Practical Technology

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Ubuntu scores major Wikipedia win


While I find Wikipedia about as trustworthy as any random stranger at a pub, I can’t deny that Wikipedia is incredibly popular. According to the Web traffic monitoring site Alexa on an average day 8.5% of the world’s Internet users will visit the site. That’s a lot of hits. Now, to manage this incredible load of approximately two-million unique visitors a day, Wikipedia is moving from a hodge-podge of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora ( servers to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Long Term Service).

This switch-over from Red Hat to Ubuntu has been taking place over a period of several years. According to Brion Vibber, CTO of the San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia made the move because the “mix of things, some Red Hat 9, some Fedora, several different versions,” made it harder and harder for Wikipedia’s tiny five-person IT staff to maintain Wikipedia’s approximately 400 servers.

So Vibber and the rest of the IT staff shifted to Ubuntu so that it could make “our own administration and maintenance simpler.” In short, they “decided that we want to standardize on something.”

That’s always a smart choice. People like yours truly can play operating systems like hop-scotch, jumping from one to the other, but that’s no way for even the smallest of companies to handle operating systems and platforms. I’m surprised that an operation like Wikipedia, with its millions of daily readers, never mind the load of the eternal editing and re-editing of stories managed for so long.

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