Shalev NessAiver wrote:
> I have seen many different people asking for free Rails hosting.  As I 
> understand it, these people are looking for
> a free/very cheap host to display their Rails apps on the public.  
> If/when those apps gain a large following, I am sure
> that the developer of the app would migrate it to a higher-end, paid 
> server.  Until that point, however, their seems to be
> a fair amount of people who could use some cheap/free Rails hosting.  
> So... I pose the question:
> 
> Would you utilize a service that offered Rails hosting for a fee 
> averaging around $1 a month?  This would be a fairly
> fast machine running lighthttpd + FastCGI.  Bandwidth would not be very 
> large, but it should be enough to support
> a small group based around that app.  This would serve as sort of 
> intermediate, testing stage for your new soon-to-be-a-hit
> Rails app.
> 
> What do people think about this?

Please excuse if the following sounds a little ranty but I think your 
expectations are sompletely unrealistic. That is if you talk about 
"commercial" hosting.

I don't think this idea is at all "commercially" possible. At least not 
in the western hemisphere. The problem is not the hosting itself, but 
the service hours that come with it. Setting up a completely automated 
way of mass hosting Rails apps requires some planning and programming 
upfront. So there is probably some weeks investment in making this work. 
(Just ask the ppl at Textdrive, they can probably tell you). For 1 buck 
per month I would be willing to do it in case you were willing to pay 10 
bucks for every service inquiry you make per email and a dollar for 
every minute on the phone ;)

See, even if you just rent a virtual root account on a big machine (like 
4 CPUs, 4 GB Ram, 6 SCSCI RAID drives) like we do for our customers it 
costs you like 60-70 Euros + Backups and what not. At our hosting 
company you get a guarantee for 100 running processes. Now you can do 
the math. Even if all 100 processes were available (which they wouldn't 
be if you account for db servers, email servers and what not) you would 
need 50 Rails customers allowing each customer a Rails app with 2 
processes. You earn 50$ from your customers and have to pay like 100$ to 
your host. That doesn't sound quite right to me.

Now imagine having 50 customers who rely on you and something doesn't 
work out and the they actually call ...

It is my opinion that Textdrive already does what you want for 12$ a 
month. 12$ a month for this kind of hosting sounds to me like pro bono 
project already. I don't believe they can be profitable with that. To 
earn money with that kind of fee structure you would need thousands of 
customers and hope they don't call too often.

You can read about the problems that occur if you read in between the 
lines on David's blog ;)

http://weblog.rubyonrails.com/archives/2005/03/31/reasonable-expectations-on-a-12-plan/

I think what you are looking for is a community project with fundings 
from a bigger investor / hoster. Even than it would be very difficult. 
And if it were funded you shouldn't need to pay even 1$ ;)

1$ per Rails app per month, I think this is not even financialy viable 
in India or China.

If you ask me I would not do it under 40-50$ per month per account. 
Otherwise I wouldn't know how to turn a enough profit to pay everyone 
involved. Everything else would be a donation based community project 
which is not to be confused with "hosting".

The alternative would be to simply self host the applications and use a 
dynamic dns provider like dyndns.org for your hostname. This doesn't 
even cost you a single extra buck a month and you can experiment all you 
want on your server. Since you don't have high bandwidth requirements 
this should be the ideal solution.

Sascha