What a difference two years make

A little over two years ago, I wrote “a post”:/2009/01/26/web-server-software-on-linux/ about my view of the web server software landscape under Linux, concluding with how I’d ended up sticking with Apache despite having tried most of the other reasonable candidates because they all seemed lacking.

It’s interesting in part because I never recorded when I moved that server from Apache to Cherokee (which I had tried to poor results, as noted in the post), which would have been not too very long after I wrote that post. Oh, well.

Anyway, everything ran alright on Cherokee for 18 months or so, but Cherokee wouldn’t let me do per-client bandwidth throttling, which I really needed as Chet’s blog was getting hammered mercilessly by spammers, and I couldn’t figure out any other way to slow them down.

So I switched to nginx, which by now I have a fair amount of experience with, using it for http and imap proxying as well as serving fastcgi apps for other projects. If it weren’t for the decrepit software that Chet and I have been using for blogging for the last couple or three years, everything would have been great (Movable Type–and even its follow-on project Open Melody–has never modernized its low-level infrastructure to allow good support of FastCGI; they’ll tell you they have, but just ask them if you can do XML-RPC–the foundation for remote posting–and watch their reaction).

Still, I’ve made do with a FastCGI shim for Movable Type, and then decided to start looking at WordPress, which I’ve already converted to, and which I think we will get Chet converted to shortly.

Incidentally, I became even happier about having moved to nginx about a week later, when I ran across a blog post from Cherokee’s author, posting a link to “a performance comparison”:http://www.alobbs.com/1390/Linux_Format_benchmarks_Cherokee.html#comments that showed Cherokee beating everything else.

Normally, I would just say “great” and move on, but knowing a little bit about nginx, I was surprised at the version being used, as it seemed a little old. And so I did some more research, and found that the article was comparing an up-to-date version of Cherokee to much older versions of other servers, in some cases versions from branches that had long been declared obsolete. Still, it’s not the fault of Cherokee’s author someone at a magazine did a crappy test.

However, when I presented my findings, and asked him to acknowledge the issue, and call for the author of the article to do better:

bq. Alvaro, I understand that it is nice to see your software perform well against its competition, but I would encourage you to dissociate yourself from this comparison, or at least take it upon yourself to point out that there were some things that may have left your competitors at a disadvantage.

he suggested that he had made any caveats he needed when he said “you shouldn’t expect an extensive, in-depth benchmark” from the “very well written article”, though he did note that “the benchmark results are still fairly representative IMHO.”, and when pressed, said that he didn’t think the results would have changed with more recent versions of the other software.

It took a while to get the taste out of my mouth. I guess I still haven’t, given that I’m posting this.

Anyway, up with nginx.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.

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