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Slashdot Replatforming Complete

PerlJedi (2406408) writes | about 2 years ago

User Journal 26

As of 3:26 PM EST on Wednesday February 1st 2012, Slashdot is now running completely on its new platform!
There were a few rough and long days in the last week completing the final capacity testing and roll out procedure, but it is now complete, and (*knocks on wood*) running smoothly. I owe many thanks to my team of engineers and the site operations team for all their help and support. The Editors here at Slashdot also deserve thanks for their help in testing, and their patience with me asAs of 3:26 PM EST on Wednesday February 1st 2012, Slashdot is now running completely on its new platform!
There were a few rough and long days in the last week completing the final capacity testing and roll out procedure, but it is now complete, and (*knocks on wood*) running smoothly. I owe many thanks to my team of engineers and the site operations team for all their help and support. The Editors here at Slashdot also deserve thanks for their help in testing, and their patience with me as I worked through the more complex pieces of functionality in the site. Though this project took a lot of work, I honestly believe that it was needed in order to allow us to keep Slashdot running, as well as to provide us the structural support we will need to build new features that will allow us to better serve our community into the future.

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Advantages (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902211)

Can you give us some advantages of the new situation? Is there Apache 2.2/MySQL 5.5 stuff you (or the sysadmin) are excited to be using?

Re:Advantages (2)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946333)

The biggest thing I would say is a positive in this move is that we are on regularly supported and maintained versions of the software. Apache 1.3 (what we were on before) is no longer supported by the Apache foundation, and it is no longer getting regular security patches. In fact, we were using a binary which was compiled from source in house, rather than installed via a package manager. Most sysadmins I know squirm a bit (with good reason) thinking about trying to offer long term operational support to systems that rely on third party software that cannot be managed via a package manager, and must be compiled by hand for any updates or patches.
The upgrade to MySQL 5.5 is/was a similar situation. We were running on out-of-date version of mysql, that was compiled in house. We were actually running it on 6 servers, and those servers were having trouble keeping up. The new set up is running on two new servers, backed by RAID arrays of SSD. This setup is having no trouble keeping up with traffic, and has horse power to spare. One of our limitations with the old system was that we were unable to modify several of the larger tables in the database, so when we wanted to build a feature that required an extra column for one of those tables, we have to put the new column in a separate table and use a join. Since we went live on the new setup, I have modified columns on more than one of the tables that has more than 1 million records, the the update completed in minutes, without causing queries to lock up and bring the site to a stand still.

Re:Advantages (2)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38950883)

Nice! Yeah, at work we also had a similar situation. There are some fifty-ish Linux desktops and servers here, and they were running Debian with a custom compiled kernel. There were good reasons at the time, but nowadays, just your bog-standard software is pretty okay, and much easier to replicate as well (for testing purposes and such).

Also amazing to see how you can go from six to two database servers :-)

Thanks for the detailed answer! You guys rock.

Re:Advantages (1)

xwwt (2475904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947451)

Honestly we needed to finally get past old, outdated and some custom built software for a variety of reasons including security and stability - those were main goals. Some interesting, but not unexpected results of the move were that we gained some performance from new hardware and upgrading MySQL, but we gave some of that back in the Apache upgrade. I don't have stats on the number of changes at hand, but this was a significant move for /. and required some significant changes to configuration. We probably made some misses but will be working to make sure we stay ahead of the curve moving forward.

Re:Advantages (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38950915)

Thanks a lot for the answer. Custom built software is usually best for something temporary. We're creating desktop software for Linux boxes and at one point, compiled our own Qt libraries instead of the standard stuff. You always come to regret it, for some or other reason. Nice that you're working ahead of the pack!

Re:Advantages (1)

xwwt (2475904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38953657)

Thanks for the encouragement. I think we all get to the point where we know it is a bad idea to build custom software, or to make that one tweak to a base library just to get a project done - or because we think it will make a big difference in what we are doing. My experience though, has shown that isn't really the best course of action. You get behind, priorities change, business needs change and then *BAM* you are screwed supporting some cruft and continually making patches to that "feature" you couldn't live without. I am sure there were lots of reasons for making decisions around initial architecture and subsequent changes in /., but someone has to pay the bill for bad decisions - you can only delay them for so long. It is important for us as decision makers and technical leaders (community as a whole) to help educate our business leaders about the dangers of building on custom tools on top of packages, or moding packages to meet our needs. It is a double edged sword. If we can maintain the branch and are willing to invest in the branch there is no problem - however we lose the opportunity to leverage new features and better security (and others work) when we diverge and don't keep up.

What happened to journal.pl ? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38911119)

The various ways I used to use journal.pl - particularly the list and edit functions - are no longer valid. Any chance we can get it back? It was really quite useful to be able to see a full list of my journal entry titles, sorted by date, in a single shot. I'm not aware of any way to do that without journal.pl.

Better Service? I don't think so (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936449)

You took away a lot of functions and actually made things much worse. Adding and editing journals is a bigger pain than it ever was. I can't see the list of journals without spending half the day clicking more, more, more... I used to be able to see all of everybody's journals and edit/delete all of mine with a simple http://slashdot.org/journal.pl?op=list&uid=2406408 [slashdot.org] (or any user ID), but you killed it.. Why? Why doesn't http://slashdot.org/users.pl [slashdot.org] work any more? I guarantee you that this is not 'better service'. It certainly isn't slowing down the spammers any. I can only hope you won't start allowing comments to be edited/deleted. Believe me, this isn't helping at all.

Re:Better Service? I don't think so (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38942685)

users.pl seems to take you to a random location. The Slashdot maintainers are either A) incompetent or B) hostile. I think I'd prefer option A since that can be corrected, but either way it's not a good situation.

