Plesk is now available on Linode: Here’s how to install it

install Plesk on Linode

Cloud companies like Linode are revolutionizing how businesses reach their customers today. Digitizing painful old processes, allowing them more time to focus on what they really care about – making their products unique. This is why we have Plesk on Linode. Now let’s talk about how to install Plesk on Linode too.

As a Web Professional, your goal is to provide highly available and scalable services to your customers. You want to be able to focus on what you’re good at. Forget the nitty-gritty technical server management, cost-streamlining, running of instances, backups, and account management. These tasks are for the  virtual private server, designed precisely for this purpose. If you’re tired of managing infrastructure and security when you just want to focus on improving your product/service, Plesk Obsidian is the solution. Now for the infrastructure…

What’s Linode?

Linode is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider

Linode is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider company based in New Jersey, US. Linode offers multiple products and services for its clients. Its flagship products are IaaS solutions with multiple VM sizes at different price points billed hourly.

Additionally, Linode Backup allows customers to back up their servers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Linode Manager and NodeBalancer both allow users to manage multiple server instances across a single system.

You can learn more about Linode here.

Getting started with Plesk on Linode

First, please review the Software Requirements for Plesk to find what Linux distributions are supported by Plesk.

  1. Then, log into your Linode Account and click on “One-Click Apps”. If you don’t have one, you need to create one first.
Plesk Linode 1

2. In the middle of the page, click on “Plesk”

linode plesk

3. Then scroll down to choose some options based on your needs:

    1. You need to define a domain name for your server. This should be in the format yourserver.yourdomain.com . This is only going to be active after your point your DNS to the virtual machine but is a requirement for a successful deployment.
    2. Select an operating system of your choice. You can currently choose the latest CentOS and Ubuntu versions. Which one is best for you is a matter of choice and there are no limitations of Plesk independent of what you are going to use.
    3. Select a Region of your choice. Depending on where you or your customers’ websites are, select the datacenter region that you may need. Usually, it’s recommended to choose the closest location to where the majority of your website visitors are coming from to avoid any performance delays.
plesk linode 3

4. Afterwards, scroll down further and select the size of your virtual machine. Plesk runs smoothly on a small virtual machine. However, it highly depends on your setup and how many websites you plan to run on a single virtual machine. Please also refer to this guide for details.

linode plesk 4

5. Scroll down again and define further options. The Linode Label and “Add Tags” are optional things. Here, you’ll need to set a root password, which you will need to remember for later 😉

Further Optional Add-ons are optional and up to you whether to use them or not. Then click “Create” on the right side.

plesk linode 5

6. The Plesk Stack Script asks you to fill in basic information. Which will start the Plesk configuration, install a temporary license key and let you to login. All without needing an SSH to generate a password afterwards. Because you can define it upfront.

Leave all the other settings as default.

plesk linode 6

7. You should see this or a similar screen in your browser after you pressed enter in the browser. Click on “Login to Plesk”.

plesk linode 7

8. You can safely ignore the “insecure” message after you pressed “Login to Plesk”. The reason is that unless your chosen domain name for the server has no SSL certificate assigned, this message will stay. You can do this later for free using a Let’s Encrypt certificate inside the Plesk configuration.

Then use the user “root” as your username and the password that you defined inside the Linode interface earlier. Click “Log in”.

linode plesk 8

9. You can then enter a few more details to set up the server. And a password for the login with the “admin” username. You can then use that login to access Plesk instead of using root and the root-password. We highly recommend that if you’re accessing the virtual machine through the terminal, you only use the root access.

You can either use a trial license for Plesk or check out our Plesk licenses to enjoy its full capabilities.

Enter the activation code you receive in your Plesk order and “Enter Plesk”.

linode plesk 9

10. Welcome! After a few more seconds of initialization, you can now add your first domain and/or website. If you need more details, we also suggest checking out our documentation or Plesk University where we have free courses available.

plesk linode 10

Recently, we even launched a free Udemy course on how to get started with Plesk on Linode. So you can get your first website up and running in no time. In the meantime, we’re available if you need any additional support. Or if you want to be part of our growing Facebook Community Group. Give us a knock and we’ll let you in. Happy Plesking on Linode!

