Darrel Clute

Ramblings from yet another IT Professional

16 September, 2008

Server Reloaded

By Darrel Clute · Read time: 3 min.

If you noticed for a little over a week this site was offline. The reason being that my colo would not boot into the kernel any longer, even after much troubleshooting. This colo has been running Gentoo and Xen since it was put online. Now I know what the technically inclined out there are going to say, Gentoo is not a server OS, and I'd agree. So why was I running Gentoo on a server then?

Over the past several years I've used a number of different distributions of Linux. I started out with Mandrake (now Mandriva), and have worked with Red Hat, Debian, SuSe, Linux from Scratch, Gentoo and CentOS. I've also used a number of commercial UNIX operating systems and BSD variants. My varied experiences, especially with binary distributions, have generally left me wanting or requiring me to build the software I want to utilize myself to get the functionality I was looking for. I had used the BSD variants prior to trying Gentoo and liked the ports system and its flexibility. What really attracted me to Gentoo was that it was build from source like Linux from Scratch and utilized portage, which is similar to ports from the BSD variants, as a package manager. I've used Gentoo on my workstations and server since beginning work at Liquid Web and have become very comfortable with it.

The primary reason that I put Gentoo on this server initially was to test out Xen to see if it was something that I would want to utilize moving forward. At the time Xen was still a fledgling technology and the best tutorials were for Gentoo therefore that was the OS I chose to get things online as well as test. Recently I began running into issues with the server install and began looking at reloading the OS on the server. I had been working on replacing the child instance with Debian because over the past couple of years they've gotten better and keeping up with more recent releases of software and their compile options were nearly the same as those that I was looking for but not in most other distributions. Gentoo served its purpose and allowed me to test out Xen and become familiar with it. I decided to reload the server using Debian with Xen. The install was fairly quick, after getting the data backed up, and I had the server up and running in little time.

I reallocated space compared to how it was initially. Instead of running Apache as the web server I'm now utilizing LigHTTPD as the web server. The memory foot print is lower and it is faster. In the reallocation I made sure that I designed things a little better, PHP is now run as a FastCGI process on an instance separate from the web server. I also have an instance setup specifically for running Django as a FastCGI as well. Each instance is stripped down minimal installs with just the software necessary and running as few processes as possible.

Everything is back up and running at the moment and hopefully will be more stable. Now that I've gotten things squared away with this server itself and version 1.0 is released I can start working on my Django application to replace Drupal.

About the Author

Darrel Clute

I am an IT Infrastructure Architect, with a focus on bridging business needs together with data center usage. I bring a cross functional focus on Network, Security, Virtulization, and UNIX Systems Engineering, trying to bridge the gaps between the disciplines. I am a strong proponent of automation and orchestration, with a focus on using the same toolsets across disciplines. I also advocate for Open Source software use in the enterprise as well as for by individuals.