Re:Better Service? I don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945935)

I'm sorry you are having trouble, but being mean isn't going to be very helpful.

Slashdot is a large code base, and frankly has had some serious issues since long before I got involved. I am trying to fix things, and stabilize the code, but it is not a small job. If you want things to get better, calling us stupid and incompetent is the wrong way to go about it. If somethign is broken, try sending an email describing the problem.

Re:Better Service? I don't think so (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945939)

This was me, by the way... I just didn't notice I wasn't logged in.

Re:Better Service? I don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38946975)

Give me a single example where I called you stupid or incompetent. What you have proven to be with your abuse of the moderation system (over 50 points in a single swipe) is a petulant little child. Makes you feel all big, and stuff, doesn't it? To listen to you cry and make excuses instead of performing proper testing only shows you are inadequate for the job. No, you are not stupid and incompetent. You are pitiful.. And here you have removed all doubt. By comparison, pudge is a zen master. Shame on you!

From your other comment:
And what brilliant mind made that module? Pudge.

Blaming the dead... Brilliant!

-CT

And another thing... (-1, Flamebait)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941279)

You completely broke "Search". I am under the assumption you just want us to use Google from now on.

Re:And another thing... (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946033)

Yes, search is broken, and we have a ticket open to fix it. You want to know why its broken? Because some genius decided not to use the search engine to run searches, but rather to use plain SQL to run searches. The index page uses a query to a search engine, but for some reason search uses plain SQL. And what brilliant mind made that module? Pudge.

Re:And another thing... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38947387)

No, see? You're not getting it. Search was working fine for me right up until very recently. You should change your nick to PerlJudi.. And furthermore, If you can't take the occasional poke in the ribs, you really need to GTFO

-CT

Re:And another thing... (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38948177)

Let me explain this to you like you are a two year old, because apparently that's about how smart you are:
Everything else on the site that needs to search for content uses a search engine, and that is working correctly.
For some reason search.pl does not use a that search engine, and is now broken.
Instead search.pl uses the the "match against" functionality of mysql to search
We recently upgrade to a new version of MySQL
In case you weren't aware, we have no QA team, we only have three engineers, and one web designer. There is virtually no documentation of the system, and what little there is is out of date, and in some cases just plain wrong. We are doing the best we can with the resources we have, and the entire team has worked very very hard over the past few weeks to make changes to the infrastructure without which keeping this site running would have been a nightmare. So yes, I got annoyed by some jerk telling me that I suck, and that all of my hard work was a waste... So you can whine and complain about how slashdot used to be great, and how you miss the old days, or you could try to actually help out by reporting issues that you find. You could try to contribute to the community rather than just whining about how we must miss all the good engineers that used to work here. Or you could just fuck off.

Re:And another thing... (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962797)

Even better: confirming that Malda didn't release further versions of slashcode because it was shite.

Re:And another thing... (0)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962791)

Hmm... finds Pudge to be incompetent... I think I'm beginning to like the new people around here.

Slashcode? (1)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38948521)

Will this new system make it into the Slashcode repository (or something new maybe)?
Slashcode.com and the sourceforge git repository have not been updated since 2009. Will Slashdot no longer be open-source?

Re:Slashcode? (1)

xwwt (2475904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38948769)

Good question. Right now I don't have a good answer. The last update was some time back in 2009 and as you pointed out hasn't been touched since. I am working on the question internally and trying to figure out why it hadn't been updated since I joined the team. I suspect it was due to available time or something but it hasn't been a super focus for the past few months with the porting effort.

Re:Slashcode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38982909)

Test

A serious design question (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38952165)

Why was the decision made to take away previously working functionality? Sure, there was undoubtedly plenty wrong with the code for slashdot before you came on board. However, I can name at least a couple of things that worked that were taken away, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why they were taken away.

The items I am thinking of are related to "journal.pl". I know I was not the only one who used to use it regularly. It was a simpler interface for writing journal entries, for one. That function was taken away as we cannot use journal.pl at all any more. Second, journal.pl also had a list function that allowed us to easily see the titles and dates of all of our journal entries listed out in chronological order. I cannot find any way to do that now that journal.pl is gone.

I would like to know why these functions were taken away, and more importantly when we will have an equally functional way to do the same. The new way to write a journal entry is inferior to the old way, and I cannot find any way at all to display a list of all of my journal entries.

Re:A serious design question (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38952741)

Hi,
I'm sorry, I didn't realize that journal.pl was broken. I will attempt to get it fixed today. As I noted in a previous post, we don't have a QA team, nor do we have a complete list of site functionality. I tested every function of the site I have ever used, and I asked all of my fellow slashdotter's here to do the same. Everything that was tested worked, but clearly not every piece of functionality was tested. If there are other items, please do let us know and we will repair them as quickly as we can.

Re:A serious design question (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38952795)

Ok, I fixed it. Please do let me know of any other problems you encounter, and I will try to address them as quickly as I am able.

Re:A serious design question (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38956873)

Thank you for fixing that, it seems to be back in order. Is there something I could do to get on the testing team? I don't recall ever seeing a call for testing site functionality.

And I apologize if I came across as being too abrasive the first time around. Some of us users are a little jaded at the general approach of "roll out first, test later" that seemed to be so prevalent on slashdot in the not-too-distant past and we may carry with us the assumption - right or wrong - that such a mantra still prevails. I don't imagine that your job is easy with all the varied hands that have mucked with the slashdot code over the years.

Re:A serious design question (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38958107)

No worries. I must admit my feathers were a bit ruffled yesterday.
Thank you for the offer of support in testing. One of the initiatives we will be undertaking in the current year may open the door to leverage that type of community assisted testing of new features and upgrades, so I'll be sure to let you (and anyone else in the community who cares to) know about that when in comes.
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