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IMPORTANT! Major upgrades are on the horizon: please read!

Friday, May 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

May
2
2008

A major new version of vBulletin (the software that is used for the JSF forums) has just been released. There are some really cool new features in this new version that I think you all are going to enjoy a great deal. Just to name a few of the new features:

  • User picture galleries with user comment facility
  • User-created social groups with invite only and moderated membership options
  • Extended member profile pages
  • Customizable member profile pages with admin-controlled styling abilities
  • Inline editing of custom user profile fields
  • Lightbox viewer for attached images
  • Reciprocal friendships between users
  • Public visitor messaging on profile pages with ‘conversation’ feature
  • Viewable and comparable history maintained for post edits
  • User change history
  • Thread tagging
  • Search cloud / tag cloud
  • Social bookmarking integration
  • Much, much more!

Don’t worry if you don’t know what some of that stuff means; there will be resources posted to learn about the new features, and the forum will continue to work pretty much as it always has for those of you who curl up into a tight ball and break a cold sweat at the thought of change.

While I could upgrade the forum software as it sits right now, there are some recommended support software packages that also need to be upgraded for optimal performance. All these upgrades are non-trivial, and I’m not comfortable performing them on the live servers: the chances of something breaking are pretty good.

So, all of this leads to taking the next logical step, and that is replacing the aging hardware that runs JSF and the JSF forums, and also the underlying Operating Systems. I’ve been giving it some thought, and I’ve decided to scrap everything and give JSF a complete hardware, O/S and software overhaul. This is going to be a huge project, it’s going to be expensive and it’s going to take some time.

The first step is I need to purchase two brand new servers. I am still working out the hardware details, but these new servers will be many, many times more powerful than the current servers, they will each have several times the amount (and speed) of RAM installed in the current servers, the new servers will all utilize hot-swappable drives in a RAID 1 configuration for true redundancy and enhanced reliability, storage space will be increased considerably and there will also be redundant power supplies and redundant network cards.

For the O/S I’ll be using Linux, of course: either Ubuntu LTS Server Edition or Gentoo. I’m leaning towards Ubuntu.

Most of this work will be happening in the background, and will not cause any downtime. First I’ll need to get the servers ordered. Once the servers arrive I’ll work on them in my spare time here at the house. After I install the O/S & and all the support software, I’ll need to get everything configured and tested. After that I’ll shut down the live forums, import the existing data into the new system, run some tests and then launch the new JSF! The day of the launch should be the only day with any real downtime.

This new system will provide a much faster and more enjoyable experience for everyone, and it will greatly increases our ability to handle large amounts of traffic.

I want to thank everyone who has supported this site financially; these major upgrades would simply not be possible without you!

If you would like to contribute, now would be a great time to do so. Details on upgrading your membership can be found here.

I’m going to post this update in the technical forum. The thread can be found here. I welcome suggestions and comments from my fellow techies with regards to hardware and software.

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