H-Sphere Pre-Sales Frequently-Asked Questions

FAQ Revised: Thursday 31 January 2008

Table of Contents

1. General Questions
2. Capacity and Scalability
3. User's Features
4. Administrating Features
5. Customization
6. Licensing and Payments
7. Hardware and Partitioning Requirements
8. Supported Operating Systems
9. Installation Questions
10. Network Implementation Issues
11. Adding New Servers
12. Adding More Hard Drives
13. Compatibility Issues
14. Software and Files

1. General Questions

1.1. What is H-Sphere?
H-Sphere is a complete front end control panel and integrated back end for automating day to day tasks of web hosting operation such as billing, e-mail, web, FTP, DNS, POP3, cgi-bin, Webmail and FrontPage configuration. On the front end it is a user-friendly and intuitive web interface that allows complete customer self-care and can drastically cut down your maintenance and customer support costs. On the back end it is a system for managing above mentioned server side operation tasks that includes support for various hosting plans, operating systems, database platforms and e-commerce services.

1.2. What level of Unix or Win2000 knowledge do I need to administer H-Sphere?
For everyday tasks, no UNIX or Win2000 knowledge is required, H-Sphere offers a comprehensive web interface. To prepare servers for installations and resolve technical issues, you need some knowledge of these operating systems or help of a system administrator.

1.3. How long has H-Sphere been tested?
The first version was released in Jan 1998. Version 2.0 is a complete overhaul, and was in use since Dec, 2000 at some companies. Subsequent versions include a myriad of improvements in speed, stability, and functionality.

1.4. What type of support is available?
See our suppot page.

1.5. Do you support free banner hosting?
No, but we can take it as a customization task.

2. Capacity and Scalability

2.1. How many user accounts does H-Sphere support?
H-Sphere should be able to handle hundreds of thousands and even millions of accounts. However, too many resellers may generate high control panel load.

2.2. How many accounts can a stand-alone H-Sphere web server handle?
We have customers with stand-alone web servers hosting thousands of accounts. However, the server will not be able to service as many users if they are actively using cgi or other scripts, if they have high hit rates, or if you host too many resellers.

2.3. What are the limitations to H-Sphere?
There are no hard limitations that we are aware of. The software scales well to the physical limits of the hardware.

3. User's Features

3.1. Does H-Sphere include e-mail management?
Yes, complete solution with auto-responders, POP3 e-mail accounts with catch all accounts and e-mail aliases, mail forwarding and mailing lists. Web-based e-mail with filters, folders and attachments is implemented through SqWebMail and IMP.

3.2. Does H-Sphere support domain name registration?
The system supports domain name registration using OpenSRS and Enom.

3.3. Does H-Sphere support Virtual web hosting and IP based hosting?
Yes, both shared IP and dedicated IP hosting are supported. It takes one click to migrate from one to the other.

3.4. Can user modify disk quota?
Yes, users can change their disk quota for websites, mailboxes, and databases through a web interface.

3.5. Will H-Sphere e-mail end users?
Yes, it e-mails welcome letters, invoices, approaching quota warnings, negative balance warnings, and other system notifications.

3.6. Do you offer a shopping cart?
Two shopping carts, Miva (commercial) and osCommerce (free) are offered both for Windows and Unix hosting.

3.7. Do you provide web site statistics?
Yes, H-Sphere supports Webalizer, ModLogAn, Urchin, and AWStats.

3.8. Do you provide referral logs?
Yes. Referral logs contain information of the web site from which visitors reached your page. Using this information you can optimize your advertising efforts and increase traffic to your site. The logs can be turned on from the control panel.

3.9. Is FrontPage supported?
Yes. You can install or remove FrontPage extensions from the control panel. The extensions are required if you want to use FrontPage to publish your site, or run tools supported by FrontPage.

3.10. Do you support third-level domains or sub domains?
Yes, you can add as many levels of sub domains as you want. You can also create aliases for sub domains. This all is available through the control panel.

3.11. Can my customers use their own scripts?
Yes. CGI, PHP, and ASP support will be included into their accounts if you enable support for these scripts in their plans.

3.12. Does H-Sphere support python scripts?
Although H-Sphere doesn't provide centralized management for python scripts, you can add python support manually. For Unix hosting you just need python support installed on the web box. Windows hosting requires additional coding for this.

3.13. Can users set password protection to their files and directories?
Yes. Starting with H-Sphere 2.3 RC4, this feature is integrated into WebShell.

3.14. Does H-Sphere support ASP mail or any kind of FormMail program?
Yes, it does.

3.15. Can windows-based accounts use MySQL services?
Yes, MySQL can be installed on any Unix box, and you must have at least one (the control panel).

