A word on the technical status of the forum.

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Dale
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Dale »

It's all pretty frustrating to me. It would help to really know what the problem is. Dreamhost support and rich both think the board has outgrown Dreamhost's regular service. Of course, Dreamhost has something to sell me. I've had five or six C&F members in touch with me...maybe 10 by now...and, interestingly, a whole range of theories about the problem and a range of ideas about what to do next. And, here's me, with probably less knowledge than any of these folks about all of this, and so I'm pretty bewildered.

Intuitively, and that's all it is, I think there's a problem with configuration and I think if Dreamhost had adequate service, they could fix it, at least well enough that we could soldier on, giving me more time to seek some kind of permanent solution.

I've opted for the Dreamhost PS solution because they make the change for me and I don't have to take on the task of trying to learn how to move the board and move it at this most inopportune time in my life.

Now I'm about to his SUBMIT and get an Internal Server Error message.
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Azalin
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Azalin »

Well, since dealing with heavy loads on servers is part of my job, and with PHP and Apache, which is actually running this site (I think), I could give you my own thoughts. There are a couple of other techies here(and Rich) and I'm sure they told you the same... First of all, it has nothing to do with the Egypt line or whatever, it's definitely the server. You wouldnt reach the 'Internal server error' if you werent reaching the site becausde of a cut cable :-)

This isnt a database problem either, because you would probably get the famous 'Mysql couldnt connect' error, which happens when the traffic you have on your website is higher than what your database server can provide.

This is in fact an Apache web server error, which means the site seems to be too demanding for the web server. This can happen when the webserver is getting many requests (loading a page) and each request requires the web server to execute PHP scripts, which uses memory and CPU. Since the site is on a shared server, it's probably overloading. (I don't see how having 20 tabs at the same time can be worse than reloading the same page 20 times, the memory usage is going to be on YOUR computer for using too much memory because of many browser tabs, not on the web server).

What is suspicious is that instead of getting a clear message, you're getting 'Internal error'. It might be because the web server is actually running out of memory. If you were on a dedicated server, the server could be tweaked and optimized to run the site, but when you're sharing, you can't.

My own suggestion would be to shop for a dedicated server somewhere, if you can afford, or look at godaddy.com and try to see if what's the best accounts they offer. There are a couple of bad things about godaddy.com, but they might be worth a try because they're usually very cheap and configured properly.
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Denny
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Denny »

first, I agree with Az

second, you have no idea what else the server is doing

third, without access to the server logs there is no way to determine much of anything (past it ain't working)

fourth, it's a lot like the best starter whistle :D
it's not likely that the geeks are gonna agree, especially without the logs
too many variables, shooting in the dark

oh, yeah....ya'd think that there would be a time of day when it work work well if it was a server too busy thing. I've been sickly & prone to hacking in the middle of the night. I doesn't work any better then.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by hpinson »

Agreed. At Dreamhost you are in a (massivly) shared web hosting environment. You get a slice of pie, but please don't ask for a larger slice if needed. Dreamhost is a great value for a small website that does not require high availabilty or near 100% uptime. Likewise with GoDaddy, Bluehost and most similar services for under $25 a month.

Dedicated servers are getting really expensive. 2.5k-10k anually, not including administration. Rackspace.com is a good example. I'm not sure how that could be sustained? Even with donations... Perhaps someone with such a server is willing to donate space and bandwidth?

The middle ground are the virtual servers -- basically fooling one computer into acting as many. They are more scaleable that the Dreamhost class of service, but not as much so as a dedicated server. Usually you can get hosting packages in the $150 a month range, with enough horsepower, memory, and bandwidth to sustain a popular site. eApps and WiredTree are two examples.

In my case, Dreamhost proved to be too unreliable for even a modestly popular site. We also had several hacking incidents, which I suspect are attributable to security problems at dreamhost (lots of users, lots of hackers). We moved away from them because of this.

