Why I hate my iPhone 5!

December 6th, 2012

Ever since I purchased my first Macbook Pro about 6 years ago I have been a stalwart Apple supporter. I have always loved Apple products. That is why it is somewhat hard for me to write this blog post.

I have purchased every single iPhone that has come out. Every one of my spoiled children has an iPhone (usually my old ones). So what is the problem you ask?

Jailbreaking! I love the iPhone, but only if it can be jailbroken. The latest iPhone does not have a publicly available jailbreak at this time. Jailbreaking allows me to use the phone in the manner that is best for me. I realize that most iPhone users like the phone the way it is, but I can’t stand to use the phone anymore because of all the little things that drive me crazy.

Here is a list of several of the little things that are important to me that most other users wouldn’t care about.

1 – Sbsettings to change the brightness, turn on/off wifi, etc with a single swipe.
2 – Calendar on the lock screen. Come on Apple? Is this really a weird request?
3 – Triple press the start button from the lock screen to go directly to my flashlight app.
4 – Tethering the right way!
5 – Constantly vibrate inbound text messages every minute until I acknowledge them (I don’t have great hearing).
6 – Change the default browser to Chrome
7 – News, twitter, Facebook updates from the lock screen
8 – SSH Access – Yes I run perl scripts on my iPhone sometimes for fun :)

There are many more, but those are some of the main ones. These seem like little things, but they are big enough to get me to switch phones. I think Apple is making a HUGE mistake if they underestimate the importance of customization through jailbreaking. I know Apple wants total control. I realize they have an obligation to their carriers to keep the phone locked down, but I personally don’t care about carriers or Apple’s lockdown policies. I simply want a phone that works for me. And right now that isn’t the iPhone.

Matt Heaton / CEO BetterLinux.com / BetterServers.com

BetterLinux Released!

July 19th, 2012

BetterLinux software was officially released at Hostingcon 2012. What is BetterLinux you ask? Its a new software product that does what its name implies. It makes linux better by allowing a system administrator to be in complete control of the linux system.

You no longer have to let out of control cpu or disk I/O intensive processes take your system down or slow down other users or more important processes. You can also set alarms that tell you when certain processes or users exceed specified cpu, I/O, memory, processes limits, and many other system activities.

Database admins will be especially pleased to know that BetterLinux can now detect and deal with abusive MySQL queries so that no individual MySQL users/dbs can negatively impact the performance of any server running our software.

Whether you are on a shared server, a VPS (Virtual private server), a dedicated server, or a cloud server it doesn’t matter. We will make your over utilization of system resources problem go away!

In addition, as cloud server usage continues to erode the traditional shared/dedicated server markets it becomes imperative to guarantee network storage I/O speeds. BetterLinux can do that for you. Our software works from the lowliest thumb drive to the fastest SAN network storage. Now you have the ability to set IOPs (I/O operations per second) or exact disk bandwidth limits per user or per process. You can also allow bursting to ensure that 100% of the cpu and disks are utilized if you would like it be. It also works great for local storage, network attached and virtual network devices such as NFS, ISCSI, etc. LVM is 100% supported as well.

We are so excited to finally be releasing BetterLinux. This multi-year project has been the passion of many people. Please help us to make the product as good as it can possibly be! Try it free until 2013.

Visit BetterLinux.com

Matt Heaton / CEO BetterLinux

It’s been a blast!!! Now its time to move on…

June 12th, 2011

As I think back over the last 8 years, while I sit in my cubby in my bedroom, a big smile comes to my face. I can’t even begin to mention all the crazy things that have gone on in the Bluehost offices. Bluehost grew from a 4 person company to a 300 person company over the last eight years . Yet, somehow we managed to keep it fun and stay reasonably focused on just one thing – Shared Web Hosting.

It was the singularity of that goal to provide the best shared web hosting that we could that was the most important ingredient to our success. We never tried to be everything to everybody and that is why it worked. When competitors saw other opportunities and took their eye off the ball we stayed focused.

As I look to the future of where Bluehost needs to go and how it will get there I don’t know that I can be the one to continue to provide that kind of focus. I am 100% a techie through and though. Being a techie means that I am distracted by shiny new things :) Lately, I have had a lot of interest in lower level linux kernel system development. I have also built a data center that is now operational. In addition, for whatever reason I have become obsessed with building out/trading dark fibre to create my own nationwide and worldwide fibre network.

