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Web Performance Tuning · 12 September 2005, 07:51 by Admin

I honestly did not expect much from this book. I thought that it would be tired old advice (keep images small, etc) and I really couldn’t imagine how the author (Patrick Killelea) could pad that out to a book.

I was wrong.

Oh, there is some of that, of course. In fact, there is a fairly long, fairly boring section that wastes time with such things as “buy a faster machine”, “buy a better graphics card”, “browse late at night or early in the morning” and more of the same. Of course, if he had left this mundane advice out, then the book really wouldn’t be complete. He doesn’t dwell on this sort of thing, and gets by it quickly enough.

It’s also true that there really isn’t much here that isn’t covered somewhere in other performance tuning books, and a lot of the advice is general and would apply to any sort of performance tuning. That’s not a bad thing: it means that this book is also useful as a general performance tuning guide.

Still, because this concentrates on web performance, the specific concentration is valuable. There is a very good section that explains tcp kernel parameters (it tells you that “ndd” is the tool that modifies these; on SCO it’s “inconfig”), there is a good section on cgi, a lot of Java specific tips and so on.

I liked the chart that attempts to compare bandwidth by reducing everything to common units. Did you ever think of token ring and an IDE drive as being about the same speed? Or that a T-3 line is about 3 times faster than those two?

Some reviewers on Amazon didn’t like this book because it is Unix centric. Readers here won’t have that problem. I particularly liked the author’s suggestion that the best way to improve the performance of a Windows machine is to install Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris x86, BSDI or SCO Unix! As to NT, its faults and weaknesses are examined honestly, which probably turned off the Microsoft crowd. In fairness, NT is covered, but (as most of us know), it isn’t the platform of choice, and this book just plain says so.

On the Unix side, the concentration is on Solaris and Apache, but other Unices, even SCO, get mentioned, and Netscape servers gets an appendix (though it is just a reprint of Netscape’s own publication).

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