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

Robert Arkiletian robark at gmail.com
Sun Dec 7 19:43:51 UTC 2008

On Sun, Dec 7, 2008 at 10:05 AM, Joseph Bishay <joseph.bishay at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> 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.

I'm confused. Your MB has 4 slots. 2 are currently occupied. Why can't
you buy 2 more and populate the other 2 slots. Providing you buy
compatible ram to the existing ram.
Not sure but that MB/cpu probably doesn't support PAE (Physical
Address Extension). So even if you put in 4GB the board may only see
3.6GB or a bit less. Not sure if your cpu will support 64 bit OS.

that mb only has pci and an agp. I'm assuming your gigabit nics are in
pci slots. There is no point bonding them as the pci bus bandwidth
will barely support 1 gigabit nic.

You will definitely benefit from gbit uplink port on a switch

However, once you get to about 20 clients 4 gb ram is probably okay
but your single cpu may suffer. I would recommend upgrading the
motherboard and cpu. Dual core cpus are so cheap now (under $100) Get
a quad core if you can. But I don't think your mb can handle dual/quad
core cpu so you will have upgrade the mb too (another $100) and then
your old ram is probably ddr not ddr2. So new ddr2 ram (another ~
Your scsi drives+controller are good though, keep those.

One m
> 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
> everything.
> 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
> Joseph
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Robert Arkiletian
Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada
Fl_TeacherTool http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/Fl_TeacherTool/
C++ GUI tutorial http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/

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