RE: Motley Fool: More Problems at eBay

Gavin Thomas Nicol (
Fri, 2 Jul 1999 11:45:06 -0400

> > On big iron sparc machines, CGI is sometimes the fastest
> > and most reliable way of doing things.
> Ebay doesn't do web service on their big iron Sparc machine... as
> noted in the text you trimmed, they have a separate pool of smaller
> servers for that. (They're NT boxes running IIS, and as Kragen sussed
> out, apparently using ISAPI for their custom code, which is the IIS
> native plug-in API --- vaguely like mod_perl, except using languages
> other than perl).

ISAPI is OK for some things, but I've found it about the worste
native interface of them all.

> Still, I'm curious; yours is the first suggestion I've seen in a while
> that straight CGI is a particularly fast way of running a heavily
> database-backed site like ebay, on any hardware. Could you elaborate?

Not so much a database-backed site... on systems where the process size
is small and where the process is CPU and I/O intensive, CGI is sometimes
the best. It helps to avoid contention in the code, and is, of course,
dead reliable. With lots of RAM, the process stays in memory, so the
fork and exec cost is negligible.