While the pursuit of all of those businesses can greatly benefit Bluehost, Hostmonster, and Fastdomain with lower costs, improved speeds, and greater reliability those goals also can’t coexist with my responsibility as CEO of Bluehost and Hostmonster.

To that end, this blog post will serve as my public resignation as CEO of Bluehost Inc and Hostmonster Inc. I am assigning myself to become a system architect within the company and will continue to work on the design and technical structure of our hosting platform. Dan Handy, our current COO, will take my place as CEO of Bluehost Inc and Hostmonster Inc. In reality Dan Handy has already been filling this responsibility for the past several months. This announcement is simply formalizing an already existing situation. Dan Handy is great and Bluehost is very lucky to have him. He brings structure, organization, and order from the chaos that tends to surround me. I can’t thank him enough for that!

I love Bluehost. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this company. I won’t let it fail. To this end, I have reserved enough control that when a few heads need to be knocked around to get important things done that I can still be the one doing the knocking if need be.

Lastly, I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of our customers. Sometimes we did a great job, sometimes we fell apart, but you stuck with us through all of it and made us one of the most successful hosting companies on the planet. You are the reason I get 4 hours of sleep each night. I hate the thought of disappointing you, and have always tried to do my best to live up to your expectations. THANK YOU!!!

This blog will continue on so that I can do some shameless marketing for some of my new ventures and continue to ramble on about technological changes and innovations, but I will change the link on our sites to read, “Founder’s Blog”, instead of “CEO Blog”. So if for some strange reason you have desire to visit again there will be some new content :) Thank you all. It was a privilege and an honor.

Matt Heaton / Founder Bluehost.com / Hostmonster.com / Fastdomain.com

New Data Center Up And Running!

March 8th, 2011

Its been many months since I last wrote on my blog – I apologize for that. Its been a very busy few months, but perhaps I can settle into a routine and write a little more often. I am writing today to finally announce that our new data center is up and going! Its the first data center that I have built and we did *MANY* things that are very nonstandard as far as cooling and power management. It really is a great to see it finally come to fruition and get some use. I thought you might be interested in a few facts about our new data center.

– Approximately 12,000 sq ft in size
– 4.7 Megawatts of power available for use
– 720 tons of cooling capacity installed (Can you say windtunnel!!)
– Actually uses 100% outside air cooling for about 7.5 months per year (At significant power savings!!!)
– 20488 U of total server space – (Total of 394 8′ cabinets full of computer equip)
– 300,000 CFM of heat exhaustion out the roof (More important to get hot air out than cold air in!)
– 2x 2 Megawatt generators (Room available to add a 3rd 2 megawatt generator)
– 4x 750 KW UPS (Plus an addition pair on the outer edge if we end up needing it)
– Has capacity to deliver up to 15 KW of power per cabinet with proper cooling ready to go :)
– 36″ raised floor across the entire datacenter
– 4 separate physical fibre lines brought directly into building through two diverse entrances with access to all major IP/transit providers
– Keycard/Hand scanner access for each hot aisle and each cold aisle as well as cameras for each aisle
– Complete isolation of hot and cold aisles
– Variable on the fly settings/tunables for exhaust fans, supply fans, heat exchanges (To heat up the air when outside air is too cold), chiller pumps, CRAC units. Everything literally adjusts itself every 30 seconds automatically so that you never pay for too much cooling and never cool air when its less expensive to use outside air. Its really an AMAZING system!
– $8.5 million to build (An existing outer building) – That is actually really inexpensive for the capacity/features we got out of it! Thanks to Noel for getting the price so low and under budget! The engineers told us it would be impossible to build for the price we wanted – to them I say šŸ˜›

I really need to go in and take some pictures to show how it works. I know most of you just want your hosting to work better and I promise this new data center will help uptimes be better!

The data center is actually not owned by Bluehost/Hostmonster. I built this to be a separate business entity completely. Bluehost/Hostmonster actually only take 25% of the total capacity of this data center. I guess what I am saying is that if you need data center space give me a call! We have 15,000 U available right now in a brand new data center. We also sell bandwidth for very very inexpensive prices and never make you sign a long term contract. You can buy 500 megs or 20 gigs of bandwidth a month with no commitment at all on bandwidth or term. Who else does that?