3.16. Is Webalizer supported in windows-based accounts?

3.17. Can a user who already has an account set up another virtual domain name pointing to the same account?
Yes, via domain name aliasing. DNS configuration will be done automatically.

3.18. Which features of MS SQL are supported through HS?
You can create user logins, databases, and db users with different database permissions.

3.19. Which features of ColdFusion are supported through HS?
Users can run scripts written in ColdFusion. ColdFusion support can be enabled and disabled from H-Sphere interface.

3.20. Can MS SQL be hosted on a non-Hsphere box?
No, there would need to be H-Sphere winbox software to manage MS SQL hosting from the control panel. There needs to be no win-based web hosting on this box.

3.21. Can users create ColdFusion DSNs through HS?
ColdFusion DSNs can't be created directly from HS interface. However, you can create DSNs using the ODBC resource.

4. Administrating Features

4.1. Does H-Sphere support automated Credit Card charging?
H-Sphere supports over twenty merchant gateways.

4.2. What payment systems do you support?
We support checks, credit cards, WorldPay, PayPal, 2CheckOut, and GestPay.

4.3. Does H-Sphere support ApacheASP?
Currently, it doesn't.

4.4. Does H-Sphere support JSP?
Not yet, but it is planned in future versions.

4.5. Does H-Sphere provide support for Sendmail?
No, it supports qmail instead, which is its more advanced alternative.

4.6. Which web mail feature do you support?
We support SqWebMail (you can find info on inter7.com) and IMP.

4.7. Does H-Sphere support Miva Order?
Right now we support only Miva Empresa + Miva Merchant, we might add Miva Order in the future.

4.8. Can services be limited?
Yes, you can set the maximum amount of each resource for each individual plan. Go to Plans->Resources->Edit.

4.9. Can a customer get more/less than 5 e-mail addresses/forwards?
The number or quantity of any resource is limited by plan settings. If you create a plan without any limitations on e-mail addresses, forwards and autoresponders, the users of this plan will be able to create as many units of this resource as they like.

4.10. Is there any way to vary the amount of web space given to individual customers?
The good way is to create different plans with different free disk space, different disk quotas, and different max value on the quota resource. If necessary, you can make plans unavailable from the street (Access link in the plan list) and create accounts by means of the Signup feature in the admin panel.

4.11. When I set free disk space, does that include the space used for mailboxes?
No. There are different disk quotas that you set for each plan: Web disk quota, Mail quota, Database quota, RealServer quota, etc. Each of the quotas is set separately.

4.12. Can I disable the Domain Name option for user intervention?
Yes. If you don't want customers to tamper with your DNS, all you need to do is disable the DNS Management resource in the plan configuration. It will only disallow users to enter custom DNS info, but will continue to update DNS for the new domain.

4.13. How does trial hosting work if I allow for 7 days trial?
A trial user can sign up without paying. If the user hasn't paid during the 7 days, the account gets suspended. When the user pays, the account gets resumed. More on trial hosting

4.14. Can the domain manager create an e-mail account for his employee?
Yes. The webmail interface is available outside the control panel, so the employee can independently go to the URL of the mail server and log straight into his email account.

4.15. Are IP numbers shared or assigned automatically?
Either way, depending on user account settings.

4.16. How is billing incorporated into the product?
Completely automated recurrent billing with trial plans and money back guarantee is supported.

5. Customization

5.1. Can you customize H-Sphere for me?
Yes, please contact sales@psoft.net.

5.2. Can I customize H-Sphere interface?
You can change images and icons, skins and colors, interface texts and emails to customers, default language and regional settings right from the Control Panel.

5.3. Can I hide parts of control panel?
Some of the parts are hidden automatically, if a user does not have access to them. The rest can be hidden by template customization and menu customization.

5.4. Can I integrate third party scripts like guest books, counter, polls, form-to-email facilities, etc?
Yes, you can modify the templates to provide links to your own scripts. H-Sphere configures servers in the way any other good sys-admin would do it.

5.5. Can I add new features that are not implemented in H-Sphere?
We provide open API to a few modules that can be used to add your own classes. For example, you can create your own CC processor by subclassing the Merchant gateway class.

5.6. Is your software modular? I have a web mail interface for vpopmail already in place, can I modify it to work with H-Sphere?
Yes it is. But it might be complex to go through the web interface with the scripts to do automatic mail domain creation and other configuration options.

