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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mark Fletcher On How Bloglines Was Built

Mark Fletcher, on his experience in starting Bloglines.

• Passion - because it will consume your life
• Cheap technologies - great time to start an Internet service.
• Hardware/software is getting cheaper
• Keep it simple
• Release early and often
• Moonlighting limits risks
• Free services - less pressure
• Hire a lawyer
• Web services APIs are a good thing
• Find good help (especially sys admin)
• Outsource to eLance.com (you can outsource all kinds of stuff. Have contractors bid for your work)
•Architectur 101: Front-end (web, mail servers); Backend (user dbs, other dbs, storage)
Software choices :
• DBJ (http://cr.yp.to) qmail djbdns daemontools
• ClearSilver (web templating package)
• Berkeley DBs
• Linux/Apache
• C/C++/bash/python
• Skiplist data structure
• Avoid NFS
• Avoid table-level locking in MySQL
Hardware choices :
• Two choices: dedicated servers vs. buying/hosting. Dedicated server route – costs are less
• Design for cheap hardware
• eBay - hardware cheap
Architecture choices:
• Copying files vs. client/server
• Calculate on the fly vs. cache
• Relational DBs vs. Flat Files (all blog articles are stored as flat files)
• RAID vs. Redundant
• Linux software RAID 1 - rock solid
Sysadmin choices
• DNS round robin for web
• Hot back-ups for off-line processing

Andrej points out,the size of the company was under ten at the Ask Jeeves acquisition. Marks presentation is available here.

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