Slashdot Goes Dark, Briefly

Slashdot Goes Dark, Briefly

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Linux and open-source fans throughout the world got a shock on Friday night (U.S. Eastern Time) to find that Slashdot, the IT news, gossip and chat site, was apparently offline. Attempts to reach the wildly popular site were greeted with a HTTP 503—Service Unavailable Error—message.

The Slashdot outage was the result of an intentional server shuffle. OSDN (Open Source Development Network Inc.) is updating Slash, the open source program behind the Slashdot system and moving Slashdot to bigger, better servers.

“It’s a code refresh and server move. We try to do them going into the weekend in case there are any problems because we have less traffic on weekends than weekdays,” Robin “Roblimo” Miller, OSDN editor in chief, told on Friday.

Miller added, “Rob [Malda, Slashdot’s founder] should have posted a notice” that the site would be down for a while.

Slashdot is well-known far outside its Linux and open-source communities thanks to the enormous influence it wields with technology readers. Sites featured on Slashdot have at times been overwhelmed by the traffic that comes their way as dozens to hundreds of times their normal viewers come their way. This sudden surge in Web site visitors is now known as the “Slashdot effect.” It has even been studied and analyzed in at least one academic paper.

Other OSDN sites, and IT Manager’s Journal, are also being updated with a new look and new features.

However, “Slashdot will have no visible change,” Miller said. “We updated and IT Manager’s Journal earlier today. On those sites we not only changed the way they work but the way they look, and added new features to both of them to accommodate our growing and increasingly diverse readership.”

Slashdot returned to service within a few hours.

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Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in ExtremeTech.