Upsizing Linux Servers Getting Easier

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Super Investing

On Sunday night, we moved NewsBlaze.com over to a new server. A 5405 dual processor quad core with 4Gb ram, running Red Hat Enterprise 5, over at ThePlanet, if you are geekily inclined. Most things went really well, and there were only a couple of php and apache webserver issues.

The last time I upgraded the NewsBlaze server, it took almost three weeks of solid work to get it done. I thought this change might be a bigger problem than the last, so I was prepared for the worst. The new machine has 8 processor cores, the operating system was a move up from Enterprise 4 to 5, the webserver went from v1 to v2, the php (programming language) bumped up from v4 to v5, the perl language was a new release and all of the supporting modules had changes.

Surprisingly, only two minor edits were needed to the .htaccess file, that controls how www.newsblaze.com and newsblaze.com are treated, and the program that handles logins for the story editors failed. Everything else seems perfect.

Now, instead of 80-90% processor utilization at busy times, it is 80% idle. I like a machine like that because it gives us room to grow.

Almost everything is back to normal, except for one thing – and I have no control over that.

I had already changed the DNS Time to Live (TTL) to 10 minutes, a few days before, to help speed up propagation at the changeover. Within an hour, there were incoming calls to the new box. 4 hours later, traffic was 50/50. 8 hours later, just a few stragglers were still on the old machine.

Now it is Tuesday morning and the only calls coming in to the old machine are from our old friend Yahoo Slurp. Wake up guys! It’s been 36 hours since we changed over. We’ve issued 1000 new stories in that time and you can’t see any of them.

In the past 19 hours, Slurp has made 21,982 calls for stories. It doesn’t seem to have as much intelligence as I hoped. Slurp is re-fetching stories over and over again, all the way back to 2004. This may be part of the reason Google is #1 and Yahoo is a distant #2 in search results. In slurping, they are definitely #1, in terms of volume.

I’ll give them another 24 hours to see if they wake up. Wake up Slurp! Just stop drinking the Kool-Aid and sniff the DNS roses instead.

[Update] Wednesday morning – at 10 minutes after midnight, all Yahoo slurping changed over to the new server, except one IP – 74.6.22.177 – and it is still pulling a few stories. Now the onslaught of Slurp has stopped, I can see an occasional call from Becomebot, Brandwatch, Baidu, Matuschek, YodaoBot. Hopefully these guys will wake up tomorrow.

So altogether, it was a great experience. What took 3 weeks last time was achieved in seven days, part time – and that was all to do with the mechanics of moving domains and testing, not investigating and fixing things that broke.

A clear upgrade path is important. The easier the path, the more likely webmasters are to upgrade and keep up with security and efficiency enhancements.

Our thanks go out to ThePlanet for great service and support over the past 4 years and especially for the great deal on this new server that will take us through the next two years (hopefully less). We send a special shout out to Brooke Kyle, the sales rep for following through for us. 281.714.3127

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.