Digital Ocean’s One-Click Apps vs. Cloudron

Digital Ocean has been en fuego as of late. They announced a whole bunch of new droplet plans, and the price-point for all of them has gone down. This is very good news for Reclaim Hosting because it gives us some breathing room with our infrastructure costs allowing us to continue to keep costs low.  We have been slowly moving most of our infrastructure from Linode and ReliableSite to Digital Ocean, and we could not be happier. They are constantly improving their offerings, and being in a virtual environment where we can increase storage or scale CPU instantaneously makes our life (and our clients’) a lot easier.

One-click Apps at Digital Ocean

One-click Apps at Digital Ocean

In addition to new plans and pricing, I noticed they were featuring one-click apps as well (though not sure how new this is), and I took a peak to see what they offered. It was interesting to see that some of the application they featured, namely Discourse (the forum software) and Ghost (the blogging app), were apps Reclaim was offering beyond our shared hosting cPanel-based LAMP stack. Given we’ve been exploring a one-click option with Cloudron (I recently blogged about setting up Ghost using Cloudron) I wanted to compare Digital Ocean’s idea of one-click to Cloudron’s. Long story short, there is no comparison.

Here is Digital Ocean’s command line interface for setting up Ghost:

Command line interface during Ghost setup on Digital Ocean’s one-click apps

Here is Cloudron’s:

One-click install of Ghost on Cloudron

Digital Ocean is amazing at what they do, but their idea of one-click installs still assumes a sysadmin level of knowledge, which, to be fair, make sense given they are a service designed for sysadmins. When I tried the Ghost app it was, indeed, installed on a droplet in seconds, but the actual configuration to setup required full-blown tutorial for command line editing the setup. In addition to the domain pointing, this was setting up SSL and Nginx, granted that simply meant typing “yes” or “no” and clicking enter, but even when you did the setup was not guaranteed.

After following the tutorial to the letter I still got the Nginx 502 bad gateway error, which means I was stuck.

Ghost 502 Bad Gateway Nginx Error

I could have tried to troubleshoot the 502 error, but at this point it was just a test and from my experience it was far from one-click.

Discourse example

I then tried the Discourse, and this was definitely easier than Ghost. It still required a tutorial, but that was primarily focused on setting up an SMTP account through Mailgun so the application could send email. After that, the setup was simple, but again the one-click setup process on Digital Ocean assumes an understanding of API-driven transactional email services like Mailgun or Sparkpost. Cloudron does not have a Discourse installer, so no real comparison there, but if it could manage the SMTP email setup in the background, I imagine it would be just as simple as their Ghost installer.

I’m glad I explored Digital Ocean’s one-click application offerings because it confirms for me the potential power of tools like Cloudron that truly make it simple to install applications. Our community by and large will not be folks with sysadmin level knowledge, so integrating a solution that is truly one-click, avoiding DNS and command line editing,  would be essential.

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4 Responses to Digital Ocean’s One-Click Apps vs. Cloudron

  1. Hey this is really exciting. I see that there’s the option to install Node.js and MongoDB, which I’m currently teaching students using (free-ish through Amazon) to build and test; and Heroku to deploy. It would be awesome to be able to deploy node apps through Reclaim, then they could use subdomains and/or sub-directories.

    Let me know if you and Tim are up for some testing at some point. Happy to be the guinea pig.

    • Reverend says:

      So the options in that screenshot are for Digital Ocean one-click apps, and you can get an account and start playing with them immediately. Out of curiosity I wanted to see if Cloudron has anything like those environments, and turns out they don’t have the same kind f Node and Ruby environments. It is possible they could in the future, but as of now it is not possible. So Digital Ocean may be a nice, easy alternative to AWs (much cleaner setup, etc.), but it wouldn’t be free 🙁

      I wanna believe we are inching closer to this though cause hope springs eternl 🙂

  2. Pingback: Restarting a Discourse Container | bavatuesdays

  3. Craig says:

    Not really understanding the point of Cloudron or Docker cloud type of apps, if you want to launch a web hosting business that is maybe useful but their app will need a lot of CPU and RAM and then you are just a shared server for 50+ different apps which surely all can’t be maintained regularly enough to make it safe and stable long-term. Isn’t it better to use a single server (cheap now) per each CMS you want? It’s adding like 2-3 extra layers into your server stack which is kind bloated and bizarre.

    If you want only WordPress server, you can spin up a VPS in DigitalOcean and run a Bash script like SlickStack, done in 5 minutes. The only thing installed is your LEMP stack modules and WordPress, no other junk on top that is waiting for hackers and security patches 24/7 each day. Am I missing something?

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