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Linux servers

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I have RedHat 9 on a quad P90 that I use for compiling linux software for porting and a few network tools.

As far as GUI being a hog there is a reason for that and it's based a LOT on your hardware.  By PC design any IO device (video, keyboard, sound, etc) that transfers data via a interupt slows down the CPU.  IE when the video has tata for the CPU to pick up it flags a IRQ.  The CPU then stops processing data, fetches the waiting video memory from the address space, and then resumes processing until another interupt is flagged.

What this does is comes down to a "pure" video efficiency=directly CPU performance.  Back with the "earlier" generation machines a lot of computer vendors were selling junk video cards.  They had a lot of colors and some even 3d but when the screen was refreshing a lot of pixals the CPU load was easily %90+ just for servicing the video card.  Over time video card manufactures have got a lot better at making chipsets that are more efficient at transfering their data with less CPU intervention.  With the gamer video card craze this is a performance issue where as back then it was just how many colors you had on your screen that counted.  Your video may be the reason Gnome is taking so much resources.

Another possibility is your linux x-window video driver.  Unfortuantly some Linux drivers are "hacks" of other drivers made to get a card working.  Though the DO work they do not use the advanced video card instruction sets so are very CPU ineficient refreshing video.

As far as OSs I concider myself unbiased for the most part.  I find my favorite ones quite useful for their tasks (I use Windows, Linux, and OS/2 to my advantage).  For Windows 2003 it's the only platform I've even concidered "as good as" Linux for "some" server tasks if not a little better in a few areas.  

My experience with Windows 2003:  Positive: Very very stable (my win2k3 servers are as stable as my Lunix servers and just don't crash), the cache and file system are more efficient than Linux NFS (For networks with huge file arrays {like Furtopia} with hundreds random file seeks that can help.
Negative:  Win2k3 requires a lot of resources to run efficiently.  Furtopia runs with a min of 1 gig of RAM.

Though speaking of efficiency.  Something fun you may wish to play with is OS/2 v4.0 .  I have never seen yet to this day ANY OS performance ever come close to OS/2 in effiency or network performance and it's as stable a OS as they come (note any stable OS can be crashed be a really bad app).  One of the reasons for this is Linux and Windows are both coded in "C" where as OS/2 is coded in pure asembler.  Asembler bypasses the C translation layer and is huge more efficient.  The down side is it is harder and takes longer to code/port.  This efficiency is so great that OS/2 entire OS (network libs and all) fits into only 4 megs of RAM!!!!!  Compare to Linux and Windows that can be taking 32-64+ megs of ram.  So when you run a program like a web server with hundreds of threads/hits going off at once, each of those threads has to transfer through only 4 megs of OS function calls vs 64 megs plus for each of these threads/hundreds a second there is NO comparison in the performance at all.

A good example is when I used to run Furtopia here.  Furtopia's primary server was a Athalon XP 2400.  Furtopia's Backup server was a Cyrix P133+ (cheaper cost but matches the speed of a Pentium 133 ) computer running OS/2!  Whenever I would do maintaince work on the server I'd switch DNS over to the backup server (P133+).  OS/2 was so efficient most members didn't even notice the server change to the P133!  I could never do this with with another OS.  Another example running OS/2 the server never used more than %3 CPU resources.  Under Win2k3 CPU resources now are around %34-%65.  Ie to do the same workload takes a lot more OS instruction calls.

Just something interesting to think about!


Quote (WhiteShepherd @ Feb. 02 2005, 4:14 pm)Another possibility is your linux x-window video driver.  Unfortuantly some Linux drivers are "hacks" of other drivers made to get a card working.
You said it all WS!

I'd just like to add that while nVidia drivers are not open-source, they do have a dedicated Linux team and nVidia does manage CPU and memory very well.

Darius Greywind:
Linux video drivers are a touchy issue, many lame chipmakers refuse to release specs so OSS drivers can be written for them. You get binary-only drivers that are useless unless you have *exactly* the same OS/kernel as they did.

I think that unless you're lucky enough to have all hardware in the MS HCL, their server OS isnt terribly reliable. And it does require a lot of resources, making it undesirable for anything low-end at all.

I first used OS/2 as a desktop OS over a decade ago. While it is rather nice on anything 386DX+, even 4.0 has inadequate hardware support to run on anything under 7 or 8 years old. That, and its really not supported at all, unless you're one of the large banks that still uses it extensively.

NFS is probably a bad idea, unless you're in a UNIX-only environment. Support for it under other OSes is, well, bad at best. Samba on the other hand, is extremely useful. It can trivially replace an NT4 PDC, and eliminate any need for BDCs, since it wont crash. And it works quite seamlessly with Win9x/NT.

As far as local filesystems, ext3 is fine for desktop use. Serious servers would likely be better off with ReiserFS, which scales in all directions extremely well (but has higher minimum resource requirements). Having multiple filesystem options is one of those things that Windows doesnt do, that it probably should. NTFS just doesnt do everything equally well, and it couldnt if it tried. They've been promising WinFS for years (over a decade actually), and it has yet to materialize, even in an alpha form. When they do, perhaps I'll consider Windows a serious server platform again.

As far as scaling down, well, Linux in a wristwatch is a reality (thanks IBM). I think that really says it all right there.  

Quote (Darius Greywind @ Feb. 02 2005, 4:48 pm)As far as local filesystems, ext3 is fine for desktop use. Serious servers would likely be better off with ReiserFS, which scales in all directions extremely well (but has higher minimum resource requirements).
Since I got my 80GB drive, I use Reiser on /usr and /home and never went back. It's a *LOT* more tolerant of being badly unmounted (power outages, cats pulling out the power cord, X-lockups, etc.) than ext2/3 and fast!!!

Just my $0.02 on Reiser

OS/2 support is not as outdated as 7-8 years.  When I installed OS/2 last year on a XP 2400 Nivida chipset, video and ethernet I was able to find all the drivers online.  Though it can be a pain sometimes to dig something up, OS/2 "still" remains supported by a loyal user following that are still writing updates.  In fact many *nix procrams will cross compile under OS/2 and you can even run X-windows under it.



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