Under new management (how to replace the computer OS while it is running)

The server hosting the domain sspaeth.de had to move as the old provider closed down. It’s on a vServer hosted by 1blu.de now. I chose them due to their low price and a traffic flatrate, however my experiences have been mixed. The hotline guys are friendly and they have a regular phone number for it. However, I am not sure how competent they are: e.g. the rescue console doesn’t work (the rescue system starts but the server log shows that ssh is not enabled, so you can’t log in and they are “waiting for patches” from Plesk, the vserver admin software. Damn, can’t they enable the ssh service themselves? So once the operating system goes down, you’ll basically have to reinstall the server.

Also they only provide a Suse 10.0 installation, and as there is no “repair mode”, it’s hard to change that. I am not familiar with Suse, and I don’t liked it too much. The console version of yast, their admin software, sucks badly. Also the package management was really bad, dependency handling drives one crazy and they include tons of unneccesary dependencies (I was never able to uninstall the graphical Xserver for a computer that doesn’t even have a monitor attached). I was also unable to update to a newer version of Suse: their is no apt-get dist-upgrade and after upgrading the packages, it would not start anymore. I did not even bother to ask the helpline guys for help. To cut a long story short, here is what I did:

I took a statically compiled busybox (a kind of swiss-army knife for computers) and used that as my login shell. I then removed the complete operating system (exept the busybox binary) while the computer was running it. Next, I installed a Gentoo Linux image in the same place, configured a bit, rebooted… (my thumbs still hurt from crossing them so hard) and …. it worked! A friendly Gentoo Linux shell greeted me on login.
Yay! Now I am back on a Linux distri that I am familiar with and that only installs the stuff I really need. Puuh, now back to do real work!