One thing has changed with Dreamhost since my tenure there, in that they now offer virtual hosting. Perhaps that is what you are upgrading too. It may be an improvement. I do think that their tech support was fairly decent for an email only service, if you knew the right questions to ask.
Last edited by hpinson on Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Mitch »

host sux.

attempt #10 - the server is dropping packets - it sux - pipe to small, processor brain-dead, technicians there for the doh :). tried long technical and nice but got sick of losing text
All the best!

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Mitch »

BTW - I have a suspicion that hosts are the ones hacking each otehr - humans heh - can't see teh boogers on tehir nose for the dirt in their eyes
All the best!

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Azalin »

The sad thing is that most hosts actually suck. The small company where I'm working at depends on a farm of 10-15 servers for millions in revenus (not profit alas) every year. Last week there's a guy at the host company in New York that tripped over a cable, trying to do something on our server (which had not even been authorised by our boss), which shut everything down for more than an hour. This is very, very bad. All hosts suck, there's only hosts that suck less than others.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by MTGuru »

Does anyone here have any experience with theplanet.com as a hosting service?
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by chrisoff »

hpinson wrote: The middle ground are the virtual servers -- basically fooling one computer into acting as many. They are more scaleable that the Dreamhost class of service, but not as much so as a dedicated server. Usually you can get hosting packages in the $150 a month range, with enough horsepower, memory, and bandwidth to sustain a popular site. eApps and WiredTree are two examples.
I'd agree with this, a virtual server would probably be the best fit for the number of users this site gets.

Having said that I don't think you should be seeing these problems for a PHP bulletin board on a shared server. More resources always helps but there's something in me that says it's not the resources thats the problem. Without knowing the precise error that's being thrown it's hard to diagnose. Somewhere in the background there will be a very precise error statement that could be anything, the only reason we're getting "internal server error" is because there's no error handling page configured.

I'd check the phpBB config and the apache config. I'd even try a clean install of phpBB before throwing more money at the issue.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by misterpatrick »

I have used 1and1.com for a long time. They are huge but I have had no experience using them with a site with this much SQL traffic. But they are big and cheap and big and may work for this site. The other big one that has a stellar reputation and offers grid, virtual and dedicated stuff is Media Temple at http://mediatemple.net/. I have not used them but people always seem really happy with their service and a lot of sites I respect use their service. They are also known for very good customer support. 1and1 does fine with customer support but is your typical off-shored go by the book kind of thing.

Just a few thoughts.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by rich »

Just jumping in with a quick update here. Dale and I have been in touch to figure out what to do next, it's mostly just that whole Bad Time Of Year thing.

What's going on at Dreamhost, as best as I can tell, is the combination of several things: a shared MySQL configuration that's not doing the site any favours (especially given phpBB's search implementation), which leads to processes running too long and getting killed, which leads to the internal server errors.

There's really no big mystery as to why it's doing poorly -- Dreamhost isn't designed for sites of this magnitude, which is why I moved from my Dreamhost account to Linode in the first place. Moving back here was a combination of several things: Dale already having stuff hosted here, and hopes that the move to phpBB 3 and to a different cluster at Dreamhost would settle things down. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have done so.

The trick now is to find a managed hosting provider that's the right size for the forums, so Dale can work with them directly to make things run well, instead of just having them tell him that it's running poorly!

In the meantime I'm not sure there's a lot that can be done, but we'll try. Thanks for your patience.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by djm »

I've not had any trouble this evening at all. Has the problem been fixed, or am I the only one on-line tonight?

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Denny »

not quite the only one

it is behaving well right now
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by RVC »

Yep, seems to be working fine for me too.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by MTGuru »

It looks like the server move to Dreamhost VPS (Virtual Private Server) finally took place late this afternoon. Hopefully, this will keep things going for a while. A nice little Christmas present.

Meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! Image
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Joel Barish: Is there any risk of brain damage?
Dr. Mierzwiak: Well, technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage.
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