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[K12OSN] Re: How Low can you go?

Does anybody have experience with using it with just a few computers that
could share?


Because the typical desktop user is clicking and viewing, and occasionally loading something, the load on AMD64 3000 is about 3% average per user, that is about 90 MHz per user. Allowing a margin for 64 bitness, you should be OK with as little as 100 MHz per user. Because you have so few clients, you probably need a factor more, because the load will be variable. That is, it is quite probable that all three are active at once. 1 gHz should be useful for three. Where you cannot be short is RAM. You must not swap so you want 256 to 512 MB for the OS and services and 50 MB per client so you could likely get away with 512 MB for three clients and you need a few hundred MB for file caching. I have had thirty clients on 1.5 gB.
My advice would be to splurge on a new server, one of the barebones minimalist things. I have seen AMD64 3200, 512 MB, gigabit, case, PSU, no hard drive or OS for as low as $400 on speicals.e.g. http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18419  at CDN$329.  One of those would make a great server and you could use a bunch of P3s as thin clients. Steal their hard drives and a CD drive for the server. You do not need viedo card, keyboard, monitor or mouse on the server after installation, so you can borrow those and administer the beast from one of the clients. The advantages of this route is more snap on the desktop and expandability. If you do expand, get a switch with at least one gigabit/s port for the server, e.g. ASUS GIGAX1024P Smart 24-PORT 10/100MBPS + 2-PORT 1000MBPS Managed RACK-MOUNT Switch These are cheap but effective.

Another low cost approach would be to use the thin clients as a cluster server with clients on top. An example is OpenMosix + LTSP, which would share spare cycles from one machine to another by shifting processes. At 100 mb/s that would not be snappy. You might help by adding gigabit networking, but I am not sure that the result would be worthwhile. Many desktop apps and servers share memory among processes and these do not migrate. OpenMosix with MigSHM does that, but migration is overhead. I am not convinced the extra configuration work would justify the performance with slow nodes.

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