Blog status

— January 29, 2007 at 05:59 PST

It's been about a month since I moved this blog from Typo to Mephisto. It took me a bit of tweaking, but it seems to be running pretty well now and I'm happy I made the change. I especially like the Akismet comment-spam filtering. But I think now most of the move-in work is done. I just today fixed some problems in my Scribbish variant so the weird repeated text in the syndication feeds is gone. I've also set up a FeedBurner feed, so those of you who can't use an Atom feed now have other choices like RSS.

You may also have noticed that this blog has been hosed a lot in the last month. It's very sad, but I run this baby on DreamHost. Now, DreamHost is great for a lot of things and offers a lot of value for what they charge, but they sort of suck for doing anything significant with Rails. It turns out that Mephisto's use of RMagick or ImageScience to create thumbnails for assets was making the FCGI processes go up over 100MB, which was raising a red flag and causing them to get axed. I disabled the thumbnailing in attachment_fu and now memory use hovers around 45-50MB, which keeps purring along just fine.

I've still got a few changes I'd like to make. I want to add AJAX comment previews, or at the least I should tweak the view to let people know that comments are styled with Markdown. I also want to add pagination so more than 15 articles are available in a section. On the content side, I need to start building some meta-articles so people can navigate the site, like a guide to Rails associations, guide to Ruby tricks, etc.

If you are having any problems with the feed or anything else about the blog, please leave a comment. I try to keep an eye on it, but I sometimes miss things that are broken since I'm not a reader myself.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Every week I get a few emails from people asking my advice on how to solve their problem with an ActiveRecord association. It's nice that you all are thinking of me, but I don't really have time to provide free consulting to anyone who emails me. It's a bit frustrating because I don't want to just ignore people, but I really don't have time to provide that kind of service. I do haunt the Rails email list and answer questions there when I have time, and so do many other knowledgeable folks, so if you're stuck I suggest taking that route. Maybe someday I'll try a mailbag feature for the blog, but not today.

7 commentsmeta

  1. bill heartwell2007-02-01 12:03:07

    Hello Josh,

    "FCGI processes go up over 100MB" I was wondering how you tested/discovered this? I also have an account there and use a lot of RMagick and would like to make sure it isn't raising hell. Are you just running "top" and watching it while clicking around? I really have no idea so any tips or links to some other literature would be great if you have a minute.

  2. Josh Susser2007-02-01 15:54:31

    bill: I got that number (>100MB) in an email exchange with DreamHost support. Doing a ps or top showed me my FCGI procs were running in the 45MB range, but the support guy said they were going over 100MB and getting killed. I was seeing zombie procs in ps that I had to kill manually with kill -9. And the way DH has Apache configured means that it can take around 5 minutes to restart the FCGIs after they are killed off.

    By the way, I'm still getting issues with FCGIs locking up on me, it's just less often than before. As long as DreamHost maintains its current configuration and FCGI management policies, it's going to continue to be a poor place to host Rails applications.

  3. Raphael2007-02-03 10:30:18

    Seems like some of your articles about associations are gone. I remember a has_many :through article part one and two but neither one is there any more...

  4. Gabe2007-02-04 18:56:44

    That's great information about Dreamhost. I'm a long time customer, and have used many many different hosts, and found Dreamhost over time to have the best technical chops as far as dealing with problems (major issues that most hosts will never have to face). You hear a lot of horror stories about Dreamhost, but anecdotal rants really don't help anyone. It's good to know what their FCGI policies are specifically before a problem arises.

    Frankly, as much as I respect Dreamhost's technical chops, hosting Rails is a full-time job. With all the new deployment options, dynamic FCGIs seem quaint. For shared hosting PlanetArgon seems to be the most on top of the latest deployment tech. I'm looking to get on RailsMachine though.

  5. Josh Susser2007-02-04 19:23:53

    Well, I just found a way to deal with the DreamHost FCGI management hassles that works better than the problematic frao_handler approach. Check out Todd Huss's new plugin:

    I installed Todd's dreamhost plugin on this blog a few days ago and it seems to be working better. I haven't seen a 500 since then. Keeping my fingers crossed, I'll give it a week to see.

    By the way, I seem to have borked up my feed redirections. Moving from Typo to Mephisto then adding FeedBurner really compliated things. Should be fixed now.

  6. Kyle Maxwell2007-02-05 23:58:54

    It took me about an hour to set up a mephisto blog on Slicehost ($20/mo VPS). Since they offer ubuntu hosting, you can use the deprec gem ( to automatically install and configure the entire Rails stack (Apache 2.2, Ruby, Rails, Mongrel, SVN, etc) for you.

    If I had to do it again from scratch, it'd take less than five minutes of my time, plus another 15ish minutes of compile time.

  7. Pozycjonowanie2007-02-12 12:48:12

    Seems like some of your articles about associations are gone. I remember a has_many :through article part one and two but neither one is there any more... I also remember it maybe its only temporary ... Thanks for article. Greetings

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