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Re: [K12OSN] OT: Build a server challange :-)



Jim Kronebusch wrote:
Given some concerns that have been presented about my possible server config, I figured
I would offer out a challenge. You are the IT guy at a school with 100 thin clients. You have been given approximately $15,000 to build a server setup that can handle all of
those clients simultaneously.  Your goal is to build the best system you can for the
full amount of money.

I think what you've proposed is fine, although I'd get a quad-port NIC card or whatever it takes to get an interface per lab rather than bonding them. However one more lab will be about the limit for expanding a system with one monster server. I think it would be easier to deal with a setup with one heavy-duty home/ldap server and a bunch of disposable k12ltsp servers - and you'd be able to upgrade it piecemeal later.

> Also would be nice to have a central point for
application updates/installs.

You can't get any more central than a single machine... However then you are locked into having only one version when you might want to let one lab test an update before rolling it out everywhere. Doing an 'ssh some_machine yum -y update' is not a big problem, even across hundreds of servers since you can wrap it into a script with whatever set you want to do at once.

What server configuration would you use?  Single server, multiple servers, LTSP load
balancing, LDAP, shared /home?

A server per lab makes sense to me - and given your gig links to each lab you can put them all in a central location and use a separate network for the nfs-mounted /home.

What network configuration would you use?  Teamed NIC's, dedicated VLANS, dedicated
physical lans? (Side note, I usually put the server on the LAN with a single IP, I don't
usually pass the internet traffic through the server such as the standard setup)

I only trust things that lots of other people are running with no problem. I don't think a lot of people do software bonding or vlans, so I'd try to have an interface per IP and let the switch(es) deal with everything else. Lots of people do run the NAT/gateway setup though, so I wouldn't expect problems from that and it gives you the advantage of being able to run systems other than thin clients over the same link.

What OS would you run? RedHat AS, CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, VMware images of the
aforementioned?

What LTSP version would you run? 5, 4.2

The CentOS5 based k12ltsp makes sense now and would probably be a good long-term choice for the /home and ldap server. In another year or so, the apps may lag behind what will be available on the fedora and ubuntu fast-track distributions, though, because the enterprise-tyoe

Anyone up to the challenge!  If so, take this seriously, I may just purchase what you
suggest :-)

You have to solve your speed problem with the nfs-mounted /home first. Can you repeat your tests using a standalone server first, then nfs-mounting a /home directory (using a separate interface for the mount if possible), and then adding the LDAP authentication so you can see where the slowdown happens and try some options to fix it? Be sure the nfs mount is async and has a reasonable block size specified. There shouldn't be that much difference when reading over nfs.

I'd also try to build a backup system. Backuppc running on a fast desktop box with a big disk in another room might be good enough but anything that you can't replace should have offsite copies.

--
  Les Mikesell
   les futuresource com


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