Now that its done I find myself wondering how big the next one will be? If this one goes well I would like to build a 75,000 ft facility. I think I already found the land for it :)

Matt Heaton / Founder Bluehost.com/Hostmonster.com

CPU and I/O Segregation is finally sellableā€¦

November 13th, 2010

At Bluehost/Hostmonster we have been developing some really neat tools to segregate cpu, disk I/O, and memory. Here is a link to one of my blog posts in the past that describes what we have worked on in detail.

Up to now we haven’t really been able to sell this product because it was simply too difficult to make it work in most company environments. It required a custom kernel patch, significant system knowledge, and really just required too much effort on our part to make it work well in other scenarios other than our own. However, those days are quickly coming to an end.

Now that Redhat has finally released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 we have a “stable” kernel with which to release kernel RPMs. Redhat, and most other server/enterprise Linux distributions (Such as SUSE) have settled on 2.6.32 as their baseline kernel for their server product offerings. This is a very workable kernel for our feature set and allows us to make implementing our cpu, i/o, and memory management tools extremely easy.

We currently have a backlog of several hundred companies that have expressed interest in these products. I am sorry it has taken so long, but it was absolutely necessary that we had a standardized kernel newer than 2.6.30.

To be very clear, in order to use our products you will need to be running RHEL (Redhat Enterprise Linux) 6.0 or greater or SUSE Enterprise Linux 11 or newer.

We will most likely set up our own repository for these products as well as a free respin of the RHEL 6.x distribution compiled from source minus the Redhat trademarks (Think CentOS without the 2-3 week delay that often accompanies new releases). The 6.x distribution will be free for anyone and everyone as well as any updates, etc. I am willing to provide whatever bandwidth, servers and personnel are necessary to keep us within 24 hours of all of Redhat’s updates.

Thanks to those that have waited patiently, as well as those that were a little agitated :) We will very soon have a product for you to use!

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Wordcamp Utah!! Come join us!

August 27th, 2010

WordCamp Utah is coming up this weekend Saturday August 28th from 9am-5pm. For more information about the event visit: http://2010.utah.wordcamp.org. BlueHost does not normally sponsor events or setup booths at tradeshows mainly because its too much of a hassle just to try and get your name out there :) WordPress on the other hand is one of our favorite and most popular open source products available. Over 650,000 WordPress blogs are hosted on our servers and that number grows by hundreds per day.

The keynote speaker at this event is Matt Mullenweg who is the founding developer of WordPress. There are also a number of great learning sessions that can help you get started or enhance your current web presence using this amazing FREE tool. See the full schedule at: http://2010.utah.wordcamp.org/schedule/ for more information on the speakers and sessions that will be available.

Also, BlueHost is buying lunch for EVERY attendee, and we want that bill to be HUGE. So if you haven’t signed up for the event yet go register now at: http://wordcamputah2010.eventbrite.com/ and make sure to stop by and say “Hi!”. I’d love to meet some Bluehost customers in person!

Matt Heaton

Pingpong Challenge!

July 19th, 2010

Its Hostingcon time again this year. This year its in Austin, Texas. Its nice to see all the email addresses actually
have a real person associated with them :)

Every year that I attend I run into Jack from Parallels. Jack is Parallels #2 guy. A few years back I challenged
Jack to a pingpong match. Now, I think that I am pretty good at pingpong, but Jack beat me by 2 points in the 5th
game a few years back. I am now trying to use my blog to get Jack to play one more match! So what will it be
Jack? A rematch :) If you beat me I will get up publicly say that I think Parallels way of doing things is better than
Bluehost!! What could be better than that? Don’t tell me a Parallels guy is scared of little ole Bluehost :)


New Projects And Some Fun Stats

July 10th, 2010

Hello again! Its been quite a while since I have written and I thought its about time I got around to updating you on some of the new things we have been working on lately.

Some of you may know that in addition to shared hosting I have several other small/big projects that I like to work on in my spare (haha) time. I’d like to tell you quickly about some of those and then briefly mention a few changes to Bluehost and perhaps a couple of interesting stats about our business.

1st – Fibre Network – I have been working hard trying to piece together our own nationwide (Soon worldwide) fibre network. This becomes an integral part of some of my other projects that I am investing my time in. We will have a robust peering network with many tier 2 participants and hopefully soon (With enough bullying on my part) a tier 1 provider or two! The first part of this project linking Los Angeles to New York will be live by the end of this month (Hurray!!)