#6 reasons why you need to update Plesk now

Six reasons why you need to upgrade your Plesk today - Plesk

After New Year, I was sitting in an airport cafe far from home and work, waiting to board. Suddenly, my meditative state of mind was interrupted by two IT-looking guys who, I guess because of my branded hoodie and backpack, asked me if I worked for Plesk. So naturally we got to talking and it turned out that they worked in a small firm using Plesk to manage web projects. As I was the first company employee they had encountered, I ended up listening to their piled-up claims against Plesk.

The same old excuses

It was clear they used an outdated version – Plesk 17.0 on a CentOS server. And their argument for this was the same old “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. They bought, launched, configured, and started using. They feared the latest version carried unnecessary problems as new products offer not only new functions, but also new bugs. Because of this, some don’t take the risk. Others don’t know how to update Plesk properly; and others have no clue that new versions are available.

Mind you, I can understand these reasons for not updating, however, they don’t outweigh the advantages of using the latest product versions. Luckily there was still plenty of time until my boarding announcement, so I started argument by going through their complaints.

Reason #1: Better Backup Storage

Reasons to update your Plesk - better backup and cloud storage - Plesk
To create and store backups in cloud storage, just install the corresponding extensions.

It’s essential for them to have a stable, reliable backup system to work on their web projects. The guys mentioned using a remote FTP server for this, however, it was unstable and they sometimes had issues during backing up or restoration. FTP server service and maintenance also required extra resources. So, I prepared my first argument – that with the latest Plesk, they could use cloud storage for backups.

Not just any cloud providers either, but industry giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or even DigitalOcean. They tick off important criteria like security, redundancy, affordability and flexibility. They can easily set up scheduled backups and store them at one time in Google Drive and at another in Amazon S3. So they no longer need to spend resources on their FTP server for storing backups. However, the guys still shook their heads so I went on to my next reason.

Reason #2: Improved Website and Server Performance

“Do you find your websites’ performance important?” I asked, “And what are you currently doing to speed things up?” The guys eagerly explained how they spend all their working hours on that. Tinkering with the server via CLI, picking the required parameters, testing various caching-speeding plugins, and so on. They were really impressed when I told them that they could turn on effective nginx caching in Plesk with just one click and fine-tune. “And if that’s not enough”, I told them, “visit our Extensions Catalog and install Speed Kit – a complete solution for speeding up websites.”

6 reasons to update your Plesk - enable nginx caching
To turn on and configure nginx caching, go to Apache & Nginx Settings of your subscription.
6 reasons to update plesk - turn on nginx caching - Plesk
If you have a WordPress website, then you can turn on nginx caching with just one click.

Reason #3: Finding the important bearded owl

I had to talk about Plesk’s new best friend: the Advisor. The intelligent Adviser-owl recommends ways to improve performance of your Plesk server, without being annoying.  Once you achieve all-round security, you level up to the bearded owl. The other party was so interested I had to open the laptop with my own Plesk server so they could see.

6 reasons to update plesk onyx - screenshot-5 - install advisor extension
Install the Advisor extension and start getting helpful recommendations for your server at once.
6 reasons to update Plesk Onyx - screenshot-4 - the real bearded owl - Advisor

Reason #4: The Self-Repairing Feature

To further prove how the latest Plesk outshines their outdated version, I revealed the new self-repairing feature. This lets you repair Plesk by yourself right from a browser window, without having to connect to the server via SSH. Handy if you don’t have SSH access. And there’s the long-awaited process list that helps identify and manage the processes consuming the most system resources. So, before going to Plesk Support, you can launch Repair Kit to perhaps fix an issue yourself.

6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-6 - How to access Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
Go to https://domain.tld:8443/repair to access Repair Kit where you can try to get your server back to work.
6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-7 - Find and fix server issues yourself with Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
With the Repair Kit extension, you can check your server for errors and issues and then fix them.
6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-8 - see what consumes server CPU & Ram with Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
If you want to know what consumes CPU and RAM on your server, go to Repair Kit’s process list

Reason #5: You’re always up-to-date

Another thing – if their projects grew, sooner or later they would need new, high-demand features, solutions, and technologies. Serious updates of third-party components are always implemented in the latest versions of Plesk on a clean OS. Operating systems on which Plesk is installed also have their own life cycles. So older OS versions stop supporting Plesk over time, as well as outdated versions of third-party components.

