Soupin’ it up

by Steve, January 5th, 2009

For the first time in our avocation as a Web publishers, the family server has been upgraded to a brand new machine.

Until the last box could no longer keep up with the load, I was committed to using only discarded hardware running free software to keep the ol’ Wacky Enterprises blog farm humming. I’m still committed to open source software, but ever-increasing traffic had grown beyond the last machine’s ability to cope.

The last straw was when a disk on the old box started showing errors, and the price of a new machine was only a little more than the price of a new disk. Go figure; I guess the time had come.

The new unit features a modern, fast, 64-bit dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. This may not sound impressive, but it replaces a single-core 32-bit machine with 256MB of RAM, which was a replacement for the original box, a 200MHz Pentium Pro with 32MB or RAM.

For the non-nerds, that basically means that performance issues we suffered due to memory swapping on our old machine should be non-existent with this one.

For the nerds, on the old machine I had to tune apache to keep it from spawning too many child processes, lest the machine run out of memory, start swapping, and bring the blog farm to its knees. Even with careful tuning, the old machine was so short on memory, it was constantly teetering on swapping, and I had to have a process monitor the load average and kill and restart Web server processes from time to time. That meant the Web server would get itself wedged into a corner, visitors would have timeouts and authors wouldn’t know if their post got saved.

The new box hummed through its first day today without a hiccup (and without the load average rising above 0.31).

For those who are really interested in the nerdly details, here are the particulars:

  • Intel Core Duo CPU E7300 @ 2.66GHz
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Linux x86_64 (openSUSE 11.1)
  • MySQL, Apache, PHP, WordPress

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