Setup VPS for Linux Noobs!

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Configuring a Master Zone in the DNS manager - image

Setting up your VPS, or any Linux server, you’ll need to point it to a domain name, and to configure what’s known as a DNS zone. Here’s how.

One scenario; in the next part of this series Set Up Unmanaged VPS (4 Newbies) we’ll be preparing your email functionality and, for that to work, we’ll need what’s called a Reverse DNS record ..

.. but we can’t do that until we’ve set up the domain in our VPS control panel.

If that’s all gibberish to you, read on and I’ll clear it up. (Hey, if it’s not clear, lemme know, huh?)

Setup Unmanaged VPS: The Ubuntu-Nginx Guide

Take your virtual private server from zero to hero

  .. from blank box to cute-as server ..  

with this easy-to-follow copy/paste guide.

22+ parts with video, here’s the index.

Video: Setup a Domain & Nameservers

Watch the, er, guvideo for a better idea of how to do this.

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VPS Domain Management

In the Virtual Private Server’s control panel there will be some kind of a domain manager, where you can make your server aware of your domain, such as, and create some records so that your server can host and serve that domain.

For example, with my VPS provider, I login to my control panel, and see a tab DNS Manager. In there, I can see what Linode calls Domain Zones, which are basically just domain data records, if I’ve bothered to set any up yet.

This process is similar for most VPS providers, such as Slicehost.

Enough Spiel – Just Show Me How!

Most commonly by far, people just want to host a site or three, in a pretty basic way, so I’ll show you how to do that.

Record a New Domain

Using Linode as an example, in the DNS Manager, click on Add a new domain zone and, in there, add your domain name, keep Master as the type and click continue. I’m using as my example.

Add a New Domain Name in the DNS manager - image

Create a New Master Zone

On the transpiring page, Create a New Master Zone, add a Start Of Authority (SOA) email address – that’s an email address where you can be contacted, and which you are happy to be unprotected and world-reachable.

Normally, you would leave Domain Status as active, even if you have your site currently hosted elsewhere, because this allows you set set up various elements of your site on your new VPS, and have your changes propogate (and that happens every 15 minutes, on the hour, the half hour, a quarter to and the top of the hour). That means, for example, that you can then begin preparing your Linode for email functionality. And until you change your nameservers, which we discuss below, your current site is unaffected.

Under the Insert Default Records option, have the manager insert records automatically, set a TTL (Time To Live) which, for our purposes, can be 5 minutes, and leave the other values defaulting. Click continue.

Create a new Master Zone in the DNS manager - image

Now back at the DNS Manager’s main page, you’ll see your new Domain Zone listed.

The New Domain Zone listed in the DNS manager - image

Click on the new zone and you’ll see the full spec, where you can edit the SOA record as well as add and delete NS, MX, A/AAA, CNAME, TXT and SRV records. For now at least, we’ll ignore that lot.

Putting Your Blog or Site Live

This really isn’t the purpose of this tutorial and is covered in greater detail in Part 18: Moving Day! How to Move Your Blog or Site but, essentially, you need to go to your domain registrar’s webpage, where perhaps you bought the domain, and login to your admin panel. Select the domain and click on something like “Change Nameservers”, replacing the existing ones with,, and, one per form field.

Then, if you haven’t already, goto the Linode DNS Manager, click on the appropriate Domain Zone, then edit appropriately the TTL (Time To Live) in the SOA record settings.

Depending on how you plan this, the change will take anything from a few hours to a day or so to effect. There is an art to getting it right, so your site doesn’t become a white screen. Read Moving Day! How to Move Your Blog or Site for more on that.

Back to the Future

With our VPS now having its first registered domain, we can configure email in the next guide, Prepare Linux Server for Email with Postfix.

You guessed it, here’s the index…

Setup Unmanaged VPS: The Ubuntu-Nginx Guide

Take your virtual private server from zero to hero

with this easy-to-follow copy/paste guide.

“My local PC runs Windows” Show me for Linux/Mac

22+ parts with video, here’s the index ..

Manage Unmanaged VPS: Ubuntu-Nginx Administration

Already set it up? We’d best maintain it then.

Toggle to the ..  Ubuntu-Nginx Admin Index

Manage Unmanaged VPS: Ubuntu-Nginx Administration

Maintain your virtual private server with ..

.. cheatsheets, tutorials, tips & guides.

Head back to the ..  Ubuntu-Nginx Installation Index

Nginx Admin: In the Works ..

This lot’s marked for addition already:-

  • Setup or Edit DNS using Bind
  • Network Tools Troubleshooting Guide
  • The Comprehensive Permissions Guide
  • Configuring Nginx Rewrites
  • Custom Website Error Page
  • Setting up Cron Jobs
  • Rsync for Incremental Remote-to-Local Backup
  • Cron & Rsync for Automatic Backup
  • Cron & mysqldump for Auto DB Backup
  • Safeguard Bandwidth with Hotlink Protection
  • Block Access with Nginx’ IP Deny

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