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I work for a company in the UK that sells VPS's. (www.webfusion.co.uk). Our systems use Virtuozzo (controls the virtual machine itself) and Plesk (controls the services on the virtual machine). Pretty much all of the management is done via these 2 web based control panels, but you can also SSH into the system if you want. If you want to play around with your own version look at OpenVZ, which is SWsofts free version of Virtuozzo. Your system has a public IP and as such, it might be worth setting up a firewall on the system.

Our systems come with Fedora Core 2 (!?!), a bunch of pre-configured applications and no compiler, which means you have to install via RPMs. You can update things like PHP or MySQL (by RPM) but this will usually break the control panels, and you will have to ask for it to be rebuilt. As for the services offered, like email or ftp, your in charge of creating your own accounts and setting up the service itself. Generally I would advise setting the system up then just doing system updates, only updating the services if you actually need to. Back everything up, and plan for emergency's (like a disk failing during a server backup, which corrupts the rest of the RAID your site is on)

The choice of distro is your own really, but Cent OS interests me as its a redhat clone, and geared to be more stable than bleeding edge.

Who are you thinking of using? If you have any more specific questions, I can ask the 2nd line people at my office.

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