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?)
Video: Setup a Domain & Nameservers
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 mydomain.com, and create some records so that your server can host and serve that domain.
For example, with my VPS provider Linode.com, 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 waywiderweb.com as my example.
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.
Now back at the DNS Manager's main page, you'll see your new Domain Zone listed.
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 ns1.linode.com, ns2.linode.com, ns3.linode.com and ns4.linode.com, 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.