Our conversation had become a one-man show, with the guys listening attentively. It was time to finish on a high. So I said that Plesk wants all users to get the best out of the product. From increased reliability to security innovations and implementation of new demanded features. For this to happen, we occasionally stop supporting old Plesk versions.

Lastly – there’s nothing complicated to update Plesk. And once you do, you get access to all the cool, new features our team worked so hard to roll out.

Reason #6: All the latest features and more

I asked if they had seen how powerful and convenient the new WordPress Toolkit became.  And SSL – which offers access to kickass features like “Keep domain secured” HSTS management. Our community, documentation, and support will always help you update and explore new opportunities. Moreover, according to our technical support data, the update from versions 17.0 and 17.5 to 17.8 goes very smoothly and Support requests are very rare.

Finally, I said, “if I was not persuasive enough, trust your peers – the Plesk server-owners. Because 41% of all Plesk Onyx 17.0 and 17.5 instances have already updated by their owners to version 17.8. Also, there are currently 61% of all Plesk servers on Plesk Onyx 17.8. Also, 80% of all new installations are Plesk Onyx 17.8.”

I could see that my recent acquaintances were satisfied and ready to update their server as we said goodbye and went towards our gates. I hope I can persuade you too that using the latest Plesk versions is the right choice for your business.

How to set up Django Hosting on the latest Plesk Onyx

Django Hosting On Plesk

Following your Django installation on Plesk, it’s now time to learn how to organize Django hosting on Plesk Onyx. We’ll be using CentOS 7 and Plesk 17.8 for this use case scenario, however you can always refer to this article for instructions regarding different OS and serving applications by NGINX.

Getting started with Python

First, let’s check if Python is present in the system. At this stage, you’ll need a root server access, which you can get by issuing the following command:

python36 –version

One of the outputs you can get is the following:

Python 3.6.6

In case you don’t have Python installed, you can do it using the following commands.

a) Add EPEL repository and install Python 3.6:

# yum install -y epel-release
# yum install -y python36

b) Download and install the Python package manager from the official website:

# wget https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py
# python36 get-pip.py

Next, it’s common practice to have a separate virtual environment for each Python application. So, let’s install the “virtualenv” package (under the “root” user):

python36 -m pip install virtualenv

We’ll then use Phusion Passenger as an application server for hosting Django projects. So, let’s install it

yum update
plesk installer --select-release-current --install-component passenger

Stage Two: Preconfiguring the web server

In our case, the application will be a server by Apache. So, you can enable the passenger module at Tools & Settings > Apache Web Server Settings as below.

Plesk + django hosting - screenshot 1 - enable passenger module

Then, in a Service Plan, which you will be using for domains with Django Apps, enable Proxy mode – if NGINX is installed on the server. And in the “Web Server” tab, add these additional directives, as in the image below:

PassengerEnabled On
PassengerAppType wsgi
PassengerStartupFile passenger_wsgi.py

Plesk + django hosting - screenshot 2 - additional directives for http and https

For the next step, set shell options at “Hosting Parameters” tab and don’t forget to save your configuration!

Plesk + django hosting - screenshot 3 - ssh access to the server shell enabked

Stage Three: Deploying your App

This is where the Django CMS comes in. This part is done on behalf of subscription system user connected via SSH. You must create the Subscription under Service Plan, and don’t forget to navigate to the domain’s Document Root, by default:

cd ~/httpdocs/

You also need to move existing files to the backup directory in the subscription, so they won’t be processed instead of the application:

mkdir ~/backup
$mv ~/httpdocs/* ~/backup/

Then, you can make the virtual environment for your App with the below command:

python36 -m virtualenv -p python36 python-app-venv

Great, now let’s enter it and make a couple of final adjustments before creating the App itself. Enter the virtual environment, install Django framework and check if it can be imported

source ./python-app-venv/bin/activate

pip install Django
python -c "import django;print(django.get_version())" 
2.0.3

The final step here is to create a passenger startup file passenger_wsgi.py inside of the “django-app” environment in order to serve our application via the application server. So, we’ll use the following:

