[Gllug] GLLUG Newsletter - 19/06/06

Richard Jones rich at annexia.org
Thu Jul 13 21:18:34 UTC 2006

On Thu, Jul 13, 2006 at 04:25:41PM +0100, damion.yates at gmail.com wrote:
> The BBC's forum system used innd at the back, with some in-house perl
> as a thread daemon and mod_perl system interfacing that to provide
> public access.  While I was there we'd also looked for such a beast
> and not found anything like it even though it seemed like the obvious
> solution.  The system it replaced was perl with oracle which Doug
> Winter knows all about ;)  This was a replacement for WebX which was
> just plain commercial carp.

This architecture is by no means unique.  A friend of mine implemented
something which sounds very similar - innd at the back end, fronted by
a web interface written in Perl using Net::NNTP (IIRC).

It was slow and complex (not my friend's fault at all).  Because the
web front end is stateless you need to do a lot of complex caching of
both NNTP handles, lists of groups, lists of articles and (per-user)
lists of read/unread messages in the web layer.  There's a lot of
extra unnecessary work encoding and decoding MIME messages.

I wrote a replacement which just modelled groups, postings and threads
in a SQL database, and used embedded SQL statements in the Perl code.
You can still use the result today if you have an account on
http://www.postmaster.co.uk/ or http://www.schoolmaster.net/ .  The
replacement is a lot faster and simpler.  It would have been even
faster if our nightmare DBA from hell had allowed me to put a couple
of stored procedures in the database ...

> This system lacked the hardware thrown at a competing system from the
> Windows teams, so the new system is Windows based (it had an order of
> magnitude more cpu and ram, but was receiving half the traffic.  It's
> not a surprise it won, but it did help that the Windows lovers
> threatened to resign of we'd kept with the UNIX system).

Glad to see decisions being made on technical merits :-)


Richard Jones, CTO Merjis Ltd.
Merjis - web marketing and technology - http://merjis.com
Team Notepad - intranets and extranets for business - http://team-notepad.com
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