GPO servers handle the call for judge's order

GPO servers handle the call for judge's order

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

When U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson announced his decision to split Microsoft Corp. in two, district court and Government Printing Office Web sites were ready for an onslaught of downloads.

But the crunch wasn't all that bad.

In the minutes after Jackson's judgment went up on the Web June 7, traffic was significantly lighter than for Jackson's previous rulings in the long court case, said Mike Bright, a GPO electronic products development specialist.

Check the text

The text of Jackson's order, available in both Hypertext Markup Language and Adobe Portable Document Format, was posted at precisely at 4:30 p.m., just as U.S. financial markets closed.

'We were as close to exact as we could be,' said Bright, who had synchronized his watch with U.S. Naval Observatory time.

During the first half-hour, the site drew 40,000 hits and sent out 10.1G of data over the Internet, Bright said. It registered a maximum of 200 simultaneous hits in the initial minutes'only one-quarter as many simultaneous hits as GPO servers fielded last November when Jackson issued his findings of fact, the first of his three major decisions in the antitrust case.

Last year, Jackson's views were largely unknown.

But after Jackson ruled in April that Microsoft had broken the government's antitrust law, 'everybody seemed to feel that the remedy was a foregone conclusion,' Bright said.

The largest file posted to the site on June 7 was the 53K .pdf file of the final judgment, Bright said. Immediately after its release, download time was 30 to 40 seconds. That shortened to about 15 seconds by 5 p.m. and to only a few seconds by 5:30 p.m.

Compared with the November 1999 findings of fact, which ran to nearly 200 paper pages, the smaller file size of the final judgment was 'a huge help to us,' he said.

The GPO site has 15 Compaq AlphaServer 1200A systems running Netscape Enterprise Server software. A Big-IP load balancer from F5 Networks Inc. of Seattle ensures that each connection attempt goes to the most available of the 15 servers at the time.

The GPO network has four T1 lines and is in the process of getting a 155-Mbps Synchronous Optical Network OC-3 connection, Bright said.

Links to Jackson's decision appeared simultaneously on the Web site of GPO's superintendent of documents,, and on the Justice Department's page devoted to the Microsoft case,

The smooth server operation for Jackson's final judgment contrasted with the September 1998 release of then-independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report on the investigation of President Clinton [GCN, Sept. 21, 1998, Page 3]. Demand for the Starr report severely overwhelmed government servers during the weekend following its release.


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