The Linux Documentation Project Weekly News

Issue Number : 12
Publication Date : 2004-03-24

Table of Contents
1. New documents @ TLDP
2. Updated HOWTOs, FAQs and Guides
3. Discussions on TLDP lists
3.1. TLDP Mirrors
4. Interview with Fred Stutzman
5. HOWTO contribute to TLDP

1. New documents @ TLDP

Tabatha completed the review of Kai Schlachter's Glibc Installation HOWTO, which details the installation of a new glibc version on a Linux system. Kai decided to write this documentation after having struggled with the subject and finding no good documentation with an overview of the tasks to perform.

2. Updated HOWTOs, FAQs and Guides

3. Discussions on TLDP lists

3.1. TLDP Mirrors

In response to Tille's post indicating a map of The LDP mirrors, Saqib Ali suggested that we have an automatic redirector based on the IP address of the client machine. Various people disagreed with reasons and suggested alternative methods of handling traffic.

4. Interview with Fred Stutzman

Figure 1. Fred Stutzman, leader of iBiblio/TLDP support team.

(Thanks to Doc Searles from Linux Journal for taking this picture)

TLDP WN had the chance of asking Fred Stutzman a couple of questions. Who is Fred, you might wonder? Indeed, he is not on the volunteer list page. Nevertheless, Fred is very important to us: he manages, with his colleagues, the TLDP servers at iBiblio. He is going to tell us about the hardware and network resources you need if you want to start a TLDP-like project.

Q: Do we eat a lot of bandwidth? And the mirrors? What connection (uplink) do you have for all this?

A: Does TLDP use a lot of bandwidth? I wouldn't say TLDP is necessarily a bandwidth-heavy site. That is to say, most of the transactions from TLDP sites involve highly efficient, basic HTML documents. A rather unscientific interrogation of server logs shows that the iBiblio TLDP site does anywhere between 500,000 to 1 Million transactions daily.

A basic, unscientific look at page size will show that most of the TLDP pages are just a few kilobytes, the images a few more. All in all, this adds up - but with our uplink (which I'll get to) and the global system of mirrors, we're able to sustain the traffic load.

iBiblio's network connectivity is provided by a 1 gigabit direct uplink to the campus' border router. Connectivity to commodity networks and I2/Abilene is provided by an OC-48 uplink. iBiblio's traffic load averages about 260Mbits/Sec, with web traffic a substantial part of that load.

Q: How come iBiblio hosts TLDP?

A: TLDP needed a home, and we offered our services. iBiblio is very interested in helping projects like the Linux Documentation Project, they fit our core goals very well. We're happy to handle the hosting, and let the TLDP folk work on what they do best, helping the world get access to the documentation that helps people use and understand Linux. Its really a perfect relationship for us in many ways.

(note: The long history of cooperation between iBiblio and TLDP is documented in this article.)

Q: How much time do you or your colleagues spend on managing TLDP data?

A: We don't spend much time nowadays. In the beginning, we did a good amount of work getting the systems set up, and coordinating with the global network of volunteers. Now, we simply let the systems run, and assist the project leads and volunteers with their requests. Things run quite smoothly, thanks in no small part to the technical expertise of the TLDP staff.

Q: What hardware does TLDP run on?

A: TLDP runs on the iBiblio web cluster, which involves dual LVS directors, a cluster of web nodes, and fileservers. The equipment is IBM xSeries servers, 345's and 330's. The equipment was donated as part of the IBM Shared University Research Grant, for which we are very thankful.

Q: How is the data backed up?

A: The data is backed up nightly by UNC's (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) Enterprise Backup and Recovery Group. Using Tivoli Storage Manager, the data is incrementally backed up to tape. Additionally, the global system of mirrors provides another level of backup to the project. In a time of trouble (one especially notable episode of data corruption), we were able to repoint LDP to another site (with the administrator's permission, of course), and users were unaware of the switch as we restored the corrupted device. It was quite seamless.

Q: What is your strangest experience in relation to TLDP?

A: I don't really have many funny anecdotes. But come to mention it, as TLDP expands into many different languages, sometimes communication becomes a difficulty. I know there are some pretty bizarre discussion threads out there that involve me trying to communicate using translation software...which is probably not to be advised quite yet ;)

Thanks, Fred!

5. HOWTO contribute to TLDP

The Linux Documentation Project (TLDP) is working on developing free, high quality documentation for the GNU/Linux operating system. If you want to help TLDP, consider joining .

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The LDP Weekly News is compiled and edited by Machtelt Garrels and Y Giridhar Appaji Nag with help from several other people.