Maintenance during the weekend

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 pm, May 27th, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: admin - Tags:


During the weekend, amongst the other chores, the system will get an operating system upgrade. I’ll also be doing a general check for filesystem errors and look for stray files accumulating after its first 30 odd days of operation.

In theory, this should only result in a few minutes of outage. In practice it will probably have the usual unexpected issues and take a bit longer. So don’t get alarmed if the site disappears for a while on saturday midday (one of our lowest loading times in reasonable hours).

I was hoping to upgrade to WordPress 3.0 at the same time (the beta works great), but the final release hasn’t come out yet. So that will have to wait.

I have to say that so far I’m really happy with this new server. The only hassle has been some moron in San Antonio, Texas flooding us with ping backs. I’ve now blocked anything that has a similar profile, and barred some of the more persistent ping back offenders worldwide. By doing it when they touch the web server rather than after they access the sites code, there has been a noticeable reduction load.

27 comments on “Maintenance during the weekend”

  1. infused 1

    You will have to pickup on my other comment. I always like your comments regarding the server. I assume this is a vm of some kind?

    I like the reverse dns 😛 That aside, why the need for a checkdisk? Why is the server crashing on high cpu load?

    Why 21 hops?

    All for keeping jobs in nz, but you source your server from overseas 😀 Good one 😀

    SSH is nice and open btw.

    • Ryan 1.1

      Hmm… so they’re outsourcing their web hosting? Do as I say, not as I do.

      • Marty G 1.1.1

        outsourcing is when a company takes part of its activities and gets another company overseas to do it.

        We were always going to need to buy server from somewhere. This was the best, most reliable deal. Free trade baby.

    • lprent 1.2

      Shifting from the other post…

      This site has been running on effectively a single shared CPU with 256MB of RAM in a virtual server container up until this year (in 2008, I bumped it up from 128MB). I bumped it to 512 at the end of last year. Now it is on 2GB and multi-core Xeons quite different

      Last time I looked at hits (we usually look at page impressions instead) was at the start of last year when it was getting a million or so per week. Traffic has jumped since then.

      Count the number of links per page, including in the comments. It’d be rare when a post + comments don’t have at least 20 links in it. Some of the posts with hundreds of comments will have a lot more, especially the climate change ones.

      As I said you’re looking at a system in IIS that runs well when given heaps of resources which I couldn’t afford

      Try running IIS6 + windows of your choice in 256MB with a active dynamic website on top of it. Don’t even think of putting IIS7 on it you can’t push the required OS into that.

      • Ryan 1.2.1

        Why are you running WordPress on a Windows server?

        • lprent

          I’m not. Infused was asking me why I wasn’t running it on IIS.

          But you’re right – WordPress is a bit crippled on IIS. Found that out when I ran it in a Dual CPU windows 2003 server at home for a while Bloody thing was a pain in the arse,

  2. infused 2

    False. My company does outsourcing. We outsource IT. We don’t outsource it overseas.

    • lprent 2.1

      We looked at local, in fact we ran local until the start of 2009. But basically we needed better knowledgeable support.

      Had a look at NZ sourcing when we did this new server. Could finally get the type of support we needed here at a reasonable price.

      But there was a wee clause in the contracts which on further investigation essentially said that if they got a complaint about the site from a lawyer that we’d have to remove the offending material or have the site taken down. That was regardless of the validity of the complaint. The redress was to go to court to prove the complaint was invalid – taking quite a few months. That wasn’t acceptable.

      There are similar clauses where we are now. However you’d have to apply in the legalese of the state that it is in – ie hiring a lawyer there rather than having local lawyer mate do it. That makes the cost of a nuisance complaint somewhat higher.

      • infused 2.1.1

        I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse. There are pleanty of NZ hosters that would not have held you to ransom like that.

        • lprent

          Yeah – find one? For about $250 per month. How many minutes of legal advice is that?

          I am quite specific about the type of questions of ask the hosters. They are the various ‘legal’ threats that we have had over the years.

          Think it through…

        • Marty G

          to get a site kicked off the new zealand servers we looked at all you have to do is claim it’s saying something defamatory.

          simply doesn’t meet our needs because the right would just make false complaints and keep us offline.

          • infused

            Seriously. Get a good host and that wouldn’t happen.

            I know, been there done that.

            Without much effort you can find the site I run. Probably the busuinesses I run too.

            The site I run most probably host the most questionable material in NZ.

            • lprent

              It isn’t a question of the content. We’re almost always well within the legal bounds. What I’m concerned about are nuisance complaints that have no basis, but will force the hosting company to expend legal resources and time. We’ll get them because there are a awful lot of people around who’d prefer that this site didn’t exist.

              In my opinion, based on the way that the right have previously behaved about this site, if we were hosted locally then there would be one or more attempts to close us down or stifle what we have to say coming up towards the next election.

              But I can’t see a good reason to expose friends and hosts to that, if all it takes to prevent that it is a minor payment every month and offshore hosting.

              If the site gets big enough and makes sufficient money that we can afford to set up the site on our own link and hardware, then we will resite here. In that case we’d force the complainants to put anything that is questionable in front of a court for determination. We would also be looking for costs plus damages if they fail to make a case, in fact I’d be interested in appealing low awards so we get some case law on nuisance complaints.

