[VPS] Digital Ocean (GitHub Student Education Pack)
#1
This requires a student status (verified with .edu e-mail address or some sort of a document confirming you are a student and a debit/credit card or PayPal to verify an account)

I finally got to make this review after I managed to get my account verified, so yay?

Anyway, GitHub Student Education Pack contains various tools in it. One of those is $50 in platform credit for new users of Digital Ocean services that can be used within a year. $50 pretty much translates to 10 months of cheapest (512MB of RAM) server. Since I'm a student, I could as well try out a service, right?

When GitHub Student Education Pack, you are asked to provide an e-mail address. It needs to be .edu (although it can be second level domain, such as .edu.pl). If it's not a school-issued e-mail, the request will be instantly rejected by bots. This is a preferred way of obtaining Student Education Pack, because the verification takes shorter (about three days).

If you don't happen to have an .edu e-mail address, you can send school ID, academic transcript, or other proof of affiliation which shows at least one date showing that you are still studying. Verification of such documents takes longer (although it may be because I submitted a document in Polish with translation), for me it took eight days, and your request may be denied (feel free to try again if it happens, my first attempt was rejected).

After verification that can take time, you will get access to a pack page containing various nifty stuff. Anyway, one of offers is $50 platform credit on Digital Ocean. You can click a link to obtain an offer code from GitHub you can use after you register.

Server parameters

Anyway, now that I provided background information, now it's time for an actual review. After you join, you have $50 of credit you can use to create one of the following servers:

[Image: servers.png]

That said, because the most expensive server will probably only last for slightly over a week, it may be worth making 512MB of RAM server, unless you have higher requirements. So the server that will be used in this review will have following parameters:
  • 1 CPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 20GB SSD disk
  • 1TB of transfer
  • KVM virtualization
  • IPv6 enabled (oddly enough, it's not enabled by default, but enabling IPv6 is free, so go figure)
The reason why I pick 512MB of RAM is that I expect most users using that promotion to pick that one, although a more expensive option is feasible to pick. I don't think it would make that much of a difference (although higher configurations have more CPUs, if you want that).

Also, user can pick from following operating systems that are available (from what I know, people still demand Arch Linux, but because Digital Ocean uses a custom Linux kernel, supporting Arch Linux was an issue for them, and they gave up on it). In addition, you can preinstall applications (if you want, say, wiki already installed on your container), although that option is only available with Ubuntu.
  • Ubuntu
  • FreeBSD
  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • CoreOS
  • CentOS
Because Ubuntu is popular for various reasons, I will go with it in my test.

Also, the following server locations are available. I believe the servers on those should be identical, pick whichever is closest to your users. Because Germany is closest to me, I picked Frankfurt in my review (who likes to wait for SSH to respond to you back? (now, if you have this problem, feel free to check out Mosh (Mobile Shell) which makes typed text appear before it reaches a server)).
  • United States, New York
  • United States, San Francisco
  • Netherlands, Amsterdam
  • Singapore
  • United Kingdom, London
  • Germany, Frankfurt
  • India, Bangalore
Now, curiously they don't provide a map of servers. So in event you don't know what is where, I prepared a map (in my opinion, provider should provide it, but I will let it pass). Now, mind you, my last geography lessons were long time ago, so positions may be slightly wrong. Just slightly.

[Image: map.png]

From a basic look at the server parameters, SSD is quite noticeable. As it happens, all Digital Ocean servers are SSD (which I suppose increases cost of servers a bit, which may be why 512MB of RAM server costs $5 monthly). Rest of parameters looks quite regular.

During sign-up process, you can provide an SSH key. This is helpful in that there is no password whatsoever on a server, not even during initialization. This allows you to log in pretty much automatically after getting a server (which I suppose it makes sense for "cloud", where you encouraged to buy as many servers as you can... even when you create a container, you are asked how many containers you want to create with identical settings).

Terminal

~ $ ssh root@46.101.147.105
The authenticity of host '46.101.147.105 (46.101.147.105)' can't be established.
ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:1bE8aKXHejzc8CKDBXlMJuYv6mlbeH8nZwLqOpJZCM8.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added '46.101.147.105' (ECDSA) to the list of known hosts.
Welcome to Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-38-generic x86_64)

* Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com
* Management: https://landscape.canonical.com
* Support: https://ubuntu.com/advantage

0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.