2) SUPER COOL caching service (Think CDN – Content distribution network). This one is kind of hard to explain, even to those in the business. We have a fundamentally different way of implementing internet edge caching servers that I think will change completely how the game is played. Look for this stuff to be out in about 6-7 months. Akamai – I know you have a $7.5 billion market cap, but our technology is better :) Keep a close watch on what we have coming out. We are gunning for all your business!

3) CPUD – I/O Throttled: These two technologies are what allow us to provide VPS like services in a shared hosting environment. They will work on any linux box with a 2.6.32 kernel and above. They were developed almost exclusively in house and work extremely well. We haven’t sold this to any company because of the difficulty in making it work with older kernels, but all that will change when Red Hat releases version 6.0 of the RHEL distribution. Once Red Hat releases that version we will offer a simply RPM install of our product and everyone will finally be able to purchase this product! Sorry to the over 125 companies on the waiting list for this product – It will be out soon!

4) New Premium Data Center – We have been working on our new data center for a while now. It is scheduled to be done in December, but its looking like January 2011 will probably be the real date. Its not huge by data center standards, but it will give us 5 megawatts of power for 400 cabinets (47U each). It uses a VERY nonstandard cooling system designed by us in house which will save us a ton of money on cooling costs, and is located right in our office building where all our employees are located. This ensures best quality service for all our customers.

5) Quick Backup – we have a very cool backup product that is also developed in house. It uses custom kernel mods to enable an extremely fast backup process for our Cpanel customer servers. What used to take us 10 hours to accomplish now takes about 45 minutes. It is a complete drop in replacement for Cpanel’s backup system that is totally compatible with their restore process, but uses about 1/3 the space that normal Cpanel requires. We are using it live right now on about 60% of our servers and only need some additional hardware to put it in place in 100% of our network (Happening right now).

6) I guess I should mention that the old Bluehost.com main site has FINALLY been replaced with something decent. It was never that great to begin with and had morphed over time into a complete mess. That being said, it had great search engine rankings and helped us sign up more than 575,000 accounts! But alas, I am sad to see it go :) Its been like an old friend these past 7 years!

7) Oh, I forgot to mention this. I wanted to announce when we finally hit 2 million domains hosted. I got lazy and never mentioned it, but now we are almost at 2.2 million domains. So lets this be my official announcement that we are now *officially* over 2.15 million domains hosted! Yeah!

8) We are now (I guess we have been for awhile) the 5th fastest growing registrar in the world. For those that are wondering what a registrar is it is an ICANN accredited company that sells domain names. Whats interesting about this is that you can’t even purchase a domain name from us unless you are a hosting customer. So to be the 5th fastest growing is quite an achievement given the requirements we place on the customer.

9) We are now the 10th largest hosting company in the world. Yeah! And 2nd or 1st fastest growing hosting company.

10) We have now surpassed Yahoo in domains hosted and hosting accounts. I’ve heard of Yahoo? I think they are one of the bigger internet companies :)

11) We FINALLY got a very nice front desk in our main office. Long live the plastic table that we used for the past 18 months :)

There you have it. Those are all my significant technology related activities as well as a few interesting stats about Bluehost. Thanks to everyone out there that has made Bluehost/Hostmonster/Fastdomain possible. We appreciate all you do for us and hope to live up to your expectations as a hosting company!

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Microsoft – So long my friendā€¦

May 2nd, 2010

As many of you know I haven’t been the biggest Microsoft supporter :) Its been a really bumpy road using Microsoft products over the past 20 years. The consistently buggy software, and the security nightmare that is Windows/Internet Explorer is so flawed that I don’t think its possible to “fix” at this point without a fundamental change to the lowest levels of the OS.

About 4 years ago I switched all my desktop use to Mac OSX. I love it. And although I believe it is superior to Windows in almost every way (Especially the MACH Kernel) I didn’t really care what we used at Bluehost/Hostmonster/Fastdomain for our office/support computers.

Those days of ignorant bliss are now totally gone. We literally can no longer tolerate Windows in our corporate network. What you say? I know this sounds strange as corporate America is a stalwart Windows using market, but I’ll say it again. We can’t tolerate Windows anymore. It is simply too high a risk. It is UNSECURABLE.