5.7. How can you help me if I choose to add a product which is not supported by H-Sphere?
If you choose to add support to any of unsupported products, such as servlets or JSP, you would have to do it by yourself at your own risk. We can tell you whether or not this installation will mess with H-Sphere if you tell us what this installation will take in your specific case. This means, we would need from you a step-by-step plan of what exactly you are going to do to your system in respect to this installation.

6. Licensing and Payments

6.1. Is the licensing on a per server basis?
No, it is licenses per account.

6.2. How much does H-Sphere cost?
The software can be licensed at $4.50 per account one time fee. A 200 account minimum applies to the initial purchase. There is additional $150 initial installation fee. There is also 25% fee per year that includes software update service / maintenance (not including technical support). You can try H-Sphere for 30 days. The setup fees are not refundable.

6.3. Is SiteStudio a separate Licensing issue?
No, if you buy H-Sphere, you get it for free.

6.4. Are there any educational/non-profit discounts?
There is 20% discount for qualified organizations.

6.5. Do you have a distributor program?
Yes, please contact us at reseller@psoft.net. Check our list of current distributors and information for distributors.

6.6. How can I pay for the H-Sphere?
Send an email to sales@psoft.net with all necessary information, and you'll be emailed with an invoice and payment instructions.

6.7. What happens if I run out of user licenses?
The system will e-mail you the warning to purchase new licenses.

6.8. Are your licenses recyclable?
Yes. Only your current customers count.

6.9. How much do you charge for installing a demo?
There is a $95 non-refundable fee.

6.10. There is a 20% annual fee based on the total license cost. What is it charged for?
It is used to provide basic support and free upgrades for the software.

6.11. I read about changing IP's fee is $130. Do you mean changing the main IP of our server or changing the IP's we have available for hosting?
It's IPs that you use for webhosting. This usually requires changing those IPs in:
Apache configuration
DNS servers
H-Sphere DNS.
We have expertise in doing that and can provide you with such support for a fixed fee.

6.12. I have several web sites. Do I need to create individual accounts for each of them? Will those accounts count towards my licensed users?
No. You can create a service hosting plan, and switch billing off for it. Then create one account under this plan. You will be able to host all your sites using this one account. This will take only one license.

6.13. When the next release comes out, would I be eligible for that as well?
Definitely yes. However, you would have perform the update yourself, because as of today the updates are not installed automatically.

6.14. Where is the place to put hsphere license?
Select License Info in the Settings menu.

7. Hardware and Partitioning Requirements

7.1. What are H-Sphere hardware requirements?
Please see the requirements section of H-Sphere.

7.2. What are the recommended minimum boxes for H-Sphere?
H-Sphere can be installed on one or more servers for *nix hosting. Windows2000 hosting will require one or more extra boxes. The common number of boxes is 3 (Linux/Unix) or 4 (Windows):
- Linux for control panel and databases;
- *nix for mail and DNS1;
- *nix for web and DNS2;
- Windows2000 if you want to run ASP and ODBC.
*nix boxes should have either Linux Red Hat or FreeBSD installed.

7.3. Can H-Sphere be installed on one computer?
Yes. In the future you may come to the point when you will want to add more computers, and H-Sphere will allow you to expand your system painlessly.

7.4. What's the minimum computer configuration that you can install H-Sphere to?
You can begin with Pentium II, 200MHz, 512RAM

7.5. Are there any special partitioning requirements?
Please create at least two partitions, because H-Sphere web box requires userquota feature enabled, and it is recommended to keep user disk quota feature on a partition other than the root.

7.6. I have a big partition I want to use for H-Sphere among other things. What do I do?
You should create the hsphere directory in the place you want to store H-Sphere files, and create a symlink to it in the root. For example:
	# mkdir -p /home/hsphere
	# ln -s /home/hsphere /hsphere

8. Supported Operating Systems

8.1. What Operating Systems does H-Sphere support?
Please check the List of Supported Operating Systems.

8.2. Do you support Solaris x86 with apache web server?
No. Neither are we developing support for Solaris x86 due to Sun stopping development of new versions of Solaris for x86. We are concentrating on Sparc only.

8.3. Can H-Sphere control NT box?
Win2000 is supported. NT4.0 and older versions are not supported.

8.4. Can H-Sphere control panel be installed on Win2000?
No, Win2000 can be used only for web servers

8.5. Do I need Win2000 box to run H-Sphere?
No, you can run H-Sphere without Win2000.

8.6. What OS would you recommend for webservers with shared hosting?

8.7. What OS would you recommend for the control panel server?
RedHat Linux. FreeBSD does not directly support Java, which may cause malfunction of certain H-Sphere features.

8.8. What OS would you recommend for a one-server installation?
RedHat Linux. However, you may want to read our forum for related discussions.

