freistilbox Blog

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Palasthotel rocks the Rolling Stone Magazine relaunch

As Palasthotel CEO Benjamin Birkenhake announced on their company blog, the web agency based in Bielefeld and Berlin recently finished the relaunch of the German Rolling Stone Magazine.

Rolling Stone Magazine on freistilbox

The result of their work is, and I’m really not exaggerating, awesome. Not only did Palasthotel give the website a fresh design, they also did great development work behind the scenes:

  • 130.000 articles needed to be migrated from Escenic to WordPress. Inspired by Drupal’s Migrate module, Palasthotel developed a WordPress migration framework which they’re going to make Open Source.
  • The site uses 79 plugins, 69 of which were developed in-house.
  • Homepage and landing pages were built with PalastHotel’s plugin Grid.
  • Not only is the website responsive but it also uses responsive images technology that loads images only on demand and in the right resolution.
  • For maximum search speed, Palasthotel developed their own interface plugin for Apache Solr (soon to be published, too).
  • In order to simplify collaboration between three editorial teams, Palasthotel built a solution for sharing image galleries between separate WordPress setups.
  • The site uses 8 custom post types for artists, concerts, festivals etc. For connecting these post types, Palasthotel developed a Post Relationships plugin (which they’re going to publish as well).
  • Their new Postqueue plugin allows creating hand-picked content lists, just like the Nodequeue module in Drupal.
  • And as if this list wasn’t impressive enough already, Palasthotel built and integrated Octavius into the site, their own real-time click tracking service.

Shortly after the relaunch, Ben teamed up with our Chief Uptime Officer Markus for a session at WordCamp Cologne where they presented how our teams cooperate to run High Load Websites reliably, with the Rolling Stone Magazine being only one example.

Congratulations to our friends at Palasthotel for a job well done!

freistilbox now supports syslog logging

In Drupal 7, database logging via the “dblog” module is enabled by default. On high-traffic websites, this can become a problem. When Drupal generates lots of log entries, they can cause significant write load on the database and fill it up quickly. We’ve seen many database backups take longer than an hour because the “watchdog” table was multiple Gigabytes big, and more than one website database bog down under log write load.

The best solution is of course to to fix all PHP notices and warnings to reduce logging overhead. But you’ll still want to have a way of preserving important events in order to analyse them if the need arises. With the “syslog” module, there’s a better alternative to “dblog” and we’ve recently added syslog support to freistilbox. All log entries will simply be written to a log file in your website’s “logs” directory.

If you use our pre-built configuration snippets (and you should), all you need to do is to enable the “syslog” module. Our configuration snippet already comes with all the right module settings. And don’t forget to disable the “dblog” module!

freistilbox is secure from Logjam SSL attack

A few days ago, a new SSL vulnerability called [Logjam](https://weakdh.org/) was published. The attack exploits weak Diffie-Hellman (DH) parameters in incorrectly configured SSL/TLS servers.

We decrypt incoming SSL traffic right on our Edge Routers in order to enable content caching for both plain-text and encrypted web requests. Since we follow best practices, we don’t use any of the vulnerable cryptography. No changes in our Edge Routers were necessary to mitigate LogJam.

In order to deliver the best SSL processing performance possible, our Edge Routers prefer key exchanges based on “Elliptic Curve” cryptography, thus avoiding problems with DH altogether.

We are proud that the SSL configuration of our Edge Routers is rated A+ by SSL Labs, and happy to give you peace of mind about the security of your website traffic.

Let's meet at Drupal Open Days!

Bring together Drupal developers, themers, end users and those interested in learning more about Drupal — that’s the mission of the Drupal Open Days, the biggest DrupalCamp in Ireland. It’s happening again, and we’d like you to be there, too!

On May 22 and 23, we’ll have two days of talks, sessions and collaborative discussions about Drupal. Like last year, the main event will be at the Guinness Enterprise Centre and we’ve reserved space at nearby pubs to continue our conversations in the evenings after the sessions.

The Open Days team is doing amazing work behind the scenes preparing everything. Please help us spread the word so that lots of people interested in Drupal will make this event a great success!