import sys, os
ApplicationDirectory = 'djangoProject' 
ApplicationName = 'djangoProject' 
VirtualEnvDirectory = 'python-app-venv' 
VirtualEnv = os.path.join(os.getcwd(), VirtualEnvDirectory, 'bin', 'python') 
if sys.executable != VirtualEnv: os.execl(VirtualEnv, VirtualEnv, *sys.argv) 
sys.path.insert(0, os.path.join(os.getcwd(), ApplicationDirectory)) 
sys.path.insert(0, os.path.join(os.getcwd(), ApplicationDirectory, ApplicationName)) 
sys.path.insert(0, os.path.join(os.getcwd(), VirtualEnvDirectory, 'bin')) 
os.chdir(os.path.join(os.getcwd(), ApplicationDirectory)) 
os.environ.setdefault('DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE', ApplicationName + '.settings') 
from django.core.wsgi import get_wsgi_application 
application = get_wsgi_application()

Note that you should replace the variable values in lines 2 and 3 with your own variable values. Done? Now save the text file and get ready to deploy the app itself. As a sample, we’re going to use the “scaffold” app.

Create Django project:

django-admin startproject djangoProject

Allow serving requests from any host:

sed -i "s/ALLOWED_HOSTS = \[\]/ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['*']/" djangoProject/djangoProject/settings.py

Create a tmp directory for application caches:

mkdir tmp

Restart Application:
touch tmp/restart.txt

Now all you need to do is to change Domain Document Root, and if everything is OK, you’ll see your application as below.

Plesk + django hosting - screenshot 4 - change domain document root
Plesk + django hosting - screenshot 5 - django cms admin login

We hope that was helpful, and before we sign off, let’s just say a big thank you to Alexander Bashurov for his valuable contributions while writing this post. For further support, you can refer to our technical article here.

Thanks for a smashing 2018: Year in Review [Video]

Plesk year in review 2018 - SM

What a journey! But we couldn’t have achieved so much without the engagement and support of our customers and partners. You drive us to develop better products, service and solutions. So let us take a moment to thank you for being great, and present Plesk’s top wins of the year.

1. New Plesk Onyx 17.8 Release

We took your feedback and gave Plesk Onyx a huge update in March. Thus, better aligning our complete platform with the way web professionals work. We focused on five main areas: Site performance and speed, SEO tools integration, WordPress Toolkit efficiency and ease, tighter security and Cloud integration.

Find out more about this update here.

2. Major Industry Events

From Cloudfest in Germany to WordCamp Europe in Serbia, to J and Beyond in Germany and WordCamp US in Nashville. These were only a few of the events that allowed us to connect with new and old friends this year. Plus, learn and grow from the communities and the great minds we met. We even organized our own successful APAC Partner event in Singapore to better connect and exchange ideas with our partners.

3. SolusVM Joins the Group

London-based SolusVM from OnApp is a virtual server management system that offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service hosting. And is trusted by thousands of service providers. Plesk vowed to carry on its growth strategy and elevate it from a single server control panel to a future-proof cloud platform. In the same way, SolusVM boosts Plesk’s offering as it now becomes a complete solution, thanks to combined skills and resources.

Read the full story here.

4. New Plesk Editions

If Plesk Web Pro, Web Admin and Web Host Editions didn’t suit your needs exactly, we now also have Plesk WordPress Edition and Plesk Business and Collaboration Edition. Providing even more solutions, to more users. Plesk WordPress Edition offers Managed WordPress Hosters a complete solution to manage, secure and grow their business. While Plesk Business and Collaboration Edition combines all the features of a corporate grade collaboration suite. The ready-to-use solution includes communication, performance and security tools too.

5. More Partner Success

This year, in our efforts to get closer to Partners and provide better solutions, we refocused our Partner Success Team. Thus, better serving our partners, no matter where or how big. Providing more resources and support, better initiatives and offers, dedicated partner events and much more. Want to become a partner too and reap our special benefits? Get more info on our Partner Program page or get in touch.

6. Plesk Extensions of the Year

We’re constantly searching for new ways to deliver better solutions to plug into your Plesk. And so we released loads of extensions this year, both in-house and from partners – many available for free. We’ve made leaps forward in providing add-ons for web development and apps, security and monitoring, backup, Cloud, DNS, and more. Check out our full extension catalog to see what’s new – and what you can benefit from

Now that we’ve had a look back at the good stuff, we can continue flying forward. We hope to carry on exceeding expectations in 2019. So from all the Plesk Team: Thank you – and we’ll see you next year!