The programs included with the Ubuntu system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Ubuntu comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by
applicable law.

root@ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01:~#


Anyway, now that I talked about a server a bit, it's time for benchmarks.

Benchmarks

Are benchmarks all that useful. To be fair, I'm not entirely sure anymore, but many people may care about this, so here we go.

System information


Terminal

Processor : Intel® Xeon® CPU E5-2650L v3 @ 1.80GHz
CPU Cores : 1
Frequency : 1797.917 MHz
Memory : 488 MB
Swap : MB
Uptime : 5 min,

OS : Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
Arch : x86_64 (64 Bit)
Kernel : 4.4.0-38-generic
Hostname : ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01


Hey there, this is 64-bit Ubuntu. You could install 32-bit Ubuntu however if you like (I think it may use less memory, perhaps?).

You may have noticed that the VPS only has 488MB, not 512MB as advertised. I think the difference is that the space used by Linux kernel itself is not counted (and Digital Ocean providing smaller RAM for an user due to a kernel running), because the memory usage is suspiciously low for Ubuntu. I'm not sure, however.

Disk speed

Hey there, SSD.

Terminal

I/O (1st run) : 479 MB/s
I/O (2nd run) : 514 MB/s
I/O (3rd run) : 468 MB/s
Average I/O : 487 MB/s


Do I need to say more? This is a legit SSD. Sure, now fastest SSDs are 1.5 GB/s, but hey, the server did not specify hard drive speed, so 500 MB/s is fair, and still fast (although could be faster, oh well). Consider that a traditional hard drive usually works at about 200 MB/s, and you will notice that I/O shouldn't be as much of an issue.

Network speed (IPv6)

Before I will get to actually interesting part, let's do IPv6 benchmarks (because they can be done). And they are... quite interesting.

Terminal

Location Provider Speed
Atlanta, GA, US Linode 14.0MB/s
Dallas, TX, US Linode 11.1MB/s
Newark, NJ, US Linode 17.4MB/s
Fremont, CA, US Linode 10.8MB/s
Chicago, IL, US Steadfast 9.73MB/s

Tokyo, Japan Linode 5.61MB/s
Singapore Linode 6.91MB/s

Frankfurt, Germany Linode 16.9MB/s
London, UK Linode 55.5MB/s
Haarlem, Netherlands Leaseweb 46.7MB/s


How is precisely server in Frankfurt, Germany slow when my Digital Ocean server is in fact in Germany... You know, I actually have no idea. Let's do IPv4 then, it sure will go better. I suppose state of IPv6 is like that. Perhaps that explains why I had to explicitly turn on IPv6 option when creating a VPS.

Network speed (IPv4)

Terminal

Location Provider Speed
CDN Cachefly 91.0MB/s

Atlanta, GA, US Coloat 11.6MB/s
Dallas, TX, US Softlayer 9.69MB/s
Seattle, WA, US Softlayer 9.94MB/s
San Jose, CA, US Softlayer 4.34MB/s
Washington, DC, US Softlayer 4.53MB/s

Tokyo, Japan Linode 5.99MB/s
Singapore Softlayer 6.91MB/s

Rotterdam, Netherlands id3.net 61.1MB/s
Haarlem, Netherlands Leaseweb 91.7MB/s


You know, I'm naïve. Perhaps just those network benchmarks are worthless. Out of curiosity, I ran a test on VPS 16, and I got similar results, so I suppose the benchmark results are just slow for everyone. Perhaps I just should use a different benchmark, say Speedtest CLI. Yep, that should solve the problem.

Network speed (Speedtest CLI)

Okay, perhaps this will go better.

Terminal

root@ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01:~# ./speedtest-cli --share
/usr/bin/env: ‘python’: No such file or directory


Right, let's download Python.

