Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Open Source to the Rescue

Filed under
OSS

Who says open source can’t measure up to commercial software for mission-critical applications? Far from being a mere quick fix or low-cost alternative, open source software is helping real-world companies solve their most pressing IT problems.

Perhaps no more dramatic example exists than pioneering social networking site Friendster. When Friendster launched in March 2003, no one imagined that within two years the site would reach 60 million page views per day.

Unfortunately, as the site’s traffic increased, so did its performance issues. The problem, in essence, was that Friendster had unexpectedly become a phenomenon.

“When I arrived it was a crisis point — absolutely, all day, every day,” says Chris Lunt, Friendster’s director of engineering, who joined the company in the summer of 2003. At that time, he says, Friendster’s architecture was nearly breaking beneath the traffic load.

“[Friendster] had taken off much faster than anyone could anticipate,” Lunt says. “We had our millionth user [when] the site had been up only six months. The thing was overwhelmed.”
Friendster’s performance problems needed to be solved, fast. Rather than stick to the paved road of commercial software, however, the company’s engineers took a major risk by betting on the open source application stack known as LAMP, which consists of — and is named for — the Linux OS, Apache Web server, MySQL database, and PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) scripting language.

Fortunately, that gamble paid off. LAMP not only allowed Friendster’s engineers to scale the site’s architecture to address its unwieldy growth, but along the way, they implemented creative configurations that brought the LAMP technologies themselves to a new level.

In founding Friendster, Chairman Jonathan Abrams sought to create an online network through which friends could connect with friends. When it launched, the service was powered by a Java back end running on Apache Tomcat servers with a MySQL database. That original architecture was soon crushed by the coming load of traffic.

During the summer of 2003, Friendster was plagued by performance issues. Often, the millions of users pounding the site where unable to access it, and when they could, results were inconsistent from page to page. User profile changes failed to show up because of lags in the distributed architecture, and messages were dropped.

“If you had a huge network [of friends], you couldn’t search it because just building your list and comparing to the network took longer than the browser would allow you to wait,” says Dathan Pattishall, senior database and software engineer at Friendster. Pattishall joined the company in November 2003 to tackle the site’s database issues.

Tomcat and Java weren’t the problem so much as the fact that the site’s back end was not architected to accommodate millions of users. Friendster had grown to such a huge extent that simply throwing more hardware at the problem wasn’t enough. The site had to be re-engineered to make better use of the hardware and applications.

Of course, that was easier said than done. At the time, Friendster’s IT team consisted of two engineers, and the challenges they faced were daunting.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat and Fedora News

  • Red Hat Adds Common Criteria Security Certification for Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1, the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, has achieved an additional Common Criteria Certification. Enhancing the existing Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ certification announced in October 2016, this certification was under the General-Purpose Operating System Protection Profile (OSPP) 3.9. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was the first operating system to be Common Criteria-certified with Linux Container Framework Support, underscoring Red Hat’s commitment to delivering hardened and more secure IT innovations like Linux containers.
  • ASX Upgrades Its Technical Architecture to Improve Requirements for Business Productivity with JBoss Middleware
  • Fedora 25 Linux Operating System Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Fedora 27
    As of December 12, 2017, the Fedora 25 Linux operating system is no longer supported and it won't receive further updates or security patches as it reached end of life. Fedora 25 Linux was released last year on November 22, and will be remembered as the first release of the GNU/Linux distribution to adopt the next-generation Wayland display server by default for its Workstation edition using the acclaimed GNOME desktop environment. Fedora Project usually provides updates for each Fedora Linux release until a month after the second succeeding version of the operating system is released. Fedora 25 received thirteen months of support, and now that Fedora 27 Linux is out as of November 14, 2017, users need to upgrade.
  • Server Edition of Fedora 27 Linux Is Finally Here, but It Lacks Modularity
    Three weeks after the launch of the Fedora 27 Linux operating system, the Fedora Project announced the release of Fedora 27 Server edition, but it's not what you might have expected.

OSS Leftovers

Openwashing and FUD

today's howtos