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Old 06-17-2005, 05:10 AM   #1
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Linux Server Question


I am brand new to Linux, but have some very specific things that I would like to do with Linux and hope that someone on the site could offer some advice.

I would like to (for my own learning experience as a student) build a Linux server that would run on centOS while serving out a database constructed in postgreSQL, that would also be available on the internet.

I know this sounds like a lot for a noob, but I do have a lot of time and patience right now over the summer. As a student, I want to use this system to learn off of, and also create a working (live) internet accessible database that I can show to a potential employer when I am looking for an internship. I would only need to serve the database out to about two PC's (not in cluding the server) on my network.

Now that you know what my plans are, my questions are about hardware. I would like to first know whether I should purchase a low-end server such as the Dell SC420, or could I dedicate a PC as a server for this project. Would I need a Pentium 4 processor or would Celeron work for my purposes. How much RAM would I need, 512MB or 1G? What is a reasonable sized hard drive 80GB or something like 160GB? Also I'm not quite sure what SATA and RAID are. Would they be necessary for a project of this size (amateur-learning)?

I also am worried about Linux supported hardware. does anyone have specific brands for the necessary hardware that are Linux supported. And finally can someone possibly suggest a good system that's available that will meet my requirements for $450 or under? Or would I have to build it?

I apologize for the long list of questions, but I am eager to learn. Thanks for taking the time to help out a poor college noob.


Old 06-17-2005, 05:29 AM   #2
Registered: Jun 2004
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Hello Stevens,

First off I wouldn't use PostgreeSQL if I am not doing something really big. MySQL beats PostgreeSQl in smaller projects (MySQl is generally faster) and for me it was much easyer to install.

As for hardware, if you'll be only serving two PC's, then custom-built low-end PC will be more than enough. I think Celeron ~1Ghz CPU, 256-384 Mb RAM, 80GB SATA disk would be enough. Also I would like to say, that linux supports almost all network cards and modems, just avoid winmodems (internal) and youll be fine.

As for SATA and RAID, SATA is ATA with serial interface (old ATA was parallel) and theoretically have 150Mb/s throughput (SATA2, I think, can have 300Mb/s). RAID can be used to increase performance or reliability. Performance can be doubled with using two disks and reading/writing to them in parallel (this doubles throughput) or you can double the reliabilty automagically mirroring one disk to another. As for compatibillity - I have sata on my system and linux (starting from 2.6.6) fully supports all SATA devices I know (I am using VIA8237 here) RAID is also supported.

Hope this is what you asked for !
Old 06-17-2005, 05:45 AM   #3
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Athens, Greece
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Re: Linux Server Question

Originally posted by stevens

Also I'm not quite sure what SATA and RAID are. Would they be necessary for a project of this size (amateur-learning)?

May be you already know, but you can do software RAID using linux; you don't need a RAID controller. An old PC would be enough for your job; no need to buy new server.
Good luck.
Old 06-17-2005, 04:39 PM   #4
Registered: Mar 2004
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I agree with most of the comments made above. Go with MySQL, and get yourself a processor in the 1GHz range.
Most people are practically giving these away, or can be gotten for cheap. A computer of this vintage will not have
SATA. There is no need for it really for what you will be doing. If you do decide to go with two ATA drives though,
make sure that you put them on seperate controllers. Primary master and Secondary master, better yet try to find
yourself a system with ATA-Raid on it and just mirror the two drives. The external transfer rate of ATA is more than
capable of handling the internal transfer rate of two ATA drives... The internal transfer rate of an ATA drive is usually
in the range of 30-80MB's/sec. Even the 100MB/sec of ATA100 is more than adequate to handle that.

Note: That it is MBytes/sec not Mbits/sec as "Cron" previously wrote.

Depending on the size of the records in your database, you will probably be better off going for an Athlon or PIII
rather than a Duron/Celeron processor. The extra cache on the chips will help. Also, if you are not planning on
runing a GUI, then 256MB will be enough. But if you want to run a GUI then I would make it a minimum of 512MB.
Since you will be running a database and a webserver, a dual processor system would be nice (in case one of the
processes bogs down the other won't be affected). Although, it's not necessary, but heck, you can find dirt cheap
dual processor PIII systems on eBay, so you may consider that as well.

Most all x86 hardware is supported under Linux. I rarely find something that will not work. The most troublesome
are wireless cards and winmodems, neither of which sound like will be part of this project... Although, come to
think of it, some of the Raid controllers don't have great support. So you will probably want to research those
if you have a specific system in mind.

Old 06-18-2005, 02:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for all of the help everyone, I greatly appreciate all of the responses.

I was wondering if someone may be able to explain the purpose and function of both the controller and the SATA and ATA drives to me. I am new to servers and server terminology (my limited experience thus far has been in programming). Thanks again for everyone's help. The site seems great and the Linux community seem helpful.

Old 06-18-2005, 02:42 AM   #6
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: in a fallen world
Distribution: slackware by choice, others too :} ... android.
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I'm a bit surprised to see the other guys make such suggestions
without having the slightest clue of what kind of data you'll be
serving, whether the users will be able to only run standard
queries, what kind of concurrent user numbers you're expecting.

Many of the responses could be compared to:
"I need a car"
"A Ford will do, I've used them"
instead of:
"I need a car"
"What do you expect from the car?"

Old 06-18-2005, 03:55 AM   #7
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Good point. I never mentioned the usage. This is strictly a small scale student (interest-based) project. For the time being, I simply want to create a project in which I can use open source technology to create a simple database on a Linux platform, while also making the database available via the internet through a web server.

I am a radio communication hobbyist as well, so I'm thinking of creating a database in which I would be able to create tables to link frequency queries to geographical locations and vice versa, and also perhaps query radio services by band. I would also be able to link FCC call sign letters and digits to both frequencies and locations and radio services.

This is just a project meant to apply and demonstrate (for the moment at hand) minimal ability to create an open source technology online database served from a linux platform. The tables will be simplistic, and the two user accounts will be for my two existing PC's at hame.

So, there will be no heavy data handling, or big querying. Perhaps I will try to get more advanced when I better understand the technology and all of it's various tools and resources. I just love to learn and tinker

Thanks again for everyone's help with this.

Old 06-18-2005, 03:29 PM   #8
Registered: Apr 2002
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Btw - *I* personally dislike MySQL, I know it's very
popular in the community, and it IS slightly faster
than PostgreSQL, but before you make a decision
get yourself better informed:

Since you're a HAM operator you may (at some stage)
like Postgres' geographical data type ;}



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