So I signed up with Linode. I chose the smallest server, the Linode 512. If I outgrow it, I can resize it and pay a little more and carry on. They have a number of locations you can choose from. I chose what I thought would be the most stable. So far it has been.
It automatically assigned swap space for me, and I assigned the rest of the 20 gig for my virtual server. I didn't see any point keeping space aside for some other unknown purpose, especially when it might get squeezy with just 20 gig.
So Slackware 13.37 was installed, I followed both their handy instructions for getting started, and what I normally do to get started on a fresh Slackware installation. A seriously small subset of Slackware was installed. The bare minimum. I set up slackpkg, and whenever I ran into something missing, I would check for the package name at home, then "slackpkg install packagename". Very soon, the system became useful. First of all, Mignight Commander. Got to have that for keeping things in order.
A new user, ssh authorised keys, then change ssh to now allow logins with passwords. They have several methods of getting in to your VPS if you need it, beyond sshing in to it. They have firewall recommendations, so I merged my iptables system with theirs and shut down the probing. Good grief, I was one hour into owning this VPS and I've got Russians and Germans trying to guess passwords with ssh.
I installed one of my small websites, installed and configured Apache, then MySQL, and then loaded data. Changed my DNS elsewhere to point to my new address, then tested it. It works. Nice. And strangely, it feels fractionally faster than the webserver at home, and it feels... smoother? Hard to describe. Browsing a simple site running home made PHP feels different. Feels better. I was encouraged. So I started shifting more websites over, and changing DNS once they were ready. It was very easy. I soon had all my websites over, except for the ones that depend on email.
I also took the opportunity to clean things up. I added some subdomains and removed a bunch of subdomains. I rewrote code, moved things around, and ended up with a very tight system. I am using 49% of the hard disk space, and I am all installed. It will fit the 20 gig, with plenty of room for growth.
Then I tackled email. Sendmail was easy. And this time, because I had started fresh, and the recent install was fresh in my mind, and my notes had all been freshly updated, SpamAssassin was easily installed and soon working. Same for Majordomo, thanks to the extensive notes I had just written. And email was soon working. I switched the last of my DNS over, and now my VPS was carrying all my traffic.
There are still some things left undone. I need to learn about certificates for sendmail to allow relaying for authenticated users. Richard knows about that, and I will learn from him.
But essentially, in just a couple of days, I have gone from my mail and webserver at home, to a complete replacement at Linode with a Virtual Private Server. It's nice. I actually feel relieved. I feel safer. I will feel even safer when I get backups working better.