Viability of nginx instead of hardware load balancer?

David Murphy david at
Thu Sep 17 18:05:28 MSD 2009

If your load  balancer is not doing  anything but being a load balancer
really you only needs  high quality network  devices, a minimalistic kernel
( to prevent security holes) and ram based os or fast HD.  
I would agree  you need better hardware if you are doing more but as  a pure
LB , hardware requirements   and not a strict as you are implying.

Furthermore you need to get past this concept of "failures" because if you
configured things properly you would have a  hot spare device  to prevent
any such lag. I find that  buying a single  piece of hardware vs building
out a redundant infrastructure a) costs more money and b) actually have a
higher chance of failure due to a Single Point of Failure

Also you have the ability via networking to  run a true balanced share out
of the  load so  you could have 3 LB's  all getting one  1/3 of all requests
and hitting the same  backends.  Then if one drops off the switch just downs
the  port and  1/2 goes to each of the remaining  LB nodes. 

Your belief you must buy hardware is just a waste of capital investment ,
when you can build  it yourself for much cheaper with the same of  better
hardware than buying something  from a vendor.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-nginx at [mailto:owner-nginx at] On Behalf Of Gena
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 3:33 PM
To: David Murphy
Subject: Re: Viability of nginx instead of hardware load balancer?

On Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 17:03:58, David Murphy wrote:

DM> DSL was only an example of  one distro ( good  for testing to prove 
DM> a concept).

this is just wasting of time, no?

build and test on legacy 2.4.x kernel and after doing it - again build and
test on 2.6.x kernel before production use.

make production high traffic load-balancer on legacy 2.4.x kernel - is not
good idea.

DM> Also for no SPF, you would do the same thing I suggested with VM but 
DM> with physical 1U boxes, were your network could provide the fail 
DM> over, and you would simply have 2 very cheap nginx based load 
DM> balancer so quick fail over if one node had an issue.

if use "very cheap hardware" for "high traffic load-balancer" - very cheap
hardware may have low reliability and very low performance.

absence of failures and absence of lags/overloads IMHO has more priority
over "hardware low price".

especially if in future load balancers
feel very high load under DDoS attacks.


On Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 23:01:04, David Murphy wrote:

>>Yes, that's a good idea. Is DSL the best distro for such things?

DM> Well not necessarily but it does have the smallest foot print, thus 
DM> needing less on chip memory and lowering cost of  creating such an 
DM> appliance, heck technically speaking you could get a  WRT-54G, turn 
DM> off the wireless after installing  DD-WRT ( DSL variant), and 
DM> compile  nginx into it. Would be an interesting proof of concept for


WRT-54G has slow CPU, low RAM, and it is bad candidate for load balancer

using DSL( or DSL-N ) and WRT-54G as high traffic load-balancer software and
hardware is useless and harmful recommendations, IMHO.

but using for frontends modern hardware and OS allow use its at least also
for nginx caching in order to reduce backends load and quantity, and so

Best regards,

More information about the nginx mailing list