Terminal

Get:1 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 libpython2.7-minimal amd64 2.7.12-1~16.04 [339 kB]
Get:2 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 python2.7-minimal amd64 2.7.12-1~16.04 [1,294 kB]
Get:3 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 python-minimal amd64 2.7.11-1 [28.2 kB]
Get:4 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 libpython2.7-stdlib amd64 2.7.12-1~16.04 [1,877 kB]
Get:5 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial-updates/main amd64 python2.7 amd64 2.7.12-1~16.04 [224 kB]
Get:6 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 libpython-stdlib amd64 2.7.11-1 [7,656 B]
Get:7 http://mirrors.digitalocean.com/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 python amd64 2.7.11-1 [137 kB]
Fetched 3,907 kB in 0s (12.7 MB/s)


Fast... although it's clear that the default mirror configuration was changed. In a way, sounds fair. Okay, let's try again.

Terminal

root@ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01:~# ./speedtest-cli --share
Retrieving speedtest.net configuration...
Retrieving speedtest.net server list...
Testing from DigitalOcean (46.101.147.105)...
Selecting best server based on latency...
Hosted by LWLcom GmbH (Frankfurt) [0.00 km]: 5.457 ms
Testing download speed........................................
Download: 906.63 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed..................................................
Upload: 190.41 Mbit/s
Share results: http://www.speedtest.net/result/5703297370.png


[Image: 5703297370.png]

So, the connection in best case is 900 Mbit/s, and upload speed is 200 Mbit/s. Sounds fair, although quite usual. Let's pick something a bit further, say 30 km away.

Terminal

root@ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01:~# ./speedtest-cli --share --server 9852
Retrieving speedtest.net configuration...
Retrieving speedtest.net server list...
Testing from DigitalOcean (46.101.147.105)...
Hosted by Neon IT Kevin Wendel (Riedstadt) [34.11 km]: 29.777 ms
Testing download speed........................................
Download: 429.19 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed..................................................
Upload: 57.42 Mbit/s
Share results: http://www.speedtest.net/result/5703304535.png


[Image: 5703304535.png]

Suddenly, a connection is a bit slower. Okay, let's go ever further. What is the furthest point in the world from Europe? Oh, yes, let's check New Zealand, pretty sure they have some servers here.

Terminal

root@ubuntu-512mb-fra1-01:~# ./speedtest-cli --share --server 922
Retrieving speedtest.net configuration...
Retrieving speedtest.net server list...
Testing from DigitalOcean (46.101.161.50)...
Hosted by Two Degrees New Zealand Ltd (Christchurch) [18591.35 km]: 456.441 ms
Testing download speed........................................
Download: 59.72 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed..................................................
Upload: 9.96 Mbit/s
Share results: http://www.speedtest.net/result/5703310360.png


[Image: 5703310360.png]

I wanted to joke about modem connections, but this is still fast despite distance. Pings are insane (well, provided that you consider 456 ms to be insane), but that's to be expected when you are reaching end of the world. Although, I have to wonder, what sort of connections Germany has that this is faster than 87% of Germany. Are there connections that can download from New Zealand faster than that?

Geekbench

Apparently the newest version can benchmark 64-bit mode without paying for software, so let's do it. However, because the application doesn't show scores, it can just upload them, all I can do is linking to https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/705040. In short, the score received was 1983, which is a single core result (multi core result exists too, but it's meaningless when you only have one CPU).

Today, the fastest CPU, i7-6700K after overclocking gives 6897 for a single core result. Which means 1983 is not terrible, but could have been better. Ah well, it's 1.8 GHz after all.

Control Panel

Digital Ocean uses its own control panel. If I had to name it, it would be called "Control Panel" Wink. Okay, that's a bad name. I don't think it has any name. That said, it does have some interesting features.

It provides some graphs, such as these.

[Image: graphs.png]

I would say they look quite nice, if you need something to put on a wall or something. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think SolusVM statistics have anti-aliasing.

Control panel also provides a VNC access information (JavaScript VNC client too, in case you don't want to install a VNC client), tool to reset root passwords, power off button, power cycle button, a feature that allows upgrading virtual machine (it can be done while VPS is turned on, even),

Reliability

Under construction, coming soon, insert generic phrase meaning that it will come never.

.

..

...

Okay, seriously, I will put that one after I will use VPS for longer.

