(Warning: This is a geek post!)
Last weekend, I successfully moved my main Web site, www.jimcarroll.com, over to Linode.com, running on an Ubuntu virtual server. For years, I had been running it on a Mediatemple DV server based on CentOS.
Why did I do this? Speed improvements. And then some!
Mediatemple was a great company with awesome support, but I found over time that my Web site just didn’t operate fast enough — some pages would render slowly — and it would often slow down under the weigh of a stream of a lot of oncurrent users. I’ve been using the handy tool at GtMetrix.com to test my page load times. Things were pretty slow with overall page load times and first byte times — which were always in the range of 3 or more seconds for the former, and 1 second at least for the latter.
As I understood it, the Plesk system used at this version of CentOS simply added a lot of processing overhead ; even if I had no visitors, my memory use was always at 80% plus.
So I started to look around for alternatives about six months ago. Two months ago, I discovered Linode. Great cloud service — pick your operating system, build, log into root, and away you go! Since I had a bunch of Ubuntu servers in my home at one point, I chose to go with that, since I knew how to configure most of what I needed.
And then I discovered Linode’s ‘Stackscripts” — where the user community has put together a variety of custom ‘scripts’ which will pre-intsall your operating system of choice along with your applications/configuration of choice. My blog is based on WordPress — so I needed that. But I also needed whatever I could get that would speed up the rendering of WordPress pages — some good memory cacheing, and cacheing of PHP code so that things would execute faster. And from everything I was reading, I knew I needed to have a Varnish cache.
That’s when I found Paulo Fagiani — an avid Linode fan — and his Optimized WP script. He’s put together a script that installs a Ubuntu server, and then, as he puts it, “installs a pretty, sweet and secure box with nginx + varnish + memcached + php5 fpm + mysql optimized for heavy load wordpress sites.” (I’ll note that I could have chosen a product from Mediatemple similar to Linode – but it was the Stackscripts which sold me!)
One button, and you’ve got a rip-roaring infrastructure that just flies!
It took me a few months, though, to get things right — this is a part time hobby after all. If I’ve got time to kill in an airport, and no pressing client demands, I’ll fire up Terminal and ssh into my Linode. If it’s later in the day and I’m at home in front of the TV on the couch and need to relax — I’ll fire up Terminal and ssh …. (I was just joking with a friend as to how we both suffer from this weird way of relaxing by working away as root on some box somewhere…)
And it took some help – Paolo was magical in how he walked me through various issues. My good friend Akshat Choudhary over at BlogVault.Net — a fabulous WordPress backup service — also patiently provided me some guidance.
And so I went live last Saturday AM, just before going out to do some yard work.
IT”S A BIG CHANGE. I’m getting page load times of <2s for most of my main pages, and first byte load times of .2ms or less. I’m getting hit rates of 99% on my APC cache (for WordPress page cacheing) and 50% for Memcache (which caches everything else – I’ve got to figure out how to improve that.)
Under load testing with the Ubuntu ab command, the site stands up extremely well. So I’m thrilled.
Next project? I’m going to play around with a WordPress PHPFog site over at www.phpfog.com — which promises to do what I’ve got now, but a hugely optimized infrastructure that strips away the last bit of overhead from use of PHP.
So now you know what one of the world’s leading futurists does to relax. But it’s not just that — I’m out speaking to organizations on leading edge trends. In many cases, this involves observations on the impact and evolution of technology. I’ve been a geek for 30 years – I started out with a Radio Shack Model III 30 years ago. I’ve always been deep into the core of systems and technology.
You can’t talk about the cloud, if you don’t play in the cloud!