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

Bitcoin for FOSS Projects

There has been a growing interest among Free and Open Source Software ("FOSS") projects in the use of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and its myriad derivatives (hereinafter "Bitcoin"). However, uncertainty over the treatment of these currencies by US law has dissuaded developers from from using Bitcoin. This post provides some general guidance on the legal consequences of using such convertible virtual currency. Please note that different jurisdictions address the issues related to Bitcoin differently. The comments provided in this post are restricted to U.S. law. If you are uncertain of your legal obligations, contact the Software Freedom Law Center or seek other legal counsel. Read more

Ozon OS "Hydrogen" Alpha Available For Testing

Ozon OS Ozon OS "Hydrogen" alpha is based on Fedora 20 and it uses GNOME Shell and Gnome apps by default, customized with various extensions. The newly released alpha is aimed at developers and ships with only part of the Atom Shell: Atom Dock, Launcher and Panel, so it's not really interesting for regular desktop users. However, the beta (and obviously, the final release) should include a lot more exiting stuff. Read more

Ubuntu Touch RTM Officially Released – Screenshot Tour

In just a few months, two years will have passed since the official announcement of Ubuntu for mobiles and tablets. It looks like Canonical is almost ready to release the OS on a device that's actually selling in stores, and that will be the true test of the new operating system. The first Ubuntu Touch-powered phones are expected to arrive in December, from Meizu, so the release of an RTM version a couple of months ahead of time is actually very good news. In case you didn't know, RTM means release to manufacturing and indicates that a system is almost complete, feature-wise, and that the developers are now only focusing on the bugs and various performance issues. Read more

A Linux love story with real love and romance

Zorin OS had an amazing impact on my relationship. I'm now really well accepted by my girlfriend's family. For an Italian girl this is quite important. They like me and my girlfriend is so so proud of me. Her family already asked me to update all their Zorin version and I'm willing to do it as soon as I can. I love Zorin OS. I feel so grateful to it. My relationship couldn't work better than now. Love you guys for the amazing work you are doing. Hope you never stop. Read more