5 VPS Tools to Get Your Startup Humming


We probably don’t need to spend any time convincing you why a VPS is the better choice for your startup over shared hosting with one of the big, impersonal players out there. With a VPS, you get more choice, better speed, and the ability to do whatever work you need to grow your business.

Instead, you’re probably wondering about what kind of tools and services you can leverage with your VPS, on top of your existing platform, to make the experience of using your service better—for both you and your customers.

Because we recognize that startups are cash-strapped, we’ll focus on software that’s either open source or has a free tier. These aren’t endorsements, but rather places for you to get started.

1. Mattermost/Glitter

Mattermost: the first VPS tool for startupsIt seems like no startup these days goes without some kind of instant messaging-based communication platform like Slack, Campfire, or the equivalents from Google or Microsoft. These are all great options, but prices start to spike once you need additional features, like archiving.

Mattermost is one self-hosted option that’s popular among enterprises. According to its developers, it offers all of Slack’s features witout the lock-in.

Stay tuned for news from Glitter, a popular free alternative to Slack and others. It’s just been acquired by GitLab , which plans on open sourcing all of Glitter’s codebase.

Or, of course, you can go back to IRC.

2. Piwik

Piwik: the second VPS tool for startups Piwik. Piwik is open-source software that gives you powerful analytics with full ownership of your data and better privacy protection for your users.

You can download and install Piwik on your VPS in what they call a “5-minute installation.”

Piwik even works for single-page applications, such as your typical webapp, by adding about 20 lines of code to your Javascript file.

3. GitLab

GitLab: the third VPS tool for startups

Slack is to Mattermost as GitHub is to GitLab—instead of using the SaaS option hosted elsewhere, maybe it’s time to bring your codebase back under your control. GitLab is an ever-popular way to make that happen.

GitLab is a git repository management server built with Ruby on Rails. According to its maker, “GitLab unifies issues, code review, CI and CD into a single UI.”

Best of all, you can download and install it on your own VPS as long as you have MySQL, Python, and Ruby installed. There is a free “community” edition that offers Git repository hosting, code review, issue tracking, and more, with additional features for those who are willing to pay.

4. Jenkins

Jenkins: the fourth VPS tool for startupsJenkins is an open source, cross-platform automation server to help developers build, test, and deploy their software continuously. The goal is to make pushing changes to the codebase easier and more reliable. It’s easy to install and configure, and is extensible through plugins.

You can simply run the Java application or use a native package for your OS of choice.

Jenkins competitors include Travis , Circle CI, and others. There are pros and cons to every single platform, but Jenkins is the only one that's guaranteed to be free. Just one of the many benefits of going open source.

5. Grav CMS

Grav CMS: the fifth VPS tool for startupsBecause every startup needs a blog. Grav CMS is a open source, self-hosted, flat-file content management system, which means you don’t even need a database in order to start posting content.

For the beginner to VPS/Linux administration, this might be your best bet—it’s easy to install and configure, and has a nice development ecosystem for plugins and themes you can use to plug-and-play and get right to work.

And that’s the main goal with each of these tools—for the bootstrapped startup, free self-hosted options help you save money while giving you the systems you need to grow.

Essentially, it’s never to early to get started on managing your codebase and your deployments with an eye toward performance and agility. And by hosting these tools yourself, you control your entire infrastructure, giving you all the flexibility you'll need later on. The additional administrative overload might be an inconvenience at times, but what good startup doesn't experience some growing pains here and there?

Our inspiration for this piece came from this post on code management from Founders Grid. Be sure to check out that Q&A for even more tools you might be able to utilize in launching or growing your startup.