We’ve gathered a bunch of brilliant speakers, first of all Emma Jane Westby with “Managing Projects the Drupal Way”. Peter Sherrard, FAI Communications Director, and Daniel Walsh will present “The Football Association of Ireland’s Drupal & UEFA API Experience”. It’ll be two days packed with information about how to use Drupal successfully!

As a company based in Ireland and, more importantly, a part of the Irish Drupal community, freistil IT is happy to support Drupal Open Days as a Gold Sponsor. I’ll be around on both days (and nights), so don’t hesitate to chat me up if you’re interested in having your Drupal website(s) run by experts.

It’s important that we demonstrate that Drupal has critical mass in Ireland. So again, please tell your friends, colleagues and customers to join you at Drupal Open Days.

Sign up now and be a part of the greatest Drupal meetup in Ireland!

freistilbox Solo: What's in it for you?

Our current hosting product freistilbox is highly scalable, and compared to other enterprise hosting platforms, its pricing is unrivaled. But more often than not, customers tell us that not everyone actually needs a full Drupal or WordPress cluster which can scale to hundreds of websites. That’s why, after five years, we decided to launch freistilbox Solo, our new plan for web developers who need powerful managed hosting for a single website.

Today, we’re going to tell you the details of what we’re up to.

Developer experience

freistilbox Solo is designed from the ground up to support and enhance the workflow of Drupal and WordPress shops.

Development speed is one of the most important aspects in web projects, so it’s vital that your hosting platform offers an efficient way to deploy changes. That’s why freistilbox Solo will use the same instant deployment approach as its bigger sibling: the moment you push a change to your Git repository, it’ll be published on freistilbox Solo.

In order to support the usual development phases of development, staging and production, each freistilbox Solo account comes with three separate website instances. You can base all three on the same Git repository because our deployment process will automatically enable the correct configuration for each staging environment.

Alternatively, you can assign a specific branch of your application repository to each instance. For example, you could simultaneously work on and deploy from a “development”, “testing” and “production” (aka “master”) branch.

Visitor experience

All your website visitors, human beings and search engines alike, put a high value on performance. Being able to generate and deliver content quickly has a direct impact on both your sales and search engine rankings.

We will offer freistilbox Solo in three tiers that differ in capacity:

  • freistilbox Solo S with 8 Processing Units and 10 GB of storage space,
  • freistilbox Solo M with 12 Processing Units and 20 GB, and
  • freistilbox Solo L with 16 Processing Units and 40 GB.

In case you’re not familiar with the term “Processing Units”, that is our metric for how many concurrent Drupal or WordPress requests freistilbox can handle, so another fitting term would be “application workers”.

In freistilbox Solo, we use the same technology that serves our current freistilbox customers, only on less complex IT infrastructure. This includes a high-performance LAMP stack plus

  • Memcache for maximum application performance,
  • Varnish for delivering static content at 300 requests per second,
  • an SSL terminator that enables caching of encrypted web sessions, and
  • Apache Solr for high-speed content search.

As with freistilbox Enterprise, all these system components are optimised for running Drupal and WordPress. And since they connect without any network latency, freistilbox Solo will deliver your website content with amazing speed.

Service experience

While freistilbox Solo does not require the same infrastructure complexity as freistilbox Enterprise does, there is still a lot to do in order to let our customers work efficiently and sleep peacefully. freistilbox Solo is fully managed and our operations team will take care of all the work required to run your websites at full performance. For example, we’ll make sure that the hosting software is updated regularly, that your data is backed up and that performance bottlenecks get eliminated. If there’s some new technology that can benefit our customers significantly, we’ll try and integrate it into our hosting platform. And if (well, rather “when”…) something breaks, our ops team will get on it immediately, day or night.

We are convinced that web projects are the most successful when developers and operations folks work towards the same goal. That’s why freistilbox Solo customers will enjoy the same competent technical support as our freistilbox Enterprise customers. We won’t leave you alone when you need help running your website.

Countdown!

We’re a bit behind schedule but the launch of freistilbox Solo is getting nearer and we’re already very excited! Soon, we’ll reveal the pricing and the exact date when we’re going to make freistilbox Solo available.

We hope to see your website fly freistilbox Solo soon!

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