Apr 27 2009
By: Jon Gales
This week’s PowerUser Monday is brought to you by Scott Kelby’s Macintosh
The Naked Truth. Read MacMerc’s review of it here.
If you have a story suggestion, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week I covered the WWDC Keynote speech live (from the satellite feed
shown at the Tampa
Apple Store). If you missed it and live in a cave, here’s
Like all of our live events it was a complete blast–we had tons of people
to enough people to sell out a basketball arena. The most amazing part
of all is that MacMerc is completely housed on a single shared server from
the fine folks at ActaDivina.
could go on and on, but pictures are better than words. Seen at right what Webalizer made
of our traffic spike. The bright blue bar is pages (the main focus of this
article). That spike is pretty impressive… It’s roughly 20 times above our
average. So, what’s the secret to being able to handle the load? Static pages
Most of the cool features on MacMerc are made possible because of the
cool technology behind it. On any given news article you can comment, moderate
sometimes even vote in a poll. On stories like this one you see "blocks"
on the right hand side that give you access to some cool stuff. If you’re a
member (it’s free), you can even see how many people are currently at the site.
On any given page
load, we have server-side code that talks to our database and fetches the
data, formats it, and then exports it off to your browser. It’s all pretty
it takes a lot of power to run. I made the decision a long time ago (right
after our server crashed during the iTunes Music Store announcement I believe)
that we would never try live coverage again without going static.
I wrote a
special content management system just for the keynote coverage. It
and makes a static page as output. It’s also a time saver because it writes
all the time stamps and mark up for me. I just plug and chug. This was the
only scripting going on for the whole site, and only I was using it.
What’s the difference
between static and dynamic? When you accessed us during the keynote
still… No server
happened. Your browser said, "Give me the index page" and our server
"here it is".
To take it a step further, I used mod_rewrite to forward everyone but myself
to the static index page. So if you typed in:
You would see the same exact thing as everyone else. This is so we can assure
that the server is JUST working on shoving out the index page. The only person
that wasn’t seeing this page was me because I was doing the play-by-play.
So how did we do? Well here are some numbers/facts:
- At our peak we were serving 150,000 pages an hour
- That peak works out to about 40 pages a second (you should see this fly
by on the terminal… really something).
- With almost 500,000 pages served, we only went through about 5 gigs of
bandwidth (the page was REALLY optimized). Not having any images really helped
things move smoothly.
- We still almost got nuked. The highest load average (via top in the terminal)
I’ve ever seen happened during our peak… Over 100.
- For a few hours we made Slashdot look
like a Geocities page. Felt quite good. I felt tempted to try and crash someone’s
site… Start a tradition of being "Merc’d".
If you’re looking for a host that can handle peaks, check out ActaDivina (nope,
we don’t get anything if you sign up… we just like them). They were superb.
They noticed the peak and streamlined Apache to make things
a little more smooth. Didn’t even have to ask them. If you got any questions
(or suggestions, we are going to be doing this again the
me know. If you’re going to be having a similar event and want to find
out more about the content management system that I wrote, feel free to ask.