9. Installation Questions

9.1. How soon could the software be installed?
Normally it takes 3 to 5 work days after you submit the installation request will all required data. Sometimes, though, it may take longer depending on the number of installation or update requests.

9.2. How long will the install take?
Usually it takes 2 days - one for the actual install, one for testing the installation.

9.3. What do you need to install a demo?
Please review the requirements section of H-Sphere, and select the configuration you want. Then e-mail us at install@psoft.net with your preferred configuration. IP/login/password for admin/root accounts on all machines, their role in the configuration. Unix machines should run SSH, Win2000 should run either Terminal Server or PCAnywhere. Please specify which one you are running. Also specify the domain name under which the software will be installed, and point this domain to the newly appointed DNS servers.

9.4. Are there any special requirements for the FreeBSD installation?
You need to include a userquota directive into the kernel configuration.

9.5. What is the difference between manual and automatic installation?
Automatic installation uses our custom RPM file that installs all the necessary software almost without user intervention. With manual installation, we have to compile/install each piece of software in its 'proper' place, one by one.

9.6. Can I start with temporary IPs to change them at a later time?
It's better to install H-Sphere to a permanent IP, because at signup user data are written to the DNS, IP, FTP configuration, and need to be edited manually when IPs are changed. However, if you are prepared to lose these settings after the testing period, there is no problems about this.

9.7. Can I have two hosting companies on one server?
Yes, you can set up one as the main company and the other as a reseller.

10. Network Implementation Issues

10.1. Can I have more than one subnet?
There is no problem with multiple subnets, as long as you setup new IP addresses with correct netmask.

10.2. Can I have my control panel server and my win2k server on different networks?
Yes, but in this case they will operate slower.

10.3. Can the Netmask be different each time we are given a new Netmask?
Yes it can.

11. Adding New Servers

11.1. If we install H-Sphere on one computer, can we later move all services to separate servers?
Yes, but it will require some downtime. Yet if you plan to grow rapidly (more than 3 servers in the next 3 months), it makes sense to start with 3.

11.2. How scalable is H-Sphere?
H-Sphere can be scaled by adding more web servers, mail servers, database servers, and DNS servers, without any downtime under the same Control Panel. Hundreds of such servers can be supported.

11.3. When I add new servers what needs to be installed on them to interact with the management server?
This depends on the server. Normally, it will be apache or bind, or qmail, ssh server, plus a small set of our scripts that control all of it.

12. Adding More Hard Drives

12.1. Where do I place user homes?
Mount them to a directory in /hsphere/local/. Don't create recursive subfolders. More >>

13. Compatibility Issues

13.1. Can I run H-Sphere jointly with another control panel, for instance Enzim?
No. In order to install and use H-Sphere, you need to uninstall or stop all other control panels.

13.2. Can H-Sphere be installed on a Cobalt RAQ4i Server?
This depends on the version of Linux. If it is RedHat 7.2 or 7.3, H-Sphere can be installed, but the services that come with the server are not compatible with H-Sphere and need to be disabled.

13.3. Can the software be installed on a machine that is currently being used?
No, we provide installation only to freshly installed computers.

14. Software and Files

14.1. What programming language is H-Sphere?
H-Sphere Control Panel is written in Java. Software for Win2000 management is written in C++ & ASP that are executed through http protocol. Unix management is done through SSH by running Perl & shell scripts. User interface is done in Freemarker and JavaScript.

14.2. What web server does H-Sphere use?
H-Sphere uses Apache on Unix platforms, and IIS on Win2000 platform.

14.3. What servlet runner does the control panel use?
H-Sphere 2.3.x and lower runs on JServ. H-Sphere 2.4 and higher runs on Tomcat.

14.4. Which databases does H-Sphere work with?
H-Sphere has been tested on PostgreSQL, Oracle, and MS SQL. We are planning to add support for Informix. The recommended server is PostgreSQL.

14.5. What if we want to put the new apache server because the older one has security bugs. What then?
We will provide you with configuration options for most software packages, including apache webserver, qmail with vpopmail, bind, and IIS to perform most of the necessary functions. We don't patch the servers, but configure them in a specific way so you can re-compile/upgrade your version of software.

14.6. Where are all the files on the servers located?
All the files are located in the /H-Sphere/shared & /H-Sphere/local directories.

14.7. Why don't you keep everything in its default location?
H-Sphere files are kept into two separate places that you can move to file servers. This is done to make it possible to migrate to cluster & high availability setup. This requires high priced hardware and a lot of tweaking, please contact sales@psoft.net

See also

Product Page
Doc Home
Online Demo
Installation Request
User's FAQ
Administrator's FAQ

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