[buug] ideal

Mark Handley mjh at aciri.org
Sun Dec 10 17:45:21 PST 2000

>I am in the process of setting up an ISP so they can host sites that need to
>do data base stuff.  I am going to use Apache with tomcat and MySQL for the
>I need unbiased (if that is possible) input on the best platform.
>Money is no object, reliability and stability are  the priorities at any
>for hardware I am looking for feed back on using either a sparc sever or x86
>And also what would the ideal OS be if money wasn't a considerations, I am
>considering Solaris or linux.
>I want the most reliable platform.

You really need to say something about the kind of load you expect to
get, and what you plan to do about failovers, etc.

If you need to run on a single box, and expect heavy load, then you're
going to need something that supports a large number of processors.
Solaris is good for this.

If you don't expect such heavy loads, then this is not a
consideration.  I'm very happy with running Apache on FreeBSD - it's
really really stable.

Personally right now I think that Linux is a better desktop OS, and a
worse server OS than FreeBSD.  They're both stable, and perform well,
but Linux systems are more popular targets for crackers than FreeBSD
systems, so if reliability is your main concern, then you might prefer
FreeBSD.  I also like the procedure for getting security advisories,
etc.  The fact that the whole system (kernel + userspace) is developed
and shipped together means that the whole process just seems well
thought out.  In general the FreeBSD development process seems to
favor stability over features whereas Linux seems the other way round.
For a server the FreeBSD model is good, for the desktop the Linux
model is probably better.  If any of the journalling filesystems for
Linux ever become rock-solid, this may tilt the balance in favor of
Linux for some server uses, but they're not quite there yet.

You probably want to consider a hardware RAID solution.  I'd
personally stear clear of software RAID for mission critical
solutions.  You need hot-swappable disks.  You need redundant, hot
swappable power supplies.  If you live in Berkeley, you need the best
UPS you can afford as PG&E don't seem to be able to keep the power on,
even when rolling blackouts aren't happening.  You may want to look
into the issues of software for managing the UPS, and shutting down
cleanly/starting up automatically.  I don't know what software is
available for this, but the software availability may swing the OS
choice one way or the other.  Similarly the software availability of
the backup software you want to use may swing it one way or the other
- we rolled our own for FreeBSD so I don't know what's commercially

For many problems you might want to consider a small cluster of
machines with a load manager as the front end (something like Cisco
Local Director).  Depending on the task you're solving and the way the
problem can be divided, this may give you better reliability by
allowing you to take a machine down for preventative maintenance or to
test out software upgrades without affecting external availability.
Again, the availability of software to manage such tasks might affect
your OS choice.

Anyway, there's no good single answer to your question.  For
reliability on a small-to-medium sized system or cluster of systems,
I'd go for FreeBSD.  For a large multiprocessor, I'd go for Solaris.
But software availability may make the choice for you.

Hope this is of some help,


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