December 25, 2004
Anatomy of a slashdotting

Last week’s Gingerbread CPU post was noticed by popgadget, then engadget then Boing Boing. It’s funny how these things get passed around. I even made the Daypop Top 40:


Then it got translated by a number of non-English website in Japan, Iceland, Hungary and Sweden. The number of visits increased to more than 5 times my usual daily rate. I was having a lot of fun looking at my stats, though a bit disappointed that I wasn’t being recognized for something I’d done myself. Such is the trouble with reporting on things.

By Day 3, [H]ard|OCP and Blue’s News picked it up and traffic went up further. I was seeing more than 10 times my usual traffic.

On December 23rd, five days into this increase in popularity, Slashdot noticed what was going on. Tod & I had just returned from stocking up on cookie-making ingredients. While the butter was softening, I checked my mail to discover a comment from the blog: “Haha! You’re getting Slashdotted!”


Hahahah! Wow!

Oh, hell! This was going to be trouble. We host my website on a server here at home.

Our server was doing OK. Tod’s built a robust machine—it was found in the trash and sits at the end of a home-use 8 megabit DSL line. At the time of the slashdotting, the server had been up for 54 days continuously and it had no trouble keeping up on the CPU and memory side of things.

But our bandwidth was another story entirely. Pegged for a little while, then so flooded it was dropping packets or something because traffic was reduced to about a third of our usual 1.5 megabit upstream pipe. Uh-oh.

Tod used our little remaining bandwidth to chat with his friends on IRC’s perl channel.

“Holy shit, my home webserver is slashdotted!” he wrote.
“Devin, what’s the URL?” came the instant, insistent, and not entirely useful replies.

But on a more helpful note, Mugwump saved the day by mirroring the gingerbread image for us. Thank you very much, you kind stranger from New Zealand and your council-sponsored fibre optic LAN.

About 20 minutes later, Mugwump asked if we could split the mirroring between his server and another one. It was a lot more than he expected—about 10 requests/second. So I tinkered the post and the header on my website and it make a huge difference for everyone.

Things calmed down quickly after we moved the images offsite and it wasn’t long before I was able to surf for cookie recipes even while we were being slashdotted.

At about 6:30 pm, Jim called. He’d just seen it; did we know we were slashdotted? It’s nice to have friend who are paying attention. He had a brilliant suggestion—I video’d a bit of the action.

playicon.gifThe Slashdot Effect 1’06” 1.8 MB MP4

“You’re famous now, what will it be like when America wakes up in 6 hours?” cautioned MoSH, one of Tod’s colleagues in Switzerland. I bit my nails a bit.

Sure enough, after dinner as we started baking the cookies we’d mixed up, traffic started to increase. America was waking up. It was 11:30 pm in Tokyo. I expected a long night of watching and waiting.

“I have never seen an access logfile scroll so fast,” Tod declared. “…in all my years staring at log files, which is a lot.”

We were back up to 10 requests/second. The bandwidth was getting strained again. The traffic was only getting heavier. The east coast of the US was awake. And Chicago. But we seemed to ride the crest of it and by the time we woke up the next morning, things had settled down and the peak was over.

We’re so lucky we don’t pay by bandwidth used.

Posted by kuri at December 25, 2004 05:24 PM


I LOVE the movie!

I LOVE you kids!

And I have just started on my first Chrissy drink.

NOW Kristen don’t ever post something interesting enough to wipe out all of our sites again…. (**)

Posted by: MJ on December 25, 2004 06:35 PM

Yes Kristen.. stop being so damn entertaining.. (actually don’t do that!!!) That is a great movie.. you should submit to slashdot..

Posted by: T on December 25, 2004 06:50 PM
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