My ikiwiki instance is quite heavy. 674M of data in the source repo, 1.1G in its .git folder. Lots of [[!img ]] (~2200), lots of [[!teximg ]] (~2700). A complete rebuild takes 10 minutes.

We could use a big machine, with plenty of CPUs. Could some multi-threading support be added to ikiwiki, by forking out all the external heavy plugins (imagemagick, tex, ...) and/or by processing pages in parallel?

Disclaimer: I know nothing of the Perl approach to parallel processing.

I agree that it would be lovely to be able to use multiple processors to speed up rebuilds on big sites (I have a big site myself), but, taking a quick look at what Perl threads entails, and taking into acount what I've seen of the code of IkiWiki, it would take a massive rewrite to make IkiWiki thread-safe - the API would have to be completely rewritten - and then more work again to introduce threading itself. So my unofficial humble opinion is that it's unlikely to be done. Which is a pity, and I hope I'm mistaken about it. --KathrynAndersen

I have much less experience with the internals of Ikiwiki, much less Multi-threading perl, but I agree that to make Ikiwiki thread safe and to make the modifications to really take advantage of the threads is probably beyond the realm of reasonable expectations. Having said that, I wonder if there aren't ways to make Ikiwiki perform better for these big cases where the only option is to wait for it to grind through everything. Something along the lines of doing all of the aggregation and dependency heavy stuff early on, and then doing all of the page rendering stuff at the end quasi-asynchronously? Or am I way off in the deep end.

From a practical perspective, it seems like these massive rebuild situations represent a really small subset of ikiwiki builds. Most sites are pretty small, and most sites need full rebuilds very very infrequently. In that scope, 10 minute rebuilds aren't that bad seeming. In terms of performance challenges, it's the one page with 3-5 dependency that takes 10 seconds (say) to rebuild that's a larger challenge for Ikiwiki as a whole. At the same time, I'd be willing to bet that performance benefits for these really big repositories for using fast disks (i.e. SSDs) could probably just about meet the benefit of most of the threading/async work.


It's at this point that doing profiling for a particular site would come in, because it would depend on the site content and how exactly IkiWiki is being used as to what the performance bottlenecks would be. For the original poster, it would be image processing. For me, it tends to be PageSpecs, because I have a lot of maps and reports.

But I sincerely don't think that Disk I/O is the main bottleneck, not when the original poster mentions CPU usage, and also in my experience, I see IkiWiki chewing up 100% CPU usage one CPU, while the others remain idle. I haven't noticed slowdowns due to waiting for disk I/O, whether that be a system with HD or SSD storage.

I agree that large sites are probably not the most common use-case, but it can be a chicken-and-egg situation with large sites and complete rebuilds, since it can often be the case with a large site that rebuilding based on dependencies takes longer than rebuilding the site from scratch, simply because there are so many pages that are interdependent. It's not always the number of pages itself, but how the site is being used. If IkiWiki is used with the absolute minimum number of page-dependencies - that is, no maps, no sitemaps, no trails, no tags, no backlinks, no albums - then one can have a very large number of pages without having performance problems. But when you have a change in PageA affecting PageB which affects PageC, PageD, PageE and PageF, then performance can drop off horribly. And it's a trade-off, because having features that interlink pages automatically is really nifty ad useful - but they have a price.

I'm not really sure what the best solution is. Me, I profile my IkiWiki builds and try to tweak performance for them... but there's only so much I can do. --KathrynAndersen

IMHO, the best way to get a multithreaded ikiwiki is to rewrite it in haskell, using as much pure code as possible. Many avenues then would open up to taking advantage of haskell's ability to parallize pure code.

With that said, we already have some nice invariants that could be used to parallelize page builds. In particular, we know that page A never needs state built up while building page B, for any pages A and B that don't have a dependency relationship -- and ikiwiki tracks such dependency relationships, although not currently in a form that makes it very easy (or fast..) to pick out such groups of unrelated pages.

OTOH, there are problems.. building page A can result in changes to ikiwiki's state; building page B can result in other changes. All such changes would have to be made thread-safely. And would the resulting lock contention result in a program that ran any faster once parallelized?

Which is why rewrite ikiwiki in haskell, while pretty insane, is something I keep thinking about. If only I had a spare year.. --Joey