My first experience with Lemmy was thinking that the UI was beautiful, and lemmy.ml (the first instance I looked at) was asking people not to join because they already had 1500 users and were struggling to scale.

1500 users just doesn’t seem like much, it seems like the type of load you could handle with a Raspberry Pi in a dusty corner.

Are the Lemmy servers struggling to scale because of the federation process / protocols?

Maybe I underestimate how much compute goes into hosting user generated content? Users generate very little text, but uploading pictures takes more space. Users are generating millions of bytes of content and it’s overloading computers that can handle billions of bytes with ease, what happened? Am I missing something here?

Or maybe the code is just inefficient?

Which brings me to the title’s question: Does Lemmy benefit from using Rust? None of the problems I can imagine are related to code execution speed.

If the federation process and protocols are inefficient, then everything is being built on sand. Popular protocols are hard to change. How often does the HTTP protocol change? Never. The language used for the code doesn’t matter in this case.

If the code is just inefficient, well, inefficient Rust is probably slower than efficient Python or JavaScript. Could the complexity of Rust have pushed the devs towards a simpler but less efficient solution that ends up being slower than garbage collected languages? I’m sure this has happened before, but I don’t know anything about the Lemmy code.

Or, again, maybe I’m just underestimating the amount of compute required to support 1500 users sharing a little bit of text and a few images?

  • @zygo_histo_morpheus
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    449 months ago

    One benefit of using rust for webservers in general is that it’s possible to have a consistently lower latency compared to GCd langues: discord mentions this in their article about migrating to rust from go: https://discord.com/blog/why-discord-is-switching-from-go-to-rust

    Another difference between rust and e.g. python is that rust expects you to invest more time to get code that’s runnable in the first place, but likely more well optimized and correct.

    In my experience from writing rust, the language pushes you to write more efficient code compared to python because it makes things like copying visible and also because it’s easier to reason about memory usage compared to garbage collection which means that you’re more likely to have a useful model of the performance cost of various things while you’re programming.

    It’s possible that a hypothetical lemmy written in python would have allowed the devs to do some big picture optimizations that they haven’t had the time to do yet in the rust version, so for the time being it might be slower than a python alternative.

    Rust is likely to catch up though: eventually the rust version will probably also have this optimization while the python version has to resort to make smaller optimizations that the rust version already had in the first version of the code or that you get for free from the language.

    • Balder
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      9 months ago

      I mean, comparing it to Python is kinda unfair as Rust is closer to C and Python is one of the slowest languages out there. There is a whole spectrum of languages between Rust and Python. The final reason was probably that the devs were comfortable enough with Rust.

    • @Welmo
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      89 months ago

      I would like to point out that this article from Discord could be considered outdated these days. This comparison is using a old version of Go, that in recent years got a optimization on the GC and now would have much lower spikes than those showed in the article

      Still, Rust surely will give you a higher performance and lower latency than Python

    • @valence_engineer
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      29 months ago

      One benefit of using rust for webservers in general is that it’s possible to have a consistently lower latency compared to GCd langues: discord mentions this in their article about migrating to rust from go: https://discord.com/blog/why-discord-is-switching-from-go-to-rust

      What about the user problem that Lemmy is solving requires such low latency? Discord is a real time chat service. Lemmy is not. Not saying the overall performance improvements (ie: cost to run an instance) aren’t in Rust’s favor but pointing to latency seems odd to me.