Some random points

On plus:
  • SSD
  • KVM (you can even set up your own swap, because it's KVM, in event you don't want to pay for more memory, but it's going to be slower, even considering it's SSD)
  • IPv6
  • $50 to begin (essentially 10 months with cheapest plan) with is quite a lot to start with for free
  • The company is stable (one of most popular VPS providers), and is unlikely to disappear anytime soon
  • Friendly user interface

On minus:
  • CPU is a bit on slow side
  • The servers are a bit expensive compared to what you see on LowEndBox. (after you run out of initially provided credit)
  • Where is Arch Linux?
  • If you were bad at geography, good luck figuring out where servers you buy are (this con is somewhat of a joke)
There are 10 sorts of people in the world; those who understand ternary, those who don't, and those who thought this was a binary joke.
#2
Sign-ups from 2014 has the 100$ code though. (I have it)
Also, regarding the date on the ID or some other verification method, I used an ID that doesn't have a school year (or what ever you call it) at the front and didn't send the back portion back in 2014. (I guess it isn't really needed and you just need a legit ID.)
#3
(2016-10-11, 11:49:14 pm)Conan Wrote: Sign-ups from 2014 has the 100$ code though. (I have it)

Have you checked it and still valid? Because some says on Let that it will expire after a year or so.
#4
(2016-10-11, 11:49:14 pm)Conan Wrote: Sign-ups from 2014 has the 100$ code though. (I have it)

Yep.

[Image: money.png]

($0.01 was used by this review, go figure)

That said, I didn't mention that it used to be $100, because this was changed, and unless you got the offer code before, you would only have $50.

And yep, codes expire after 12 months (since terms and services change that said so), mine did (full disclosure: I actually asked Digital Ocean support to provide me $50 trial from GitHub Student Pack a few days ago (I didn't have debit card to verify account with), and they gave me $100, which is neat... you don't see support like that every day, so consider that a plus too).

Also, I verified my account with debit card. It worked, although the site says that debit cards are only accepted in select geographies. I suppose it makes sense, almost nobody uses credit cards in Poland.
There are 10 sorts of people in the world; those who understand ternary, those who don't, and those who thought this was a binary joke.
#5
@xfix

I just checked and I believe the platform credit has been increased to $100 again Smile
(or was it because I signed up in 2014 and renewed my pack?)
Just wandering around, nothing more.

(Wow, it's been years and it took me this long to realize I had a typo in my signature :/)
#6
This review could be one of digitalocean reviews too Laugh
i've get my student pack on 2014, got $100 and then i didn't used it till They (DO) revised the tos.
Coupon code / credits only works for 12 month, and then expired. My credit was expired after they revised the tos.
So i didn't know what taste of do vps of student pack Sad

pfft.
Thanks FreeVPS.us and ZXPlay for VPS7 Smile

Unlimited Hosting with LiteSpeed Enterprise Web Server (+free domain) > Pelajar Hosting


Quote:
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#7
(2016-10-12, 1:18:27 am)xfix Wrote: And yep, codes expire after 12 months (since terms and services change that said so), mine did (full disclosure: I actually asked Digital Ocean support to provide me $50 trial from GitHub Student Pack a few days ago (I didn't have debit card to verify account with), and they gave me $100, which is neat... you don't see support like that every day, so consider that a plus too).


Sounds great. Do you mean you could ask for $100 directly from Digital Ocean support and use the fund even without getting debit card verified?
#8
(2016-10-12, 3:21:36 pm)try3vps Wrote: Sounds great. Do you mean you could ask for $100 directly from Digital Ocean support and use the fund even without getting debit card verified?

Nope, debit/credit card has to be verified, I tried that before, not an option.

While you could have $100 on your account, you cannot use what you have on an account until it gets verified.
There are 10 sorts of people in the world; those who understand ternary, those who don't, and those who thought this was a binary joke.
#9
The 100$ code still works. (Just used mine a few minutes ago.)
Debit Cards aren't supported here in the philippines. Had to use paypal but good thing I had a bit of extra money. :3

@FlamesRunner
Is it a different code now?
I think it's because you registered back in 2014 like me.
#10
(2016-10-12, 3:35:36 pm)xfix Wrote: Nope, debit/credit card has to be verified, I tried that before, not an option.

While you could have $100 on your account, you cannot use what you have on an account until it gets verified.


Too bad, I got $50 some months ago but I am thinking there could be a way I could use my fund without getting debit/credit card verified. Cry




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