, become weary of the Microsoft bloat that accompanies running a Windows Server… Especially in a colo/dedicated/VPS environment.

Over the last few months, since my major GoDaddy Windows Dedicated servers got hit by a worm or something, I’ve seriously started learning PHP with MySQL.  I used MySQL quite a bit with ASP and am quite familiar with it, but PHP experience was rather limited.  In the last few weeks, I’ve written a few things and ported a customer’s website over from an ASP CMS I wrote to PHP (still need to finish the CMS in PHP).  The site runs so much faster and I am now able to host it on my new Slice VPS that I setup earlier this month.  In 15 minutes or so, I can have an entire new Slice setup with Apache or Lighttpd and PHP/MySQL and, with a little tweaking and securing, have a server up and serving sites.   Can’t do that with Windows that quickly.

Slice is still running strong and I’m going to do my best to get ALL my ASP sites “ported” over to PHP over the next few months.  I’ve been using ASP/PHP cross reference sites like Design 215 and a few others and have been able to do things very quickly.  The database part was the only part I really needed to find good samples  for, but they aren’t even too hard once you use them a few times.

SliceHost has inspired me to really learn Linux and abandon the Microsoft OS, but there is still one caveat to Linux that I am very disappointed with.  There is not a single (that I’ve found), reasonably priced, multi-domain, domain level administratable email server with a nice webmail interface for users and administrative functions.

I know there are a ton of “pieces” that I can put together to get something like that, like Postfix, EXIM4, Dovecat, etc., but I just simply don’t have the time to wade through the massive pile of config files to get all those pieces working together in a nice secure and highly reliable fashion.

So, I am going to continue moving all my websites over to Linux/Apache/Lighttpd/PHP/MySQL and keep a small (30gb, 768mb RAM) Windows Virtual Dedicated server running with SmarterMail 5.x mail server on it. SmarterMail is probably one of the BEST email servers for a web hosting environment.  It is a snap to setup, backup and move to a new server if needed (Trust me, I know!). I already own an Enterprise license and am just waiting for one last very important domain to move off a temporary dedicated server before I move it to a new Windows VPS to serve the remainder of my customer’s email needs.  SliceHost isn’t a fully “managed” solution, but with the Slice Backup capability, you can have daily and weekly images made and restore to them quickly at anytime in case anything happens…

Mosso is good and is finally rectifying the Compute Cycle issue I mentioned previously,  I may keep them if I can break even with the few sites I still host on there, but their servers aren’t nearly as responsive as a VPS or Dedicated server probably due to the massively clustered setup they run.  I don’t really need individual site scalability… If a site has high requirements, I’ll just stick them on a new slice and charge the customer accordingly.  Most of my sites that would need to scale are WordPress Blogs and could easily handle being Digg’ed etc, by installing WP-Supercache.

Ultimately I plan on hosting all websites and blogs on Ubuntu 8.04 @ SliceHost and email on a Windows VPS @ GoDaddy (for now) until I find a Windows VPS provider as excellent as SliceHost is (hint hint to SliceHost)…

That’s all for now…

If anyone knows of any turn-key type mail servers that are free/inexpensive (< $500) for Linux please leave a comment.