[K12OSN] Which option do you recommend for increased server capability?

Joseph Bishay joseph.bishay at gmail.com
Sun Dec 7 18:05:09 UTC 2008


I hope everyone is doing well.

For those following at home, over the past few years I've been running
a k12LTSP server hosting 12 thin clients.  It's had its fair share of
ups and downs and been a tremendous learning curve.

There is now an opportunity to expand the role of the server from just
the computer lab it is in to other computers in the building.  We're
looking to get the classrooms wired up and take some of the existing
really old Windows machines and turn them into thin clients running
off the server.

Now the audience I'm dealing with is not remotely tech-savvy, and
first impressions count.  I estimate that we'll be going from 12
clients on one 100 MB unmanaged switch to maybe 20 clients through 2
switches or so.

The clients range from Pentium I all the way up to Pentium II as they
are all machines donated to the Church (I drew the line at the two 486
machines!).  Average RAM on the machines is 64 MB.

The server is an ASUS p4p800 running a 3 GHz Pentium 4 CPU and has 2
GB of RAM.  The server has two 37 GB SCSI Cheetah drives in RAID 1 off
a hardware RAID controller.  It has 2 Gigabit network cards plus the
onboard gigabit NIC (I turned it off because initially when I first
installed Linux the onboard one wasn't recognized but modern versions
do recognize it).

Whenever the system runs slow, the criticism is that it is Linux that
is slow, and if we had Windows it would be faster.  I, of course, know
this is not the case, but this is the perception so I want to make
sure it works perfectly when we do the switch.

As I am going to be increasing the load on the server, I thought of a
number of options that I wanted your recommendations on.

1) Increase server ram to 4 GB

This one is probably the most expensive options since we've got 2x1GB
sticks in the motherboard so I can't just purchase 2 more GB, I'd have
to pull them out and buy 4 new ones.

2) Overclock the ASUS P4P800 motherboard

The comments about this motherboard are such that overclocking it is a
'feature' so to speak.  All overclocking I've ever seen talked about
is in Windows so I don't know how Linux would be affected, if at all,
nor would overclocking made a difference to help the load.

3) Replace the 100 MB switch with a gigabit switch

The server already has gigabit cards.  Many of the thin clients have
gigabit cards that I bought and installed.  The bottleneck currently
is the switch.  I saw this 24 port gigabit switch ( DGS 1024D
http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=338) from D-Link for $200.  I
imagine that this would significantly improve the performance of

4) Bond the server's two gigabit NICs into the switch from #3

I suppose that would increase the output of the server even more.  Or,
as another option, split the Church into two halves, each half coming
through one of the two gigabit NICs  (the third onboard NIC would then
be for the Internet).

5) ?? Other options I did not consider?

What do you think?

Thank you

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