Cloudways Introduces Debian 8 on Its Managed Cloud Platform

by Pere Hospital  February 16, 2016

The cloud engineers here at Cloudways have just completed the integration of Debian 8 operating system on the Cloudways Platform. Now, users can enjoy the additional features of Debian 8 over the previous version. Every new server launched on Cloudways since Feb 9th, will have Debian 8 as the default operating system. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of the new operating system deployed on the Cloudways Hosting Platform.

Debian 8 “Jessie” (Who doesn’t love Toy Story?) is known for its stability. It is free, and has a thriving community around it. The 8th iteration of the operating system is said to be a giant leap forward due to many new features. Let us get down to what you can expect from your new servers with Debian 8.

Software improvements

Apache 2.4 is the default version for Apache on Debian 8. On the backend, that brings lots of core enhancements, new modules, and existing modules’ enhancements. But, as a Cloudways Managed Hosting customer, you don’t have to deal with this stuff. What is important is that this version of Apache uses far less memory, and is significantly faster than previous versions.

Additionally, Varnish Cache 4 also works well with Debian 8. This cache significantly speeds up your website.

Benchmarking

Cloudways engineers have extensively tested the performance of Cloudways Debian 8 servers as compared with Cloudways Debian 7 servers.

The tests have been performed on Debian 8 and new PHP versions (including 7) and results are outstanding. Tests have been done with a Magento site, without Varnish running (to really stress server resources) and with up to 250 concurrent users in one minute. Here you have the results.

Previous Cloudways Stack (Debian 7, PHP 5.5, Apache 2.2 with Varnish Disabled)

Hits 46
Average Response Time 4.67s
Timeouts 76%

Debian 7 Response Time

 

New Cloudways Stack (Debian 8, PHP 5.6, Apache 2.4 with Varnish Disabled)

Hits 182
Average Response Time 4.04s
Timeouts 33%

Debian 8 Response Time

 

New Cloudways Stack (Debian 8, PHP 7-RC6, Apache 2.4, OPcache with Varnish Disabled)

Hits 506
Average Response Time 2.71s
Timeouts 0%

benchmark3

Application changes

Apart from the significant shift from Debian 7 to Debian 8, users should expect some changes at the application level as well. For example, let us consider Magento Ecommerce solution. With Debian 7, Cloudways was using PageCache as the caching solution for Magento. However, on the newer Debian 8 servers, Cloudways is using Turpentine for Varnish integration.

The reason we have switched the cache extension is that the PageCache developers have not been regularly updating their product. Whereas, Turpentine has an active and thriving community and regular updates for the users.  You can read more about it here.

Limitations

Of course, there are some limitations and compatibility issues with this move from Debian 7 to Debian 8 on the Cloudways Platform. PHP versions 5.4 and 5.5 are not supported anymore. The version 5.4 of PHP is now considered obsolete for most use cases, and developers are advised to upgrade their PHP apps. Although 5.5 is still used by many applications, it is better to deploy version 5.6 for cloud web hosting that should be mostly compatible with 5.5.

MariaDB 5.5 is also not available as a database option. MariaDB 10.0, MySQL 5.5 (default) and MySQL 5.6 are your database options on Cloudways Debian 8 servers. Again, using MariaDB 10.0 brings you advantages of enhanced security and faster performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

I bet you have some questions. Let me answer some of the most important ones. If you have any further queries, the Cloudways chat support team will be happy to answer them.

1- Will my existing servers be upgraded to Debian 8 and when?

Answer: No, existing servers won’t be upgraded to Debian 8 anytime soon. You can (and we advise to) migrate your applications to NEW servers with Debian 8 though and take advantage of improvements listed above.

2- If I clone my existing server, will it have Debian 8 and upgrade my PHP 5.4 based website to PHP 5.6 ?

  • In case of server cloning, same as source Debian version will be used, e.g Debian 7 will be cloned to Debian 7 and the same for Debian 8.
  • In case of application clone (to a new server), Debian 8 will be used and as will be the case for PHP 5.6 which will be available.

3- Any improvement in CPU and memory usage?

  • Overall it should perform better than Debian 7. In particular, the adoption of Apache 2.4 which performs better than 2.2 (Debian 7) and uses slightly less amount of resources (memory in particular).

Hang on Tight for PHP 7

The next big task for our engineers at Cloudways is to bring you PHP 7. Yes, we know this is important for your websites, and we’re working on it full time. We are targeting a release date prior to the end of February.

Well, there you have it. Debian 8 is now your default OS on the Cloudways Managed Hosting Platform. We will continue to implement improvements and changes based on the feedback of our customers. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment below. You can also launch your free trial to experience blazing fast, ultra reliable cloud hosting on Debian 8 operating system.

 

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About Pere Hospital

Pere Hospital (CISSP & OSCP) is the CTO and co-founder of Cloudways Ltd. He has over two decades of experience in IT Security, Risk Analysis and Virtualization Technologies. You can follow Pere on Twitter at @phospital and read his blog at www.perehospital.cat

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  • Brian O’Neill

    All sounds great. When php 7 goes live it would be great if you could do a blog with the best wordpress configuration. Eg should we be using redis? With all your caching do we still need the W3TC plugin etc.

    Many users plan to migrate to debian 8 so it would be great to have a guide to the best configuration options.

  • DlipSam76

    This is happiest news in 2016 so far. Can’t wait for PHP 7! Will this be part of my WordPress on a fresh install on a new server?