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I am running MediaWiki on dreamhost for two websites. The first gets about 50,000 page views a day, the second gets 12,000. Dreamhost is using mediawiki version 1.16.4 and shows no interest in upgrading to version 1.17, let alone 1.18. I recently moved from Apache to nginx as a web server, but it doesn't seem to have helped very much. I'm running PHP 5.2.x FastCGI (default) which is the only thing dreamhost supports with nginx.

Questions:

  1. How do I make MediaWiki run with less ram and faster? Will upgrading to 1.17 or 1.18 make a difference?
  2. How do I tell if caching is enabled? I have the PHP configuration managed by Dreamhost and PHP cache enabled. (It claims to use XCache.)
  3. Is there anything else I should do?
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Well where's the bottleneck? CPU, DiskIO, Database internals? You need to give us some info to go on. –  EEAA Feb 21 '12 at 4:55
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Adding a caching layer, such as Varnish, in front of nginx should result in a significant decrease in the number of requests reaching the backend, especially if a small subset of pages represent a large portion of the requests. Additionally, Varnish works well with MediaWiki. A typical setup would have Varnish store its cache in memory, but if memory is an issue, a disk backed cache will still be an improvement (that said, fewer requests reaching the backend, means you might have more memory to spare). –  cyberx86 Feb 21 '12 at 5:21
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Why would you want it to use less memory? –  David Schwartz Feb 21 '12 at 5:48
    
On most VPS systems you pay for the amount of RAM you use. 1000MB of RAM at dreamhost costs me $50/month. 500MB would cost me $25/month. If you use more than your allotted RAM, you get reboot. It has absolutely nothing to do with CPU utilization. It's allocated CPU memory. –  vy32 Feb 21 '12 at 11:38
    
@cyberx86, why did you do that as a comment and not an answer? –  vy32 Feb 21 '12 at 11:38

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