Server order

New servers to deal with performance issues

The Wikimedia Foundation placed a substantial order for new computers last week after having placed a smaller order in December. The new equipment is needed to cope with Wikipedia's constant traffic growth and recent performance struggles.

Last Friday, developer Jamesday posted information on an order of new server hardware to help run Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation websites. The order includes four computers to be used as Apache servers, plus an additional six to provide a squid cache. He also announced that all Wikimedia sites were now on a one gigabit internet connection, upgrading from the previous 100 megabit connection.

At the same time, several existing computers are not in service and in need of repairs. Although they are under warranty, nobody has been able to get them fixed yet.

In other developments, the bug in the unblocking function and the display of the block log (see archived story) was fixed last Friday with another upgrade to the MediaWiki 1.4 software.

Staff hiring discussed

The need for on-site server maintenance prompted Wikimedia CFO Daniel Mayer to suggest that the Foundation considering hiring its first paid staff to handle this aspect. He indicated that the Foundation had money available to do this and was also planning a fundraiser in February, commenting, "Whenever we need money we have been able to raise it."

In response to this proposal, Sj raised concerns that the current reserves were only about two months' operating costs, and also that more money should be directed toward improving hardware redundancy so as to reduce the noticeable effects from breakdowns. Others wondered how the Foundation would handle the balance between having paid employees and relying on volunteer efforts.

Complaints still continued to come in about Wikipedia's performance in loading pages and saving edits. SlimVirgin remarked that "the site is for many practical intents and purposes unusable a lot of the time." According to Jamesday, while the awaited servers will help somewhat, the Foundation will still need much more in the way of donations to keep up with anticipated growth and demand.

For those interested in more about these technical aspects, along with a summary of the underlying performance issues, take a look at the discussion started by Kate Turner on LiveJournal.

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