Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Electric Control Cabinet Production Factory
Photo by İsmail Enes Ayhan / Unsplash

Way back in February of 2016 I did a large migration and moved my large server from CentOS 6 to 7. It was a self-inflicted disaster with all fault to myself. My sites had downtime, name-server propagation took days and many folks were upset.

I didn't really have a CentOS 6 box - I had a cPanel CentOS box which changes the system quite massively to the point that I would say its a cPanel box - not CentOS.

So once I was done with that migration I pledged to not touch it again and run CentOS 7 until it was no longer possible. That day is now nearing as June 30, 2024 CentOS 7 will become End of Life (EOL).

Now a lot has changed in the ecosystem and myself since 2016 to have a differing opinion on this. First off, I'm way better at managing Linux servers than I was in 2016. Simply put I feel way more comfortable triaging and building out configurations than I did about a decade ago.

However, one big thing is still in the equation which is cPanel. A tool I first encountered when buying shared hosting and something I became familiar with a long time ago.

In mid 2019 though cPanel decided to redo pricing in an extreme way - they moved from server based billing to account based billing. This meant in absolute basic terms that my yearly bill of $170 went to $360. This was a bit upsetting, but I realized they had me in a choke-hold. I couldn't migrate off a cPanel box without a good deal of effort and it was easier to eat the cost and ignore it.

Though, I'm a bit torn on the price hike there. Of course the web servers of the 2000s were different than 20 years later. A per server billing agreement was quite abused when some powerful servers in modern times could easily hold hundreds of accounts. Especially when you consider load balancing and many servers/containers in place - a rate per server in an era of containers is an odd thing to tally up.

However, I didn't see that in the moment - all I saw was a new private equity investment of Oakley Capital coming in and acquiring cPanel. With what has become common in the industry - when PE money comes in - the price goes up or the product collapses. Not to mention it was the most abrupt pricing change with zero advance notice and no honoring of older pricing plans.


So I realized my time on cPanel was going to come to an end. I set in my head that once CentOS 8 was released and had a few months to stabilize - I was going to rip out cPanel and swap CentOS 7 to 8 and do things manually with the help of Ansible.

That plan was quickly over when Red Hat pretty much destroyed the CentOS I was tracking. That drama itself could be its own post, but when the dust had settled CentOS had been terminated (2020).

So I was back in an odd situation as Red Hat just moved the EOL date of CentOS up by 8 years and introduced CentOS Stream as a replacement. I was a bit hesitant to get onboard with something that was free today, but maybe not tomorrow. Even if I fit under the limits to qualify as free usage - it just seemed like something that may not be free in the future. So when all associated products were costing more than the hardware itself - it was time to plan.

So my new long-term goal was to shutdown projects that I didn't want to pay for anymore and split sites to containers/servers that were without cPanel. This has been a difficult journey, but I'm down to 11 sites from 25 on the cPanel box. I wish that was discount, but cPanel's tiers are:

  1. 1 - Solo
  2. 5 - Admin
  3. 30 - Pro
  4. 100 - Premier
  5. 100+ Custom

So I've always been on the Pro plan and doesn't look like I can drop any pricing until I've down to the last few accounts.

https://cpanel.net/pricing/ (2023)

Of course these migrations of moving 14 sites occurred over 18 months and throughout those times we've had 2 price hikes with cPanel.

Now instead of $30 a month, I pay $39.99 a month which is basically $480 a year. This is way more than the $120 a year I used to pay. cPanel continues to push the price forward and I wish I could see some marginal improvements in the product, but my SSL continues to break for some "known issue" still being triaged after a year.

So now I have Rocky Linux, Alma Linux, Debian, Ubuntu and more to pick from for building out some remaining servers. I want to use containers more or even utilize AWS, but without a price ceiling I'm pretty nervous to leave Linode.

Akamai Technologies Completes Acquisition of Linode to Provide Businesses with a Developer-friendly and Massively Distributed Platform to Build, Run and Secure Applications

So I got pretty nervous again when Akamai acquired Linode as I knew changes would be inbound. Sure enough exactly 1 year later price updates came out to increase nearly all Linode prices. This is already not the Linode I remember.

The Linode I remember would decrease costs and increase the resources of your existing plan for $0. They did it consistently throughout a decade of hosting. Now they are upping the prices under the clause of improved cloud experiences, but honestly nothing that directly impacts me.

It seems I either just become a ranting mess or 3 things (CentOS, Linode & cPanel) I once depended on and appreciated are changing for the worse. It'll take me a bit longer to migrate the last ~10 sites, but when I'm done hopefully I'll be set for another decade.

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