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Important - Please Read! Major Changes Coming!

Discussion in 'Technical' started by John Stone, May 2, 2008.

  1. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    A major new version of vBulletin (the software that is used for the JSF forums) has just been released. There are some really cool new features in this new version that I think you all are going to enjoy a great deal. Just to name a few of the new features:
    • User picture galleries with user comment facility
    • User-created social groups with invite only and moderated membership options
    • Extended member profile pages
    • Customizable member profile pages with admin-controlled styling abilities
    • Inline editing of custom user profile fields
    • Lightbox viewer for attached images
    • Reciprocal friendships between users
    • Public visitor messaging on profile pages with 'conversation' feature
    • Viewable and comparable history maintained for post edits
    • User change history
    • Thread tagging
    • Search cloud / tag cloud
    • Social bookmarking integration
    • Much, much more!
    Don't worry if you don't know what some of that stuff means; there will be resources posted to learn about the new features, and the forum will continue to work pretty much as it always has for those of you who curl up into a tight ball and break a cold sweat at the thought of change.

    While I could upgrade the forum software as it sits right now, there are some recommended support software packages that also need to be upgraded for optimal performance. All these upgrades are non-trivial, and I'm not comfortable performing them on the live servers: the chances of something breaking are pretty good.

    So, all of this leads to taking the next logical step, and that is replacing the aging hardware that runs JSF and the JSF forums, and also the underlying Operating Systems. I've been giving it some thought, and I've decided to scrap everything and give JSF a complete hardware, O/S and software overhaul. This is going to be a huge project, it's going to be expensive and it's going to take some time.

    The first step is I need to purchase two brand new servers. I am still working out the hardware details, but these new servers will be many, many times more powerful than the current servers, they will each have several times the amount (and speed) of RAM installed in the current servers, the new servers will all utilize hot-swappable drives in a RAID 1 configuration for true redundancy and enhanced reliability and there will also be redundant power supplies and redundant network cards.

    For the O/S I'll be using Linux, of course: either Debian, Ubuntu LTS Server Edition or Gentoo. I'm leaning towards Ubuntu or Debian.

    Most of this work will be happening in the background, and will not cause any downtime. First I'll need to get the servers ordered. Once the servers arrive I'll work on them in my spare time here at the house. After I install the O/S & and all the support software, I'll need to get everything configured and tested. After that I'll shut down the live forums, import the existing data into the new system, run some tests and then launch the new JSF! The day of the launch should be the only day with any real downtime.

    This new system will provide a much faster and more enjoyable experience for everyone, and it will greatly increases our ability to handle large amounts of traffic.

    I want to thank everyone who has supported this site financially; these major upgrades would simply not be possible without you!

    If you would like to contribute, now would be a great time to do so. Details on upgrading your membership can be found here.

    I welcome suggestions and comments from my fellow techies with regards to hardware and software.
     
  2. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    Here is the hardware configuration for the two new servers:
    • CPU 1: Quad Core Intel® Xeon® E5420, 2x6MB Cache, 2.5GHz, 1333MHz FSB
    • CPU 2: Quad Core Intel® Xeon® E5420, 2x6MB Cache, 2.5GHz, 1333MHz FSB
    • 16GB 667MHz (8x2GB), Dual Ranked DIMMs [UPDATED]
    • PERC6i SAS RAID Controller, 2x4 Connectors, Int, PCIe, 256MB Cache, x6 Backplane
    • 2x146GB 15K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 3Gbps 3.5-in HotPlug Hard Drives [UPDATED]
    • 2U Rackmount case
    • Redundant Power Supply with Y-Cord
    • 2xIntel® PRO 1000PT Dual Port Server Adapter, Gigabit NIC, Cu, PCIe x4
    The web server (Apache/PHP) and the backend server (MySQL) will have identical hardware.
     
  3. jk0

    jk0 Elite Member
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    If you're anything like me you'd like Debian better than Ubuntu. Ubuntu is great for a desktop distribution but it just rubs me the wrong way for servers. They pack it full a bunch of crap that shouldn't be there in a fresh install. Debian is a great vanilla platform to start out on.

    Gentoo on the other hand... I guess it's nice if you don't mind compiling everything (not that you're not already aware of that). It's caused me more headaches when a package breaks or fails to compile than anything else. Now days it's just not worth the hassle. You wont get any extra performance benefits compiling everything like you would have a few years ago.

    What kind of hardware are we talking here? Have you considered virtualization? Buy one nice server with 16GB of RAM and go nuts. VMware Server and ESX (especially) make me :drool:.

    EDIT: I see you just posted hardware details. With another 8GB of RAM that would make one hell of a VM host. :nod:
     
  4. M@

    M@ Monster Maker 2017

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    Make sure u have enough bits and bioses for everything. :nod:
     
  5. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    This would be my first use of Ubuntu Server. I'd heard the LAMP install of Ubunto is pretty clean. That's not the case?

    It's been years since I've messed with Debian. How the PMS these days?


    Yep. The current servers run on Gentoo, and while I once thought it was a solid distro, it's sort of lost its way over the years. I'm ready to give it the boot.

