Opinion on different web server setups?

This is not directly a Rails question but you lot seem the best to

I have a strong feeling we will be developing future apps in Rails
(Ruby fans are slowly starting to outnumber cynics in my office) so I
want a web server plan that will be appropriate for that. We have
just bought two new web servers I want to turn into a load-balanced,
redundant pair. As well as any Rails apps, we also need to host two
Java webapps (XWiki and a JasperReports server), and a host of small,
low-traffic PHP sites.

The servers are Opteron 148 (2.2GHz) with 1GB RAM (maybe an extra gig
would be of use here) and will run FreeBSD-6.1/amd64.

The setups I’ve either read a lot about - or have deduced are worth
looking into - are these:

  • Apache + mod_php + mod_fcgid (Rails) - basically what I have
    now, plus Rails
  • Apache + mod_fcgid(PHP) + (mod_proxy+Mongrel)
  • Lighttpd + mod_fastcgi(Rails & PHP) - the trendy way to do
    things :slight_smile:
  • Lighttpd + mod_fastcgi(PHP) + Mongrel

In all cases, the Java load could be quite high in CPU terms
(rendering business reports), but not in page hits or number of apps
so I’ve assumed I will go with Jetty and factored it out of the
setup. I don’t think it makes any difference to the choice of Apache
or Lighttpd because it should work happily behind either.

The load from PHP sites will be pretty minor so I’m more concerned
about reducing its impact in terms of memory usage and administrative
donkey work. ( Although what administrative work isn’t donkey work :slight_smile: )

When we start using Rails seriously we will probably get under 20,000
page views daily, and even if we convert all our apps I doubt very
much we will see more than 100,000 pages views daily in the first 12
months. Because I don’t need to handle 10,000 concurrent
connections, I’m inclined to go with an Apache + mod_fcgid(PHP) +
(mod_proxy+Mongrel / FastCGI) setup. I know Apache reasonably well,
I know it can do ANYTHING and I know it NEVER lets me down. Also, by
using dumping mod_php I can switch to MPM worker and gain yet more
memory/scalability boosts thanks to multi-threading. Lighty fans
feel free to jump in here :slight_smile:

That leaves a choice between Mongrel and mod_fcgid for Rails. On
this point I’m pretty clueless. The main difference I can see is
that Mongrel is more easily scalable if we decide to add more
application servers.

Anyway sorry for waffling but I can’t see a decent comparison on the
net except for this: http://blog.innerewut.de/articles/2006/04/21/
scaling-rails-with-apache-2-2-mod_proxy_balancer-and-mongrel , so I
thought I’d run it past the Rails list. What do you all think?


I’m a big fan of Lighty. Its easy to configure, runs Rails super easy,
and really lightweight. It also has a proxy balancer system you can make
use of if that’s an issue. I know that leaving Apache can be hard for
some people, but my experience with Lighty has been superb. It’ll
support your Rails and PHP really easily, and can proxy the rest through
to wherever else it needs to go.