[conspire] Help with lighttpd

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Jan 14 15:38:55 PST 2006

Quoting linux at billsaysthis.com (linux at billsaysthis.com):

> I realize this may be a little off the path but am wondering if anyone
> planning to be at tonight's gathering has successfully configured Lighttpd,
> especially on a TextDrive shared server where the app which will use it is
> not at the domain root, and is willing to help me get this done myself.
> Secondary would be some help getting started with Subversion.

Bill --

We're not set up to help you with the TextDrive hosting service.  You
would have to deal with their technical support.

We'd be delighted to help you configure Lighthttpd, on your Linux/BSD
box or ours.  Again, I hope you don't mean you need assistance
configuring your setup on the TextDrive hosting service.  

My understanding (from your having chatted with Deirdre, and she with
me) is that you are, fundamentally, having hosting-customer problems 
configuring your customer account on one of TextDrive's FreeBSD
5.3-based hosting boxes, where you plan to build a Ruby on Rails app.
(That's interesting stuff, and I'd like to learn it too.)  

My understanding is that TextDrive normally hosts your actual RoR code
with Apache httpd invoking the external Ruby / database stuff via
FastCGI, but that the public actually connects to Lighthttpd, which 
somehow proxies to Apache httpd.  

I'm also gathering that it's possible to, alternatively, dispense with
Apache httpd and run RoR code directly from Lighthttpd, using the
latter's mod_fastcgi feature.

Anyhow, let's get back to your situation:  Although I doubt that anyone 
at the CABAL meeting will have confugured Lighthttpd, it's possible we 
might do so on your or our Linux/BSD hosts, right here in my kitchen. 
If that's actuall _useful_ to you, that might be interesting.  However, 
my impression is that your problem is fundamentally TextDrive-specific, 
and suspect that having gotten it working on (say) my old workstation 
in my kitchen won't help you a lot.  (I don't want to discourage you in
any way; I just wanted to give you the benefit of what I know.)

Also, just to be clear, I have no personal knowledge of TextDrive's
customer setup; I am not among their user population.  However, I've
heard that they have some pretty good setup documentation.

As a separate aside to the mailing list at large:  Another aspect of
TextDrive's situation is relevant to a topic discussed here back
in October:

  Quoting Dan Bikle (dan.bikle at gmail.com):

  > Question:  If you had a choice between FreeBSD 5.3 and 5.4,
  > what would you pick?

  Well, you might hate me a bit for saying this, but I'd go with "Neither
  one:  Use DragonFly BSD, instead."  (http://www.dragonflybsd.org/)

As I mentioned at the time, FreeBSD's entire 5.x series has had some 
significant problems, related to radically new and complex kernel code 
intended to revamp SMP support (which had lagged) and introduce a new
process model to support heavily threaded applications.  

My personal gloss: I think the new threading code was strongly related
to Wind River jettisoning the FreeBSD project, and re-employment of many
core FreeBSD developers by Apple Computer, instead.  Apple has become 
heavily involved with Java (at the expense of their, well, rather more
likeable Objective C effort), Java tends to spawn huge numbers of
threads, and Apple likes to adopt selected bits of FreeBSD work for OS
X's separate "xnu" kernel, which is from NeXT, Inc.'s NeXTStep.
(Nothing wrong with that borrowing; I'm just mentioning it.)

Anyhow, the resulting 5.x instability caused considerable dissention in
FreeBSD ranks, sufficient that the project forked, with fans of the
former (and more stable) 4.x architecture departing with Matt Dillon to 
create DragonFly BSD.

Which brings me back to TextDrive, which had been sticking with FreeBSD
through the 5.x series, but having some serious problems:  Some machines
under heavy load were hanging.  Upon reboot, they then had to go through
very protracted filesystem checks, the delays from which left some
customers very unhappy.  (A journaling filesystem for FreeBSD is in
development, but not there yet.)  Also, TextDrive wanted to deploy some
somewhat exotic hardware (I'm guessing SAN arrays) for which Linux but
not FreeBSD hardware-vendor driver support was available.  

So, TextDrive has announced but not yet implemented a migration from
FreeBSD 5.x to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Julian Elischer of the FreeBSD Project tells me that the FreeBSD 6.x
STABLE series has finally fixed 5.x's stability issues.  I hope so.

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