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Memory-Efficient and Fast Websites -- Pick Two!

It is becoming more and more common to pay a few dollars a month to some hosting provider and receive either a virtual server or a dedicated account on a shared machine. This is the lever you will use to hoist your website and take over the world.
As a practical matter, these accounts come with limits. Peak memory usage is one. Available CPU cycles is another. Designing a website to be popular requires an understanding of how to measure and control these factors. What are the trade-offs when using different webservers -- such as Apache vs nginx vs lighttpd -- and different interfaces -- mod_python vs. fastcgi vs. some wsgi interface, in the Python world, for example. These questions come up time and again with the rise of web frameworks encouraging people to launch their dream sites.
In this tutorial, we'll cover ways to measure this usage on Linux: web server memory usage, start-up versus ongoing resource requirements, process states, database needs, the trade-offs when using something like memcache or another caching mechanism to speed up processing. As hosting environments change and hardware becomes more powerful, any precise conclusions will be outdated by the following Tuesday, so we will focus on the "howto" side of things.
Targeted at developers with minimal sysadmin skills: essentially this talk could be subtitled "the minimum sysadmin knowledge you need to be ops manager for your website." Based heavily on experience gained from helping people set up Django sites (the experience being "people need to learn this better"), but relevant to all types of website hosting, since we'll focus on "how" not "what".

Project: Django 


Malcolm Tredinnick

Malcolm has been a happy Linux user since 1993 (well, okay, some of those earlier days weren't all joy and happiness). He spends his days as a consultant these days, but has previously been a developer for financial and stock market software as well as an IT manager, project manager and teacher. In the past he has contributed extensively to the GNOME project, these days most of his free time is spent helping out with Django.

Malcolm Tredinnick

Malcolm has been a happy Linux user since 1993 (well, okay, some of those earlier days weren't all joy and happiness). He spends his days as a consultant these days, but has previously been a developer for financial and stock market software as well as an IT manager, project manager and teacher. In the past he has contributed extensively to the GNOME project, these days most of his free time is spent helping out with Django.

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