My first experience with Lemmy was thinking that the UI was beautiful, and (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?

  • TortoiseWrath
    1 year ago

    Not relevant to lemmy (yet), but this does break down a bit at very large scales. (Source: am infra eng at YouTube.)

    System architecture (particularly storage) is certainly by far the largest contributor to web performance, but the language of choice and its execution environment can matter. It’s not so important when it’s the difference between using 51% and 50% of some server’s CPU or serving requests in 101 vs 100 ms, but when it’s the difference between running 5100 and 5000 servers or blocking threads for 101 vs 100 CPU-hours per second, you’ll feel it.

    Languages also build up cultures and ecosystems surrounding them that can lend themselves to certain architectural decisions that might not be beneficial. I think one of the major reasons they migrated the YouTube backend from Python to C++ isn’t really anything to do with the core languages themselves, but the fact that existing C++ libraries tend to be way more optimized than their Python equivalents, so we wouldn’t have to invest as much in developing more efficient libraries.

    • @terebat
      101 year ago

      It is fairly relevant to lemmy as is. Quite a few instances have ram constraints and are hitting swap. Consider how much worse it would be in python.

      Currently most of the issues are architectural and can be fixed with tweaking how certain things are done (i.e., image hosting on an object store instead of locally).