  3. infused 3

    Well, my site, has 2xdual core xeons @ 3.0ghz (4 cores), 2gb memory.

    Here are some stats:

    Feb 2010 747912 157.52 GB
    Mar 2010 820433 149.09 GB
    Apr 2010 639627 129.30 GB
    May 2010 510310 100.70 GB

    I\’m strugging to find why your server is stressing so hard, since the requirements under linux are probably 50% less.

    This is a Windows 2008 R2 server as well.

    Also, why host overseas? Keen to know. Since you support keeping everything here. Castle as well? sheesh.

    • lprent 3.1

      Replied above. It is more the legal question. But I’ve found the tech support for linux to be better as well.

      Your volumes are somewhat higher. I think that we’re hitting about 80-100GB at present (with a cap of 750GB).

      Your hits are well below (I’d have to look them up). Have a look at the front page sometime and figure out how many links that there are. It is all of those thumbnails. Of course most of the links are serviced with a 304 because I tuned the site that way (my .htaccess is pretty specific).

      However the pages themselves is highly dynamic. Every time a comment is changed then so is the main page. That is why comments are locked after a month. It minimizes bot traffic, and we tell the well-behaved bots what pages to fetch with what frequencies..

      • infused 3.1.1

        Ah lprent, you don’t bite. A couple of questions.

        1) I believe you’re wrong about NZ hosting. Most of the people I know, know more about Linux than Windows (bare in mind, I’m talking about sys admins, not average joe).

        2) Stored procedures? Maybe it’s time to move the DB to a seperate server

        At the end of the day, I believe if you guys are going to be preaching about keeping it in NZ, you should move your server and show your support. DPF has his here. I’m sure someone is willing to host it. I bet I could. If I can, I bet many others can. In the ISP arena, NZ has some huge talent. You should really explore it.

        My server was donated for free, my hosting is donated for free. My site is operated for free, with no ads. 100mbit, no limits on data. You need to ask around.

        • lprent

          DPF has a mate that runs his servers under some kind of special arrangement. You can see the companies ad on the site.

          We could probably talk our way into something. But really none of us has the time in real life to chase that kind of arrangement.

          It is simpler in my already cluttered life to pay a few hours of work value than it is to spend more hours running around looking for a cheaper local deal or sponsorship. Same with everyone else who writes here. We’re far more interested in writing posts than cozying up to anyone.

          It took us more than a year to find the time to put advertising on the site – and that was with the advertiser wanting us to do it. None of us had the time.

          There are no stored procedures. It is running on a bog standard WordPress system with our own theme and a pile of plugins.

          Besides, if you remember – what was the reaction when we did site on a donated system at the start of 2008? We had bozos like you running around saying that the sky had fallen. In fact I can probably find your exact comments at the time.

          I had Whaleoil going off and attacking the company that I had used to work for. Why? Because they were acting as my secondary DNS (and I theirs), when I wasn’t even working there. With a pile of fools on wingnut sites crowing in behind in the usual braying pack of mindless lynchers.

          I’d prefer The Standard to stay quite independent, not beholden to anyone who can be pressured, and out of easy legal targeting range. The wingnuts taught me that during that episode – they would literally do damn near any underhanded tactics to get the site down. It is easier and safer for the site to run off shore than dealing with the fuckwits attacking friends and allies here.

          You notice that with the exception of Whale (who finally had a totally justifiable defamation suit against him, and an even more justifiable court action now) that the same attacks are not mounted against the sites on the right? That is because the left tend to be fundamentally more civilized and committed to open debate.

          Basically, I’d have to say that right and especially the wingnuts are fundamentally uncivilized as a group when it comes to freedom of speech for people other than themselves. Sort of a mutual bully sub-society.

  4. Jim Nald 4

    I’d like to make a donation but not via online.
    I’d be happy for you to send your bank account number to my email.
    I might as well donate what I would have subscribed or intermittently pay re newspapers.

    captcha: pay
    (yes, you are psychic)
    (forgot to type captcha, trying again .. captcha: standard … yes, The Standard)

    • lprent 4.1

      Always happy to take money for the server. I’ll send you the details for The Standards new bank account after I dig them out again

      • Jim MacDonald 4.1.1

        No need to publicise it and you can just email it through if you prefer.

  5. Brett 5

    Basic stuff I know but have you set you geographic target to New Zealand for google? otherwise it defaults to whatever country your site is hosted in.

    • lprent 5.1

      Yep, it is quite aware of the country that the site is for (you can see it if you look at searches in NZ vs elsewhere). The google bots are very very well behaved – they follow the hints that we give them. So do slurp and bing and most of the majors.

      Unlike others where I had to put limitIPconn on to stop one bloody bot from using over a hundred simultaneous connections at a time to suck data off the site. The site now limits to 16 connections per IP, and another system looks at the number of connections from an IP over a 15 minute period.

  6. jcuknz 6

    All the above is way way over me, I just want the site to stay running, so best wishes for the weekend 🙂

  7. lprent 7

    Upgrade went well. Did it this morning because I’m finishing up at work with a half day which would run through midday. Start at the next project on Monday.

  8. Turn off the TV 8

    Have you tried ??

    Are you using a PHP accelerator of some kind?

    • lprent 8.1

      APC. It was the most stable out of the ones I tested. Made a significant difference to the speed in serving the pages.

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