A few weeks ago I was tasked with moving boards.kusports.com from an old, overloaded XServe to a newly appropriated Xeon box. The boards were notorious for going down after big games and during big news events and usually took other things on the same server down with them.
Thankfully that is no more. A week or so before the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments we finally bit the bullet and committed some time to move the boards over to their own box with more horesepower and more RAM.
I put the ubuntu-server version of Breezy Badger on the box and took the opportunity to see if I could get UBB Threads running under lighttpd and php fast-cgi. I’m glad that I took the time, because it’s smoking fast.
The process was quite painless thanks to the Ubuntu packing system. I had to build lighttpd by hand but everything else was installable with command-line tools (aptitude/apt-get). The changeover process consisted of little more than shutting down the boards on the old box, doing a dump/restore of the database to the new server, updating DNS entries and issuing temporary redirects to get the board users through the day.
The best thing about the conversion is that lighttpd, mysql, and php-fcgi barely register any load on the server, even at peak usage. While we were scrambling with stom coverage the other weekend, the boards box quietly registered a new high water mark for usage. After a painful first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, the boards registered yet another high water mark (1134 simultaneous users). The server barely flinched with a load anywhere from 0.00 to 0.20 with plenty of resources free. Previously a third of that number could potentially bring the XServe to its knees.
While we were turbocharging things, I also installed eAccelerator on the box, which was equally painless and yielded about a 20-30% performance increase.
All in all I’m gaga over lighty, mysql, and php-fastcgi for when the situation warrants it. It really is insanely fast. At the same time I’m really glad that I work in Python all day.