LiveJournal Architecture

A fascinating and detailed story of how LiveJournal evolved their system to scale. LiveJournal was an early player in the free blog service race and faced issues from quickly adding a large number of users. Blog posts come fast and furious which causes a lot of writes and writes are particularly hard to scale. Understanding how LiveJournal faced their scaling problems will help any aspiring website builder.


Information Sources

LiveJournal – Behind The Scenes Scaling Storytime
Google Video
Tokyo Video
2005 version



What’s Inside?

Scaling from 1, 2, and 4 hosts to cluster of servers.
Avoid single points of failure.
Using MySQL replication only takes you so far.
Becoming IO bound kills scaling.
Spread out writes and reads for more parallelism.
You can’t keep adding read slaves and scale.
Shard storage approach, using DRBD, for maximal throughput. Allocate shards based on roles.
Caching to improve performance with memcached. Two-level hashing to distributed RAM.
Perlbal for web load balancing.
MogileFS, a distributed file system, for parallelism.
TheSchwartz and Gearman for distributed job queuing to do more work in parallel.
Solving persistent connection problems.

Lessons Learned

Don’t be afraid to write your own software to solve your own problems. LiveJournal as provided incredible value to the community through their efforts.

Sites can evolve from small 1, 2 machine setups to larger systems as they learn about their users and what their system really needs to do.

Parallelization is key to scaling. Remove choke points by caching, load balancing, sharding, clustering file systems, and making use of more disk spindles.

Replication has a cost. You can’t just keep adding more and more read slaves and expect to scale.

Low level issues like which OS event notification mechanism to use, file system and disk interactions, threading and even models, and connection types, matter at scale.

Large sites eventually turn to a distributed queuing and scheduling mechanism to distribute large work loads across a grid.

No Responses to “LiveJournal Architecture”

  1. youtube Says:

    oo nice. livejournal is best.

  2. farhaj Says:

    If liive journal continues its reputation like this it will also lead like the major journals such as the time and others.

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  3. winkbingo Says:

    i cant believe ive never heard of livejournal before
    i use wordpress but i think i will try this out thanks

  4. Hidden object games Says:

    thanks, very informative post for me.

  5. Internet Marketing Company Says: appears to have less traffic than I wonder how the architecture compares between, and since they all provide the same service and have many users.

  6. erotik izle Says:

    thanks, very informative post for me.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Where do you get DRBD from? LiveJournal does NOT use DRBD.

  8. R6 Fairings Says:

    I really appreciate the information here presented and hope you can keep us well inform in future posts. Thanks.

  9. Archie Says:

    Man you present us a great source of information. The list of links you present us is really usefull! I give you 9/10 for this post! Great work!

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