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So you think Linux is unproven?

I’ve had arguments at work with one of the managers as to whether Linux is up to the task of running an enterprise-class Web server. When I mention my record with Linux running this site, the manager dismisses it, never mind that this site gets more traffic than a lot of the sites we run at work. So I went looking this afternoon for some sites that run on Linux, Apache, and PHP, like this one does.
I found a bunch of small-timers.

Yeah, small-timers like The Times of London, which runs Apache 1.3.23 and PHP 4.1.1. The New York Post runs Apache 1.3.20 and PHP 4.1.2, but on Solaris. IT rumormonger The Register runs Apache 1.3.26 on Linux, and used to use PHP 4.03 (it’s not reporting a PHP version right now). InfoWorld runs Apache 1.3.26 on Linux. Byte and Dr Dobb’s Journal run on Linux, Apache 1.3.26, and PHP 4.0.4.

I tried a lot of other really big, high-traffic sites like the New York Times and CNN. I found more companies running their sites on Netscape Enterprise Server or Lotus Domino than I found on IIS, and usually running on Solaris.

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15 thoughts on “So you think Linux is unproven?”

  1. A few other high traffice sites:

    Jerry Pournelle: Apache/1.3.26 (Unix) mod_gzip/ PHP/4.1.2 on Linux,

    Rackspace: Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/4.0.6 on Linux.

    Valueweb: Apache/1.3.24 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.8 OpenSSL/0.9.5a PHP/4.1.2 on Linux.

  2. Is Jerry using PHP or is he still serving up static pages? I suspect a PHP-based content-management system would save him a bundle of time. Without one, I know I would have thrown in the towel a couple years ago.

  3. Also Altavista and Google use linux. Two of the most used search engines out there. Niether uses apache though.

  4. We are running IIS at work as well as Microsoft Exchange for mail. I don’t work with these servers (and I don’t want to) but it happens at least a couple times a month that we get mails saying that either service has to be taken down in 5 minutes time for emergency service. On top of that, even if we are armed to the teeth with AV software, three viruses have managed to slip by us, causing us to be without mail for a total of about 4 days.

    If you are running Microsoft stuff for your web needs then your manager needs to get with the times and realize that just because he is paying MS a bundle a year, it does not necessarily make their software enterprise-class.

    Tell him not to take your word for it. Show him the report from Gartner that says that IIS should not be used at all until it has been totally rewritten to write out the bugs. They have said that the security problem is so big with IIS that it cannot be patched.

    Dave T.

  5. How about slashdot? Are they a high enough traffic site? They even survived the crush immediately following 9/11 when cnn, msnbc, etc. couldn’t.

  6. Sorry, missed the bit about PHP. slashdot is a perl site, not PHP.

    How much does the site scripting language affect the machine availability? Seems to me like it would be nearly inconsequential.

  7. The language has a little effect, but far more important are the database backend (whether a true database or not) and the efficiency of the scripts that access it. Sure, a dumb scripting language can be a bottleneck. But Perl and PHP are proven.

  8. Pournelle recently switched his site to a co-located server administered by Brian Bilbrey and Greg Lincoln, which also hosts Bob Thompson’s site, and Bilbrey and Lincoln’s Linux Muse site. That box runs Red Hat, unless they’ve changed it.

    InfoWorld has an interesting opinion piece on using Linux .

  9. Slashdot doesn’t prove anything about PHP since it doesn’t use PHP, but it does prove high-volume sites can run on mySQL.

  10. Here’s another “high volume” site that uses linux.

    I guess your going to be wanting to switch your servers over to windows and IIS Dave. Cause linux just can’t handle it.

  11. Yeah, it’s much easier and safer to install Windows and IIS, and apply gobs of patches. Not to mention write a bunch of nice VBScript. Riiiight.

    The only thing I’ve seen missing from the Apache/MySQL/PHP triad is a debugger for PHP, but I haven’t searched for one. It may very well exist.

  12. Thanks, Ken. I should have said that I haven’t looked *seriously* for a PHP debugger, because – now that you mention it – I vaguely recall seeing a similar environment to Nu Sphere. Maybe it *was* Nu Sphere. And something in the back of my mind tells me there’s a “free” debugger out there, too. As tools go, the $299 price tag for Nu Sphere isn’t bad, though.

  13. An interesting side-note:

    Intel appears to be using a pre-release Internet Information Server 6.0 running on Windows .Net Server for their web site. This is from Netcraft.

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