Now I know right now that there are going to be lots of readers that write back saying, “If you know what you are doing then Windows is easy to secure. Only people that aren’t technical enough to do things right get infected.” Uh huh. There are so many zero day vulnerabilities with Windows that I simply can’t keep our network secure. In addition, because of the type of business we are in we are constantly the target of malicious activity directed at our network. We have to protect ourselves, and running Windows feels like bringing a plastic knife to gun fight when it comes to security.

So now the vast majority of employees at Bluehost/Hostmonster/Fastdomain run Linux in an LDAP environment (Support, Abuse, Admins, etc). We have several Macs throughout the office and will be adding many more in the near future. We do have some Windows machines (Quarantined from the rest of our network completely) that are used for testing, and a couple that are still used for accounting purposes, but even most of those are just virtual machines running Windows.

I’m not saying Linux, and Mac OSX aren’t susceptible to viruses or malware, but its so much less that its not even close. Its strange to me that most businesses just accept the fact that their machines will be infected with Malware and that they will just clean it off with the latest scan of their computer. Are you ok with your passwords, personal data, and financial information just flowing out to owners of various botnets? Are you fine to have an army of your office machines sending out spam in the background all day long while you wonder why your internet connection is slow? Clearly the answer for most businesses is yes. I guess after 20 years of Microsoft usage most people are just beaten into submission that computing has to be this way – but it doesn’t have to be. There are alternatives, and we are using them. I hope many of you reading today will consider some of the alternatives.

Matt Heaton

A BIG speed and stability improvement!

March 25th, 2010

We have worked so much lately on many internals to our hosting platform. Sometimes I worry that our customers think we are standing still when they don’t see a lot of outward/customer facing changes. However, we have been feverishly working on improving the overall stability and speed of our platform.

We have nailed down CPU overages, memory overages, and disk i/o bottlenecks (i/o was the hardest one btw). We have delved deep into the dark art of linux process scheduling and have come away mostly unscathed :)

All of this backend work has made a tremendous difference to our customers, but now we have something new to announce. MySQL process scheduling protection. I know what you are thinkingā€¦ That doesn’t sound exciting at all, but to us computer nerds its a big deal!

Basically a single rouge php/perl/ruby script utilizing MySQL can consume all the resources on a server and never even show up as using much CPU at all. I have written test scripts that consume less than 1% of the total “cpu time” yet leave a machine with 16 cores with 0% idle time on all cpu/cores and thousands of backed up processes. I can replicate this on virtually every hosting company that I have test accounts on (And I have a LOT of test accounts on competitor’s servers). This isn’t a rare thing that happens. Its VERY common, and many popular plugins for WordPress and phpBB cause this to happen very frequently.

Surely something like this wouldn’t be allowed to happen in a mature multiuser environment such as Linux! When I first discovered this bug I didn’t think it was wide spread. After running MANY tests and spending a lot of near sleepless nights proving my theories I discovered that it was happening hundreds of times per hour for short periods of time across all our servers. This causes short delays (Usually 5-60 seconds) that are very very difficult to track down after the fact.

The issue really is with MySQL itself, but it also is because of a serious design flaw in the current linux process scheduler. I am intentionally being vague on the specifics of the problem because I feel the fix we have developed will give us a substantial competitive advantage. Without question we will at some point in the future release this code to the community, but for now we will continue to use it in house to the benefit of our loyal customer base.

This speed and stability fix will impact directly (In a negative way – meaning that coding problems will have to be fixed on the customers side before their sites become usable) about 400 customers out of 547,000 (At the time of this blog post). Indirectly, everyone else will benefit greatly because it literally makes the difference for many of our servers from being 0% idle (Totally overworked) and 50% idle.

It is not yet live on our production environment (Except in a few controlled cases), but will be completely live on our system by approximately Wednesday of next week (March 31st, 2010).

Don’t expect a huge change, but certainly expect and demand stability from us as your hosting provider. Just remember that when you don’t have slowdowns and problems it’s NOT by chance. We kill ourselves trying to make Bluehost/Hostmonster the best shared hosting on the planet. We think we have succeeded, but if you don’t think so then the job we are doing isn’t good enough. Either way we will continue to do our best to solve the biggest issues as we see them. Thanks again for your business and your encouragement.

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com