RE: Motley Fool: More Problems at eBay

Robert S. Thau (
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 11:46:46 -0400 (EDT)

Gavin Thomas Nicol writes:
> > Oh, dear.... are they actually using CGI? They must mean mod_perl or
> > something, right? Please tell me I'm right...
> 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).

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?
I'm particularly interested in how you handle connections to the
database in this kind of environment; persistent database connections
are usually reckoned to be a real advantage of mod_perl-type solutions
(or, say, FastCGI, Java servlet engines, etc.) over straight,
fork-and-exec CGI scripts.

(The usual argument along these lines is spelled out in

in Phil Greenspun's usual pungent style... it's toward the middle of
the chapter, under the heading "Step 3: Choose a program invocation