As an addendum to Shared Hosting Sucks, I’d like to share what my research found and where my new future host will be:
Slicehost.com is a small hosting company located in St. Louis that fits my needs perfectly. $20 a month gets you 256mb ram, 10gb storage, and 100gb bandwidth! Once you pay, you have a choice of several different Linux distributions, of which I chose Debian. It builds the image for you and then within 15 minutes you have a fully functioning server with an IP address and full root access. They have an extremely slick Rails management backend featuring all the important stats about your server, an AJAX command prompt tied to the hardware, rebooting and shutdown buttons, and a great wiki/tutorial section to get you started on securing your server. it’s all very clean and exactly what I need.
One of the other awesome thing is the option to rebuild or switch your distro, not that you would probably use this frequently. Say you get tied of Debian and want to install Ubunto. 2 clicks and it will delete your current image and install Ubunto. So simple!
This really is a great solution for a good price. I can’t to switch, once my current shared hosting contract runs out.