Starting around this time last year I started seriously looking into what it would take to host my own web site. The search ended temporarily when I found Typepad and purchased my first domain name (coolverification.com) from Godaddy.com. I quickly realized that even with the flexibility of Typepad as a blogging platform I'm still lacking a degree of control. For example, many bloggers use Feedburner to distribute their RSS/Atom feeds. Feedburner lets the blogger track how many people have subscribed to a feed and adds tools to make the feed itself more useful. The problem is, if you don't have control over Apache you end up having to give out the URL directly to Feedburner. For example, I would end up having to publicize http://feeds.feedburner.com/coolverification instead of the "coolverification" feed at http://www.coolverification.com/index.rdf. If I was running Movable Type on my own web host I could redirect accesses to my index.rdf file to Feedburner, but it's not possible through Typepad.
The other problem with my current hosting configuration is I can't run anything except blogging software, such as a regular website using a Content Management System such as Joomla, a Wiki, or bug tracking software such as Bugzilla. Why would I care to run any of these packages?
Being able to run my own private copy of Bugzilla would give me a scratch space to try out custom mods... I could do this on my own private Linux machine but then wouldn't be able to easily get feedback from coworkers/clients/readers of this blog, etc, not to mention the security issues involved. Same thing with the Wiki. I've been interested in Joomla because it's something that could eventually be used on the main Verilab site. Content Management Systems make it easy to add new content and manage old content. They often provide end users the ability to subscribe to a feed of the site so they can always be kept up to date when new info is posted.
Joomla relies on MySQL and PHP support. My basic hosting account at Godaddy was adequate to get up and running. Bugzilla has been a different story. It requires a large number of Perl modules that aren't installed by default (at least on Godaddy). Apparently it's possible to compile and ftp the modules to the server yourself but I haven't been able to figure out exactly how to do that yet. Then there's the pain of changing every Perl script in the Bugzilla installation to add a new directory to @INC so they know where to look for the modules... I've spent some time searching around the web today but haven't been able to find anything other than paying for a dedicated server or virtual server where I would have ssh/root access to install exactly the packages I need.
So, no good answers yet to the question of where I ought to host my online presence... if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them!