Production Server Sysadmin Essentials

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

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Sysadmin Eye for the Dev Guy

Developers! You can churn out a Rails or Sinatra app in no time. What about putting it out there in production? Occasionally forget the syntax for crontab or logrotate? Yeah, me too.

That's why I wrote up a few essential notes for a serviceable production environment.

This article covers Centos/Red Hat and Ubuntu, which is what I always end up on. My approach is to get some minimal configurations working quickly so I can see some results. From there, I can go back and refine the configurations.

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3 competitive advantages of developer-run businesses

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Older baseball players typically have plenty of power and discipline but are slow runners with lower batting averages. It’s kind of obvious: as we get older, we get bigger and more patient, but we also get slower. This characteristic even has a name, described as (you guessed it): old player skills.

Bill James, a famous baseball historian, studied these players and found that younger players that start with these skills fade away faster than than their peers. The players that have long careers are often those that have speed when they’re young and are able to adapt as the gifts of youth fade.

What does this have to do with small, self-funded, developer-run businesses like us?

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What makes a great developer?

By Derek Bullet_white Comments Comments

James Gray, lead developer of the Scout Agent, takes a stab at the eternal question “What makes a great developer?” in the latest RailsCoach Podcast Episode.

Besides talking about Scout’s blended open-source approach to monitoring, James also talks about The Pomodoro Technique (a time management process), his time at the helm of the RubyQuiz, NoSQL, and other topics.

You can listen to the podcast episode here and follow James on Twitter as well.

 

Rackspace & Scout Webinar - Monitoring in the Cloud

By Derek Bullet_white Comments Comments

A couple of months back when we announced our partnership with the Rackspace Cloud I mentioned that 1 of 5 hosts monitored by Scout is in the cloud. Monitoring in a cloud environment brings some unique challenges.

On Thursday, January 21st at 1pm Central I’ll be leading a webinar with Rackspace where I’ll show how Scout makes monitoring your cloud enviroment a snap. Using Scout, I’ll show how to:

  • monitor cloud servers automatically when they boot
  • update monitoring on your entire cluster in one click

In other words, you’ll learn how to get the day off the next time your monitoring infrastructure needs to be updated.

If you’re looking at deploying more of your infrastructure to the cloud and are curious about monitoring solutions this webinar is for you.

 

Free memory on Linux: free -m vs /proc/meminfo

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

How much memory is really available on your Linux box? Don't use /proc/meminfo to find out, use free -m instead. You may have more memory available than you thought.

Here's an example. /proc/meminfo says about 330MB is free:

    ~ $cat /proc/meminfo 
    MemFree:        340996 kB
    ..

free -m gives the following:

    ~ $free -m
                             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:          1024        691        332          0         86        288
    -/+ buffers/cache:        316        708
    Swap:         2047         68       1979

You'll see the "buffers" and "cached" columns, which tell you about the amount of memory that the kernel is using for filesystem buffers, etc.

This sort of cached data will be freed by the kernel when an application tries to allocate more than what is "free", which is why the "-/+ buffers/cache" line is really the important line to pay attention to when you're checking out the free memory on a system.

So in this example, 708MB is how much memory is technically available for allocation should an application need it. The "buffers" (86MB) and "cached" (288MB) will be released by the kernal if they are needed.

All credit for this post goes to Eric Lindvall, who also wrote the memory profiler plugin.

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Production Rails Tuning with Passenger: PassengerMaxProcesses

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

Our co-author today is Jesse Newland, CTO of RailsMachine. Jesse keeps RailsMachine customers up and running and troubleshoots their toughest problems. We’re pleased to have him share some of his expertise on Phusion Passenger tuning.

Say your Rails application is running in production and it’s getting good traffic. Performance isn’t as good you would like. You’ve already determined that your database is not the bottleneck. What’s your next move?

There is a good chance that Passenger’s PassengerMaxPoolSize needs to be adjusted. PassengerMaxPoolSize specifies how many instances of your application Passenger will spin up to service incoming requests. If you were running Mongrels back in the day, PassengerMaxPoolSize is equivalent to the number of mongrels you configured for your app. The value of PassengerMaxPoolSize has a major bearing on your application’s performance.

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