Website Hosting Discussion

There are many ways to host a website depending on the traffic requirements and I’m curious as to what teams use for web hosting. Much like the game, I’m sure you have all come up with a variety of clever solutions.

I’m also interested in getting discussion going and offer assistance to help rookie teams. As a website judge this year for Chicago and Wisconsin regionals, I’ve seen a lot of great websites, but there are a lot of teams that don’t have them. I’d like to offer help to any rookies considering building a website in the off-season and I know there are plenty of others on this forum who would love to help out, too.

The other motivator I have is that a good friend of mine has recently founded his own hosting service. I’ve been with him for my lab website at IIT for several months and he does an amazing job. Since going online in May of 2008, they have had a 99.89% uptime with 0 minutes downtime since October of last year. So if you already have a website and are interested in professional hosting, feel free to shoot me a PM, I’d be more than happy to talk about it and refer you.

That aside, I think we can do a lot to help the rookies out there actually get into low-cost web development to build their team image and spread the word of FIRST. Maybe some of you even have web development tutorials or references to good websites that discuss web development and personal hosting? There’s a lot you can do to build a website before you spend any money on a domain name or hosting.

I’d like to say try and stay away from geocities. they are easy to sign up but they have a very unprofessional look.

My team uses hostmonster. I’m not sure on what the prices are exactly, I think around $6 a month. We’ve had no downtime, and we get unlimited everything. This includes bandwidth, disk space, sub-domains, email, ftp. Its a really great deal. Not sure on if a rookie team would want that or not. Thats just what we use.

But, I am willing to help out any rookie team that would like to create a webpage. If you are interested in starting a website, send me a PM or post on here. You don’t have to have a host or a domain to start working on one.

The DiscoBots as a rookie team got started using DynDNS with an old computer using a standard internet connection. Check out the tutorial. “Host Server Setup”

This is a great way to get started and learn about all the details without spending money.

To make our system more robust we switched over to Hostgator in our second year.

But use caution, many ISPs don’t allow this and will disconnect you if they find out!

My team does as well.

I’d also be willing to help any team with the setup, design, or development of a website.

Yeah, that’s the perfect way to get started. You can experiment with various designs and get your website running and debugged before spending any money on it. That’s also a really great website your team has!

Mike AA is right, though. If you do it consistantly and your ISP finds out, they’d likely cut you off.

Oh, the reason I mentioned my friend’s hosting company is because he likes techie things and we could try and convince him to sponsor teams (especially ones that really need it) for more publicity. No idea if he’d actually go for it, but it’d be worth a shot.

Has anyone done a more in-depth tutorial for actually designing a website or modifying templates? And does anyone have a preferred software for web development like Dreamweaver? Tutorials are inherently difficult because of the diverse nature of the task, but it would be cool to centralize some of these resources to make it easy for people searching the forums.

I initially liked dreamweaver when I was developing our lab website, but I ultimately migrated to a mediawiki base install because of the nature of the site ( If you’re interested in a wiki format like wikipedia, check out: There are plenty of others with a wide range of features that you can see here:

The local server idea is a great way to get started without spending any money on a hosting plan or domain. If you are using linux, then you will use LAMP. But, since most people use windows, google for WAMP. Its easy to setup. If you need any help just let me know.

Most rookie teams, and even some older teams, do not have websites. A website makes it extremely easy to find information about other teams around the world. I think all teams should try and get a website setup, even if they don’t wanna make it complicated, it can be simple.

I have been using Dreamweaver for about 3 years now. I love it. It makes designing and working with a website easy. Atleast in my opinion.

I really hope some teams will read this forum and want to get a website started for their team.

I am signed up with MediaTemple. It is expensive but I figured it is really worth it. I got in to the XServe beta and it’s really awesome.

As for home hosting, I have a basement server, with:

  • Debian
  • Apache
  • PHP/Python/Ruby
  • MySQL/SQLite3
  • Django/Ruby on Rails/Trac
  • SVN/Git
  • PhpMyAdmin

And that is all I’ve been needing to host like many many websites (with low loads).

Comcast hasn’t booted me yet :slight_smile:

I have gotten most of my help from here:
Under the Debian and Ubuntu sections are articles named “Perfect Server Setup”

It is very easy to follow, and teams should not have too much trouble setting up the actual server.

One tip I got for LAMP setup, make sure you don’t install a GUI, especially if it’s an old box you are just using for server.

I really encourage Debian because it is so easy to use the apt-get installer. Unbuntu has something like this too, but I’ve never seen Ubuntu as a hosting OS.

A former member of team 616 and Field Supervisor at NASA/VCU this year has a server and offers free hosting to teams. Check out his website at so contact him or request to be hosted.