Thursday, January 21, 2016

MediaWiki's usage of DB slaves


The system administrator can specify, in MediaWiki's configuration, that there is one master database server and any number of slave database servers; a weight can be assigned to each server. The load balancer will send all writes to the master, and will balance reads according to the weights. It also keeps track of the replication lag of each slave. If a slave's replication lag exceeds 30 seconds, it will not receive any read queries to allow it to catch up; if all slaves are lagged more than 30 seconds, MediaWiki will automatically put itself in read-only mode.

MediaWiki's "chronology protector" ensures that replication lag never causes a user to see a page that claims an action they've just performed hasn't happened yet: for instance, if a user renames a page, another user may still see the old name, but the one who renamed will always see the new name, because he's the one who renamed it. This is done by storing the master's position in the user's session if a request they made resulted in a write query. The next time the user makes a read request, the load balancer reads this position from the session, and tries to select a slave that has caught up to that replication position to serve the request. If none is available, it will wait until one is. It may appear to other users as though the action hasn't happened yet, but the chronology remains consistent for each user.

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