Growing Your Web Development Business from Scratch to Success

Grow Your Web Development Business

1. Check your skills: Technical and sales

Web Development Business

To win in the web development business, you need two different types of skills. If you are reading this, you probably already have some or all of the technical skills. You know WordPress and the fundamentals of web design. If you have never set up a website before, you will need to develop those skills first. As a web developer, you can practice your skills by creating your website before you land clients.

But what else do you need? Sales and marketing skills. If sales are unfamiliar to you, keep this in mind. As Chris Gillespie writes, “Real sales is about matchmaking – about putting relevant products in front of people.”

Now that you know your way around the fundamentals let’s dive into how to get your first few clients.

2. Get your clients: Network and outreach

When you are starting a web development business from scratch, finding clients is tough. You do not have a long track record. You probably do not have a portfolio of websites either. How do you get started then?

2.1 Ask your network

Ever heard the saying “your network is your net worth”? It is entirely right when it comes to landing web development clients. We recommend reaching out to people who already know and trust you to ask if they know anybody who needs a website. Ideally, you are looking for businesses who need websites rather than individuals.

For the best results, send individual emails to people in your network rather than just posting an update on Facebook. If you have many contacts, start with the people who have seen you at work first.

2.2 Reach out with an email

Web Development Business - reach out with e-mails

Many web designers have mixed feelings about job sites. On the one hand, job sites like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com have a constant stream of new opportunities for clients who WANT to hire web developers. On the other hand, it can be challenging to stand out from the competition on these platforms especially when you are new.

To maximize your success on job sites, you need two practices. First, you need a list of job sites to check regularly. Second, you need to learn the art of writing a pitch to grab the client’s attention. Take a look at the Art of Emails’ resource “5 Cold Email Templates to Land High Paying Gigs” for tips on cold email. If you are interested in Upwork specifically, check out Freelance To Win’s resources like Top 10 Upwork proposal tips: How to win Upwork jobs in 2018.

After you land a few clients, it is time to invest in improving your marketing, so you can attract better clients and stay productive.

3. Invest in marketing and systems to keep growing

Web development business - Invest in marketing and systems to keep growing

While they are great to start with, there is a major limitation to relying on the strategies outlined above to grow your business. Unless you focus significant effort on growing and nurturing your network, you cannot expect new leads from your friends each month.

With job sites like Upwork, you face a different challenge. Winning clients at premium fee levels is rare. It is also difficult to stand out because you are in direct competition with many other web developers. To continue growing, you will need to invest in your company’s marketing and systems.

Depending on your budget and skills, there are different options available to invest in marketing. You might investigate marketing partnerships with companies that have a similar audience as yours. Adding your company to agency directories like Clutch.co and Digital Agency Network is another option. You might also experiment using SEO and online advertising.

Once you fine-tune these marketing systems, your agency will start to grow rapidly. Rapid growth creates different problems. Instead of scrambling to pay your bills, you have to fight to stay on top of your client relationships. Keeping all of your client relationships straight when you have 10, 20 or more clients is too much to keep in your head.

4. Improve client retention and efficiency with the Plesk Control Panel

Web Development Business - Improve client retention and efficiency with the Plesk Control Panel

At first, you might be able to manage your web development business with Google Docs and your memory. Eventually, you are going to forget critical information. It could be forgetting to test a new plugin before pushing it out to a client. Alternatively, merely forgetting to monitor the backend processes for all of your client websites.

What if you could have all of your client website information in one place? That is what you get with the control panel by Plesk. Whether you build websites in WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you can track all of those web projects from a single place. To avoid disasters, the control plan also has staging and user provisioning, so you do not have to worry about these administrative tasks.

Why does the Plesk Control Panel matter for your web development business? It helps you to provide a more consistent experience. It means you do not have to worry about WordPress security and multiple servers. No more forgotten configuration or testing mistakes. You focus on keeping your clients happy and growing your business.

Systems and sales: You need both for a thriving web development business

Web Development Business - the role of systems and sales

As your web development business grows, keep your eyes on a few critical points. Job one: keep your clients happy. Next, keep up your sales efforts even when you are busy to avoid feast and famine syndrome. Finally, invest in systems and software to automate your business so you can focus on growth rather than tracking issues manually.