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

Kernel Space/Linux

Distros for Games

  • Editorial: Valve have not abandoned SteamOS or Linux, things are looking pretty good
    To re-iterate something I've said every time: SteamOS was never, ever going to be an overnight success. New platforms generally take quite some time to make a difference, but SteamOS has already made a massive difference to Linux gaming.
  • Meet Manjaro Linux Gaming 16.06, an Arch Linux-Based Distro Designed for Gamers
    Today, May 30, 2016, we would like to introduce our Linux readers to an upcoming edition of the Arch Linux-based Manjaro Linux operating system designed for gamers. Meet Manjaro Linux Gaming, a special flavor of the popular Manjaro Linux distribution built on top of the latest Arch Linux technologies, using a highly customized Xfce desktop environment with a dark setup to make it easy on your eyes, and preloaded with some of the best open-source software for gamers.

Upcoming Linux Events

  • Join the Linuxing in London Event to Celebrate Linux, Here Are All the Details
    I recently had a quick chat with Linux evangelist Brian Byrne, known by many as Brian Linuxing, who invited me to an upcoming event that I want to tell you about in this short and painless blog entry. The event is called Linuxing in London, and it is the first of its kind for those who live in London, England, or surrounding areas. It is a Linux event for those who are curious about Linux as an operating system for their personal computers, but also for vendors who want to distribute a free OS with open-source software on their devices.
  • ContainerCon and LinuxCon Japan 2016 Events to Take Place July 13-15 in Tokyo
    The Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization, trying to promote Linux and the open source ecosystem among IT professional, computer manufacturers, and enterprises, announced two important upcoming Linux events. LinuxCon Japan 2016 and ContainerCon Japan 2016 are two of the most anticipated Linux conference events in Asia, promising to bring together top experts from all over the world, including, but not limited to kernel developers, system administrators, IT industry leaders, community managers, and last but not least users.

Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10 and 8.5 Receive the Latest Security Fixes, Update Now

A lot of good things are happening lately for the Debian-based Parsix GNU/Linux operating system, and the distribution's maintainers announced a few hours ago, May 29, 2016, the availability of new security fixes for supported releases. Both the stable Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 "Atticus" and the upcoming Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10 "Erik" operating system have received important security fixes for various core components, including expat, libgd2, libndp, ImageMagick, libidn, jansson, IceDove, libarchive, QEMU, Wireshark, librsvg, WebSVN, libxstream-java, xerces-c, swift-plugin-s3, and atheme-services. Read more