Should We Switch To LiteSpeed?

At Hawk Host we’re always looking at using technology to have an advantages over our competitors.  Over the past few years LiteSpeed has been gaining in popularity and has even been catching on with web hosts.  It is fully compatible with cPanel which is a huge plus making it not to far out of the default configuration.  It is significantly faster than apache in serving static content.  It is also 50% faster than mod_php and numerous times faster than suPHP (we run this).

Our reasoning for running suPHP was security and the fact PHP would be running as the user which resolves a whole lot of problems such as ownership of uploaded files via php and requiring folders to have the permissions of 777.  With LiteSpeed in the suexec configuration still runs the php processes as the user but is also significantly faster than suPHP.  suPHP has been great to us but the CPU usage is so high that paying for LiteSpeed would actually save us money as we’d be able to have more customers per machine and also have less to worry about in terms of servers being overloaded.  We also have problems from time to time with graceful restarts in Apache causing things to go down for split seconds or slow down.  With LiteSpeed this would not be the case it’s graceful restarts are significantly better than Apache’s.

Our own web site as of this post is running LiteSpeed with the exact configuration we’d be using on our cPanel servers and I can tell you it sure does fly!  Our site was running with Apache 2.2 and FastCGI or previously suPHP and we were seeing between 600 and 900mb of used ram.  With LiteSpeed we’re seeing just 300MB on the server and our cpu usage is also down.

So I’ve talked about some of the advantages for us but what about the disadvantages or migration issues?

Disadvantages

  • It does not use the mod_rewrite system in Apache.  It uses it’s own faster system, but there may be a rare mod_rewrite rule set that may not work.  I have been testing various rules and cannot find any but there have been people who have reported issues.  The good news though if we do find one it can be investigated and corrected
  • SSI is not natively supported by LiteSpeed in the current stable version.  We can however proxy back to Apache to solve this issue.  LiteSpeed 4.0 (in beta already) supports SSI so we may very well not have to worry about it anyways

Migration Issues

  • The overide for php settings switches back to the standard .htaccess ways.  This would be fine if we’ve been running mod_php but for over six months now we’ve been using suPHP.  With suPHP you override settings with a php.ini file.  I don’t think this will be a huge issue there are not many reasons to be changing the php configuration.  This will not cause any errors but if you wanted say register_globals on when we make a switch over register_globals would now be off until you make the change in your .htaccess file.

Not a whole lot of serious issues just a matter of everyone being on their toes when their server is migrated over.  You can read more about LiteSpeed by visiting the LiteSpeed over view page.

So we’re wondering what does everyone think of the possible switch over?  Is it something you’d like to see?  Or would you jump ship before the move?  Feel free to comment on it in our forum or just leave a comment on our blog.

Now for the migration itself, we’d do it in phases with some machines not receiving the switch at all.  The plan would be to deploy it on our 64bit systems first (Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter).  Then our second wave would be just Skyline.  The major trend between both phases is these are our HarperTown systems.  The machines Mars, Mercury and Venus are slated for upgrades in the new year.  With the switch to LiteSpeed we estimate that we will not need all three of them moving forward.  We figured this with upgrading them to Xeon 5430’s and using suPHP that one of them would be unnecessary.  With LiteSpeed we know this for a fact we’ll have way more capacity than we need once we make the switch.

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8 Responses to Should We Switch To LiteSpeed?

  1. chris says:

    i think this would be a good move but have you looked at http://www.lighttpd.net/

  2. Tony says:

    I’ve heard of it but have not used it. Also it would not integrate like litespeed will. Litespeed can read apache httpd.conf files which means cPanel doesn’t even need to be aware of us running something other than apache. Plus I believe LiteSpeed is faster than lighttpd

  3. Bryan P. says:

    I have been developing several sites and plan to work on more. using the CakePHP framework and it uses the mod_rewrite system to run urls. So, a change which affects it could be bad for my sites. And require re-coding or modifications.

  4. Tony says:

    Our site is served via LiteSpeed as of this moment and we’re running Zend Framework and WordPress. Both make heavy use of mod_rewrite which just works fine.

    Litespeed is suppose to be almost 100% compatible with the mod_rewrite system of apache and also faster than apache’s. We have yet to run into a script or rule set that does not work with litespeed.

  5. chris says:

    I think you should go and move over to this software as if will work like normal and it faster.
    if you do go to do this is there any plan date?

  6. Tony says:

    We’re hoping to do the first machine on the 29th then a few days another until we have all our higher end machines running it. From there we’ll then decide how to approach our older machines which are ready for an upgrade.

  7. Marcus says:

    Litespeed is a piece of garbage! A properly optimized configuration of Apache 2.2 with FastCGI would work much better.

    Why would you waste money on such a piece of junk, especially since they charge you to provide support and do not include it with their owned or leased licenses. A bunch of greedy people running that business, and hopefully people will start realizing it soon enough that not only are their benchmarks outdated but their piece of garbage software is worthless.

  8. Tony says:

    Apache 2.2 with FastCGI is a solid setup when you’re running a few sites or just one site. It’s easy to implement a suexec and give the proper number of children processes so that you don’t use to much memory but just enough. This in an environment with hundreds of accounts it be more difficult to find that right number and also maintain the suexec environment.

    As for the comment about support we’ve had no issue receiving support from them. We have not been charged a penny for asking questions. I imagine it’s more for people who call and want support through that means.

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