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Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

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Lessons from Hosting a Website

You might have noticed that the getahead.org domain has been replaced by directwebremoting.org. There’s a story behind it ...

picture of a server

3 years ago when DWR started to be successful, I bought 2 identical servers, built them identically with the latest Debian, and latest Drupal, bought some hosting space for one of the servers and kept the other at home as a backup with a nightly rsync, and thought I was doing a good job of managing a website.

The first thing to go wrong was Drupal dropping support for several of the modules that we were using: the theme engine, and the wiki module. So we were stuck on an old version of Drupal unless we spent lots of time recreating the themes and updating all the content. Lesson: 3rd party modules are OK but don't depend on them in a big way.

We realized we needed to upgrade, but it was a big job and when I began talking to the Dojo Foundation about them hosting DWR and talking to SitePen about me working for them, it seemed sensible to do the upgrade when we moved to Dojo Foundation hardware.

Then the backup died. Is it just me or does everyone assume that the live server will die first? We hoped that we could get everything onto the new hardware before the live server died.

The bad news is, but if you buy identical bits of hardware, then there is a good chance that they will have identical failings. That proved to be true in our case and we ended up with a huge rush to get everything moved to new servers, which included a fair bit of downtime. Sorry if it affected you.

I’m not sure if this is a reason to buy different hardware, where do you stop after all? Do you insist on different copper vendors for the power cable? The lesson is - if you discover a hardware fault in some part of a live site, the same thing is likely to happen to other identical hardware.

The good news is that the DWR website is now back on new hardware and a new URL. http://directwebremoting.org/dwr/. We’ve tried really hard to ensure we’ve got re-directs for all URLs, but please give us a shout if you notice that anything is 404ing.

Read the original blog entry...

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