|June 2, 2002
All the images in this article can be enlarged to 640 x 480 in a new window
by clicking on the thumbnail.
I’d thought it would be cool
for a behind the scenes look at how DSL/Cable Webserver runs. Then
again, almost everything we do around here is behind the scenes since this
website covers DIY webservering. Anyhow, let's take a look at the
server situation here at DSL/Cable Webserver. Now this article isn't
exactly a product review, but we do cover many different products.
Consider it more of a tour.
A little history.
I've been running a webserver
on DSL since the year 2000 and at the time, our webserver was a home-built
computer with an AMD K6-3 333 Mhz CPU overclocked to 350 on a FIC 503+
Click image to enlarge
Here are the complete specs
for that machine.
CPU: AMD K6-III (3.5 x 100 MHz
= 350 MHz)
Motherboard: FIC 503+
Memory: 256 Megs RAM CAS 2 -
(2 x 128 Kingston ValueRAM PC100)
Hard disk: 20GB Quantum AT Fireball
LCT 15, 4400rpm, 512k buffer, ATA66
Network adapter: Intel Pro /100+
Surprisingly enough, that
server was rock stable. It never crashed, never BSOD’d on me, never
hiccuped at all. The only time I would have downtime with that server
is when I rebooted the machine, which was quite often since installing
the multitude of service packs and patches for Windows 2000 always requires
a reboot. Left alone, the longest uptime the server had was 4 months.
This may not sound like much, but I am confident that if I didn't have
such itchy fingers to upgrade this or that and try new hardware, the uptime
would have been even longer.
The performance of the original
server was also quite good. Since most of the content on this site
is static, the CPU load averaged around 2-4% all the time. However,
the forums are dynamic and since they are coded in Perl, the CPU load did
spike to 60% or so when posting a message, doing a search, or anything
else that required processing by the server. But most of the time,
the CPU load was very low. This is not surprising at all since the
amount of visitors we normally cater to is easily handled by the AMD CPU.
350 Mhz may not sound like a lot today, especially since we have CPUs that
can run at 2.4 Ghz and above, but consider that the original Cobalt RAQ
line of servers were designed to handle up to 200 websites with the same
CPU! So handling a single website with a modest amount of traffic
is no big deal at all. Besides, the main bottle neck of this whole
website isn't the CPU, RAM, or HD, it's the DSL connection speed.
Up until recently, this site
was hosted on a 128k upload line, or about 2x faster than a 56k modem.
While the photos did load up a bit slowly, overall, the performance wasn't
bad at all. On a daily basis the site would transfer over 200 megabytes
upstream. Only recently did I upgrade the line speed of this website
to 384k. This is 3x faster than our previous speed but for long time
visitors, the only real difference was apparent in the photos since all
the text and forums still came up at the same speed.
Since I was in an upgrading
type of mood with the upgrade of the DSL line speed, I thought it would
be cool to upgrade the server as well. It was a very hard decision
to make since the old server was very reliable, it could handle all of
our loads with minimal CPU utilization, and it was a good friend.
As you can see, there was no single good reason to upgrade the server.
So why did I do it anyway? Upgraditis. All techies have it.
I have a mild form that causes me to upgrade at least once a year.
Actually, there were a few
things about the server that I did want changed. First of all, the
server was running out of hard disk space. I was using a 20 gig 4400
rpm (yes that's right, a 4400 rpm) hard disk and it was getting full.
Not with this website per say, but with other files I have. You see,
the webserver is also a home file/print server for me. That's where
I store some common files and other miscellaneous media files (read MP3’s).
I tried to fix this problem by purchasing a 80 gig HD, but the FIC 503+
motherboard wouldn't recognize it. Also, I was worried about data
security. I wanted to be able to have a disk mirror using RAID 1
just for peace of mind. Lastly, although the CPU was fast enough
for webservering, it was getting kind of slow for administration.
Processing log files, performing backups, and other housekeeping chores
were taking longer than I wanted to wait. I know, these are pretty
sad excuses for dumping a server that did it's job pretty well, but I went
ahead and started shopping. The fun begins!