Thinking about buying a server
I am considering buying a server to host some of my websites and for general development and testing. I have experience remotely accessing and maintaining servers, but I have never owned one and I am really just looking to get my hands dirty here.
I have been looking through the classifieds and have found a few Dell Poweredge 1750's for under $150. Does any one have any experience with these or have any other recommendations? I don't need the top of the line here, so older technology will do.
Here is a total noob question, but do I need to have a RAID?
For development and testing buying a real server is overkill, buy a cheap PC, install gentoo or some other linux distro on it, and use that.
The fact is for what you want it for much of the server will be wasted, and I doubt very much you will need raid, as long as you keep a back up as you work then the loss from a hard drive failure doesn't come close to the cost and effort of setting it up.
I had thought about buying a cheap PC, but then I found a few used servers for around $150, so I thought I would give one of those a try.
You are definitely right that a server is totally overkill for what I am doing, but I figure as long as I keep it under $200 I'll get my moneys worth.
I have been reading some review of the Dell 1750's and they seem pretty solid.
I do have a 9 year old Vaio desktop. I can't remember the exact specs, but I didn't think it would be enough to run as a server.
10 years ago was early pentium3, I have one of those as my test server, it's more than powerful enough to to do anything I need. Just make sure if you are planning to test scripts on it that you invest in a few safety methods, having a shell logged in with a high negative niceness is nice if you ever accidentally trigger an infinite loop, or something similar.
You might have to choose the system wisely though, you won't have resources to waste, setting apache to use one thread, instead of the default 8, and getting rid of services such as cron might help you save some resources as well.
If you are planning to buy a server though I hope you have fun with it, you might want to research the arch first, some arch's can't compile certain libraries(too much arch dependant code).
Wow, thanks for the great input. There is definitely a lot I need to learn about servers.
I might try formatting the old Vaio, installing Linux and Apache and going from there.
You mentioned "having a shell logged in with a high negative niceness". That sounds like something I should know how to do but don't.
Know of any online resources where I could get a breakdown of this kind of info?
Also, where would be the best place to look up info about the server's arch? I found the specs on the Dell site at
Sorry for the noob questions.
If you plan on hosting sites for other people to see, you will need to make sure you have a static IP address (that will not change), also you will need to set-up the DNS if you plan on having an easy-to-remember name for it. You will need an ISP that will allow you to have a decent amount of upload bandwidth (if you are really serious, you need at least a T1 line), and really, the most important thing you need to worry about with a server is the operating system. Do not use win9x, xp and the such. It is recommended that you use Linux or WinNT or some sort of server-dedicated OS. For example, Windows XP has a certain connection limit, which could be triggered by just one computer if the connections aren't properly closed. Linux takes much less of your system resources than windows does, and it's free, keeping your server fast and your budget low.
By the sounds of it's everything should be fine, it's a x86 arch, which is the same as most desktops.
Allow me to explain a little as well, nice-ness is a a *nix concept of importance, something that is "nice" will have a positive value, and is least important, this is handy for any task that does not need to be done in a hurry, and should only really run when the services are available, an "un-nice" process, aka one with a negative value, will steal processing time from other tasks, even if the other task is interactive(like say, apache) meaning that these processes will most likely not run slowly should an intensive process be run, you should be careful though, an intensive task with a negative niceness can cripple the system until the task is completed, since it steals processing time from other tasks.
From a normal SSH login you should be able to runTo launch a child sh process with a nice value of -19, which is about as low as you can go.
For a test system anything will do, you don't need anything powerful
I have a dual p3 933mhz, 1 GB ECC, Raid-5 w/ Windows 2k3 more than enough power for all my needs
In my own opinion, I think the basic priorities for putting together a server are software before hardware. Poorly performing, buggy or desktop-oriented software can bring a web host to its knees fast. Get rid of it.
Hardware is obviously important, but I think most people that are new to servers tend to focus on the numbers too much. You don't need huge processor speeds that measure in the Gigahertz. A decent processor at a few hundred Megahertz is fine for the needs of many. Memory (both RAM and hard disks) usually fit the idea of "the bigger the better", but there's still no need to go crazy. For example, my main web host has a 10GB HDD, three-hundred-and-something RAM and somewhere-in-the-low-300's Mhz CPU.
So long as the hardware is decent and put together right, you're not running buggy or pointless-crap software, you should be fine with far from spectacular specs.
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