White House Web site moves to Linux

Linux cache front-end but presidential site sticks with Solaris

Updated The White House Web site has been moved onto a Linux platform after its administrators managed to successfully side step an attack by the Code Red worm.

Netcraft reports that Whitehouse.gov is now being hosted by a peering firm and that the site uses a Netscape-Enterprise/3.6 Web server on a Linux platform. [But this is slightly misleading see update below].

Prior to its forced move, Netcraft suggests the site was run on a Sun server, and the site still may be, since Netcraft's data on this is far from conclusive (as explained in Netcraft's FAQ).

As previously reported, one of the main features of the Code Red worm, which targets vulnerabilities in Microsoft IIS Web servers, was to attempt to flood the White House Web site via a co-ordinated distributed denial of service attack.

The attack failed because it was against a specific IP address, and not a URL, and the worm would check for a valid connection before launching an attack. By moving from one IP address to another, Whitehouse.gov successfully avoided the attack.

The move onto Linux is interesting but should be seen as the incidental consequence of moving the site so that it is hosted by a peering firm, not a ringing presidential endorsement of the open source operating system. When Microsoft got its Domain Name System (DNS) servers in a twist earlier this year it partially outsourced their management to Akamai, which used Linux servers for the job - much to the embarrassment of Redmond. ®

Update

Netcraft have been in touch to tell us their results show that the Akamai cache now used to front-end the White House Web site runs Linux. The site itself is probably still on Solaris, said Netcraft, and this is something we might have inferred by the fact Netscape Enterprise was the Web server. Duh!

External Links

Whitehouse.gov's OS according to Netcraft
Whitehouse.gov
Netcraft's FAQ

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