Most of my friends and family who read my updates here will probably not be interested in this story, but for posterity and for the benefit of anyone who may stumble through and find this interesting, here goes.
Last Fall I saw on the user forums of my web hosting provider (Westhost) that the "virtual VPS" platform that they use was no longer going to be supported by the supplier, so they were going to migrate users away from that VPS platform and onto a new platform that would work fine for most users but that would take away remote login and low-level customization that the previous platform had included. Since I enjoy managing the server and only pay someone else to host for me so I have the flexibility to change internet providers without losing my website and email along the way, the loss of these features would be a substantial loss to me. I like working under the hood of the server in a similar way that a lot of guys like getting their hands greasy working on their cars.
I was happy to learn that Westhost had worked out a deal with a partner company, VPS.net, to provide minimal VPS service to Westhost clients at a discount that would make the service cost the same as Westhost service and to allow the balance of payments already made to Westhost to be applied to an account at VPS.net. After looking into the VPS.net option, I decided that this would be a great alternative for me, so I requested a trial account at VPS.net to see what it could do. They generously allowed me a month's free trial to test drive the service.
My VPS.net trial account was set up at the beginning of January, and over the last three weeks I have little by little gotten all my data transferred from the old server and installed and configured all the services that I wanted to run. I opted to install Debian on the new server since that is what I am running on my laptop and home server. I have never had to set up all the internet services on Debian, so I had to do a fair amount of Google searching to get everything up and going. I took fairly extensive notes throughout the migration process, so I hope that next time it will be much easier.
Finally, this week I got all the services working, including the Apache2 web server, email, procmail, spamassassin, imap, mailman, Roundcube, Drupal, Wordpress, and Gallery2. After doing some final checks yesterday and verifying that things looked like they were working, I decided that today would be the day to "throw the switch". Now at lunch time I updated my DNS record to point to the new server, and, if all went well, you are now being served my webpage from a shiny new VPS.net cloud server! Sometime next week I should know with some confidence whether the new setup with work and will be able to close my Westhost account and open a paid VPS.net account.