[buug] Low end web server

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Nov 30 11:37:35 PST 2001

Bill Honeycutt wrote:

> This is going to be a web server running Apache and little else.  We need to
> publish some server-side reports to about 100 people in the field, but I
> don't think we'll get more than 100-200 hits / day on the server, so this is
> a very low volume machine.
> Hardware-wise how low should we go, in your opinion?

If you go under a 486 with 64MB RAM and a 2.1 GB hard drive, you'll
probably regret it.  But maybe not.  

That's what ran my medium-traffic Web / ftp / mailing-list / ssh-shell
server for most of the 1990s.  

It eventually got replaced by a K6/233 with 64 MB RAM a pair of 4 GB or 
so, nice, fast IBM SCSI drives -- which is temporarily out of service 
until I swap in replacements for the drives, its place being filled by 
an aged PII/450 with 128 MB RAM and a pair of 9 GB Quantum SCSI drives.
Neither of the latter machines breaks out a sweat under any load, though 
the K6 really should get its RAM quadrupled or more, since it's so

I assume that puts your hardware picture in a bit better perspective?  
People new to Linux -- especially servers -- usually make the mistake of
vastly overestimating the need for CPU power, while slightly
shortchanging I/O and in particular the disk subsystem.   But that
usually doesn't matter, because even a low-end bow with a single,
shlocky IDE hard drive can reliably saturate a T1 line.

> So long as it is rack mounted, I have no other physical qualifications
> in mind.  We probably will mirror the drives so that recovery would be
> easier.

Better have a backup strategy.  Using software RAID-1 (mirroring) will
make you feel clever right up until you realise that something's gone
from _both_ drives.  Start here:


And it'd be nice if there were a nice, safe choice in reliable,
well-supported PCI ethernet chipsets.  It's difficult to say what's your 
safe bet, these days.  Intel is playing variation-du-jour with its
EthernetExpressPro 100 chipset, and the glory days of the DEC
1040/21041/21140 "Tulip" chipset ended shortly after Intel bought and
discontinued the production line.  Someone might be able to recommend a
reliable Tulip clone used by somebody.  (NetGear?  Samsung?  LinkSys?
ADMtek? ASIX?  LiteOn?  MXIC?  STmicro?  Kingston?  D-Link?)

You see, the other mistake newcomers to hardware for Linux keep making
is to assume that newer is better.  Older, standard components are
likely to have mature, well-tested drivers.  If you stick to quality
parts, you can do very well indeed.  (This is why a lot of people 
stocked up on $24 NetGear cards that had genuine DEC Tulip chips on
them, before supply ran out.  They're still good.)

> So here's the question:
> 	What brand? 
> 	What model?
> 	How much memory?

My favourite brand is "built it myself so I can control component
selection", so I can't help you there.  RAM is so cheap, why not just
get 1/2 a gig?  But 64 MB will probably be enough.

This message falsely claims to have been scanned for viruses with F-Secure
Anti-Virus for Microsoft Exchange and to have been found clean.

More information about the buug mailing list