Webserver setup HELP!!!

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Hello everyone;
I'm trying to help a friend with his webserver performance and was hoping for opinions. When he updates his ecommerce site, there are sometimes over 5000 people attempting to login with username/password. Therefore, login can take some people 15-30 minutes. From what I gather, his provider has 2 dedicated machines for him, as well as a firewall.

I know this is a wide ranging question, but could I get some opinions on do's and don'ts, please(Mainly software, but some hardware advice would also be welcome)? Such as "go with Solaris/Unix, or definely not Windows," or, "javascript is a no-no." Also, is it true that PHP/MySQL would not be a wise choice given the load on the server? And being as I know basically nothing about firewalls, where do I start with that one? I sure appreciate any comments. Thank you very much!
The firewall is fine as long as port 80 is allowed to pass through it. PHP/MySQL is fine.. where I work we use that setup on several machines and we get alot of traffic. I believe Linux or Unix and an Apache web server would be best to reduce GUI strain on the server.
Thanks for the reply.
My experience on such a setup is nonexistent. I guess my first question is what will take care of the load balancing on his 2 systems with a UNIX/Apache setup? Will a separate load balancing server be necessary?
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