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?

  • @glorbo
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    516 months ago

    Yup was just typing a comment to basically this effect. Federation adds a ton of overhead – you can still do things fairly efficiently, but every interaction having to fan out to (and fan in from!) many servers instead of like a single RDBMS is gonna cost you.

    In all likelihood the code is not as efficient as it could be, but usually you get time to work those out gradually. A giant influx of users quickly turns “TODO: fix in the next six months” into “Oh god the servers are melting fuck fuck.”

    That said, assuming the devs can get over this hump, I suspect using a compiled language will pay off long-term. Sure things will still be primarily IO-bound, but making things less CPU-bound is usually a good thing.

    For some illustrative examples: Mastodon is in Ruby and hits dumb scaling limitations far more often than other fedi microblogs. Pleroma/Akkoma are Elixir (and BEAM is super well optimized for fast message passing/scaling/IO), Calckey (primarily Typescript) is moving some code to Rust, GoToSocial (Golang) is able to run in a fraction of the resources of Mastodon. The admins of one of the bigger tech instances recently announced they’re basically giving up on administrating Mastodon and are instead going to write a new server from scratch in a compiled language because it’s easier for them than scaling a Rails monolith.

    TL;DR everything is IO-bound til it’s not.