OK, I've done it, I now rent a root server.

The virtualized hosts that have been available looked as if they were highly underpowered. If you share a box with 256 MB of RAM with nine other customers this may or may not work - depends on what the others are doing. Many thanks to all who've responded to my question.

The machine runs SuSE - not exactly my favorite distro - and of course I managed to lock myself out with my very first attempts to use Yast. Far too many services running, too many ports open, and when I tried to change it somehow sshd wouldn't come back again (or my firewall rules have been too strict).

MTA is postfix, which should be OK once I learn my way around it. Spamassasin is installed as well. Apache2 with a load or modules as HTTPd. There also is a MySQL installation that might be needed by the installed confixx software, I'll need to find out.

Once the MTA is up and running the way I want it to work, I'll have to select a blogging backend and (manually, I'm afraid) import what I have. I'm torn between blosxom - which matches my workflow pretty well - and wordpress since it wouldn't require me to think about layouts and styles. I'm no designer at all, in case that isn't obvious from this site's look.

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