merits of Lisp vs Python

John Nagle nagle at animats.com
Thu Mar 8 07:13:15 CET 2007


Paul Rubin wrote:
> Brian Adkins <lojicdotcomNOSPAM at gmail.com> writes:
> 
>>With prices of dedicated servers and virtual private servers so cheap,
>>why would anyone get a hosting account without root access? 
> 
> Because it turns you into a sysadmin instead of letting specialists
> handle all the OS stuff so you can concentrate on your application.

    Exactly.  I want to outsource these headaches to someone who's
doing it for a thousand servers and has a standardized "just works"
configuration that's Python-friendly.  It's inefficient to work
through all these issues for a single server.  I have better things
to do with my time.

    When starting out with this project, I'd made the assumption that
Python was a stable, working, well-supported technology, like Perl
hosting.  It isn't.

    It's really amazing how stable Perl hosting is.  I have a site,
"downside.com", that's been running a Perl application since 2000,
with essentially no attention since 2002.  It's been migrated to new
servers twice by the hosting provider, without my having had to change
anything.  Or even do anything.  It's talking to a MySQL database,
going out and retrieving files from the SEC, parsing complex documents,
gettting a feed from NASDAQ, responding to queries, and doing
quite a bit of work.  When developing that, I had no serious problems with Perl.

    Python, on the other hand, is uphill all the way.  Constant trouble
with version issues, especially with C components called from Python.
MySQLdb, M2Crypto, SSL - they all have platform/version
incompatibility problems.  I just spent three days making M2Crypto
work on a new Linux server with a different Red Hat version.
Neither Python's packaging tools nor the platform's packaging
tools deal adequately with these issues.

    The language is fine.  It's those weakly-supported packages out
there in the cold that are the problem.  (I definitely agree with
Guido that SWIG is a bad idea.  I've been combing through the 24,000
lines of C generated by SWIG for M2Crypto, figuring out the compile
errors and what caused them.  This is neither fun nor desirable.)

    I get the feeling that Python isn't used much for general web hosting
any more.  Only about two messages per month on this newsgroup mention
a hosting-related issue.

    One wonders how many people try and give up.

				John Nagle



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