I’ve been running my Rails apps (this blog as well as Bloodsport Colosseum) via mod_proxy and mongrel. Run a mongrel server at a given port, tell Apache to redirect a given virtual host to said port. Takes a lot more knowledge than a noob like me has, so even though it’s better than dealing with fastcgi + Apache or lighttpd, it’s still annoying.
Once I got it up and running, however, I figured it was good enough – everything worked, so all was well. Until I had apps that weren’t hit very often. Bloodsport Colosseum is hit pretty regularly, and this blog seems to get pinged by random sources all the time, so both worked well. But my now-deceased fanmail app (granted it was really far too simple to warrant the RoR framework, but that’s a whole different story) was hit maybe every few days.
Mongrel did not like this for some reason. It seems that any app that isn’t getting regular hits just dies after a while. I read somewhere that it was mysql’s fault, closing the socket or something like that. Interestingly, my PHP apps that use mysql don’t have that problem, and on my last server (privately hosted by a friend and using fastcgi), my Rails apps didn’t have that problem.
Okay, fanmail app was kind of unnecessary anyway – I can just put my smart and not at all fat fan’s letters of praise on the main site, run via PHP, and that’ll be good enough.
Then I for once blogged a popular topic – the Network Solutions “scandal”. I was actually #3 on google for the search “network solutions domain name front running” for a little while. But the next day when I checked how things were going, I noticed that mongrel was “running”, but not responding, much like what I saw when an app wasn’t hit regularly. The process list would show a mongrel process using almost no memory (very atypical of a Rails app), and Apache would give an error that the proxying couldn’t happen. So the one time I’m really getting visitors (About 100x normal traffic levels for my shitty blog), within about an hour mongrel had decided it had enough.
I don’t believe mongrel can’t handle large traffic loads, I just think my lack of skills combined with mongrel’s funky behavior problems caused issues.
All in all, I’m tired of that – Mongrel keeps misbehaving, and I’m DONE. Time for something new. I’m trying out Phusion Passenger tonight and we’ll see how it goes.