    I like VM, too, and I think it's a good way to go in some cases but I really like running two physical servers. If one fails, I can use the single server to keep things running.

    I'm about to edit the hardware specs. I'm going to bump to 16 Gigs of RAM and lose the SATA drives for 15k SCSI drives. :D
     
  6. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    Don't get all technical on me please! :o

    BTW, thanks for yet another donation (M@ already had a fully paid Platinum membership, and he just added another year to it). :)
     
  7. jk0

    jk0 Elite Member
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    Ubuntu Server is a nice distro but I wouldn't consider it production quality. Its standard LAMP install is pretty clean compared to others but at the end of the day it's just a pre-configured Debian where they try to guess what you want. They try to make it too easy... which is good for beginners. Probably not the greatest for advanced users. I'm not comfortable with some of their default configuration settings either.

    Debian's PMS is great. Apt simply rules. The older package manager (dselect or whatever the hell that piece of crap was) is still there if you want it but Apt is the core. I swiched back to Debian (from Ubuntu Server) when Etch was released. In fact Ubuntu uses the exact same thing (again, it's just a glorified Debian). I would definitely play around with both of them before making a final decision.
     
  8. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    Awesome, that's just the kind of feedback I was hoping for. Thanks, Josh. I'll definitely give Debian a strong look.

    I'm about to purchase the two new servers, configured exactly as I indicated in my second post. :spaz:

    Before I pull the trigger, does anyone else have input relative to the proposed hardware specs?
     
  9. gazareth

    gazareth Senior Member

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    Get a case with flashing neon lights and a cowbell :spaz:
     
  10. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    The new servers have been ordered! :spaz:
     
  11. inst

    inst Active Member

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    www.johnstonefitness.com

    have you thought about putting a publishing system on your homepage? it'd be nice to be able to post comments on your daily news updates or be able to subscribe to feed.
     
  12. gazareth

    gazareth Senior Member

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    You can probably get (or build) a VBulletin plugin that displays a "news" page based on the contents of a particular sub-forum. I know it's available for some of the PHP-based applications.
    That way, you post a new news item to the sub-forum that you specify in the plugin (in this case, "Daily updates" or something), and the front page would then update accordingly, simultaneously allowing people to comment on it directly in the forums.

    Just a thought :)

    (agree on the RSS feed) :D
     
  13. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    I have, but a comment system on the main page would create some overlap with the forum, which is presently used (to pretty good effect) to discuss my daily updates.

    It's a subject that deserves more discussion, but that is something apart from all these upgrades and can be added later. The project I just started is going to keep me busy for quite some time!
     
  14. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    An idea worth looking into for sure, but it's going to have to be addressed down the road a bit.
     
  15. NCNBilly

    NCNBilly Well-Known Member

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    I think VM for your web/application servers is pretty nice - your backup consists basically of moving a single file to another server, making a few IP changes on the host and you are essentially done.

    VM for the database side is usually asking for trouble (IME) - the amount of disk I/O and memory that a highly used database requires usually takes it to the point where virtualization doesn't make sense.

    Of course, I'm pretty biased since I'm a DBA by trade and hate to see any apps at all on a DB server.

    Depending on usage, you might want to consider keeping all the DB files on a separate RAID array (on another controller, too) altogether so you aren't competing with the OS. You may also be better off with Raid 5 than 1, depending on the read vs. write %.
     
  16. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    Yeah, the database server is dedicated to that one task. Other than a few administrative/security packages (iptables, SSH, Apache for PMA) that's all the server does.

    In the event of a complete server failure, the other server can step in and perform all duties as a short-term solution until the bad server is repaired or replaced.

    That's a bit overkill in this case.
     
  17. DFS

    DFS Well-Known Member

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    When did we stop speaking English around here?

    I like to fancy myself "computer literate"...do I have to rethink my position since 90% of what's been said in this thread is foreign to me?

    Great work John, you do great things around here and to know you are still motivated to upgrade and grow is a wonderful thing! :)
     
  18. NCNBilly

    NCNBilly Well-Known Member

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    You should see the server cluster I spec'd out for the new 911 center. :D
     
  19. probelia

    probelia Active Member

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    I'd have to echo the sentiments about using Debian for the OS on the new servers. I've been using Debian on production servers for a little over five years now and I love it.

    Having said that, I'm not the one going to be administrating it. I just wanted to fly the Debian flag.:D
     
  20. Masher

    Masher Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend Ubuntu. Perhaps they do make it easy, but isn't that how it should be?¿ Everything is fully reconfigurable, as is any Linux distro, if anything turns out to cause a problem for you. Remember that there are two different types of Ubuntu: one built for desktops and the other built for severs. (Actually there are many different types but let's not get pedantic).

    We're arguing over two types of Debian here anyway. You should be able to use debian packages on an Ubuntu server, but not necessarily vice versa. Ubuntu is by far the most popular Linux distribution at the moment and the one where you'll need to do the least compiling from source if you're installing any strange applications.

    To declare an interest, I deleted Windows on my laptop and desktop and now use only Ubuntu desktop edition.

    Unless you really need in at the guts of the system, I'd recommend Ubuntu.





    . . . and it's got wobbly windows that rulez!! lololol!!!111 (jk :) )
     

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