Opinion request about a file server

Michael Powell nightrecon at verizon.net
Fri Jun 5 20:32:50 UTC 2009

Wojciech Puchar wrote:

>> This is one place where FreeBSD is very good. It will give you
>> performance on slightly downlevel hardware that Windows Server just can't
>> touch.
> is really pentium 4 "downlevel" hardware? sound like a joke to me.

Sorry - it wasn't really intended that way. Please note that "slightly 
downlevel..." was meant to refer to a combination of older Netburst 
architecture and consumer retail motherboard. 

The Core Xeons that replaced the old Netburst processors are much better 
performers. In a true datacenter server environment wrt file serving it is 
better to spend money on I/O rather than CPU. A server motherboard (as 
opposed to consumer retail) will have better I/O subsystems, enabling better 
> i made all-need server for small office (8 people) using PIII/500 and 384
> MB RAM. i charged them only for configuration and new harddrive, server is
> for free :)
> it runs mail server (including spamassassin, and dovecot), file and print
> server (samba), asterisk VoIP software, squid proxy and www server.

Reminds me of my very first FreeBSD server box. It was a Pentium 75MHz that 
I had overclocked up to 100MHz. I used it on my then dial up connection as a 
gateway/firewall and pretty much the collection of services you described. 
With a user load of one (me) it did just fine.

> with proper configuration it rarely swaps, and can easily saturate
> 100Mbit/s LAN, just not with single transfer, but it's not hardware
> problem, but windows problem :)

At some point (when I went to a DSL broadband connection) I replaced the 
above box with a K-6 II 500MHz with 384MB RAM. Same collection of multiple 
services. This box was previously utilized for beta testing Windows NT 3.5, 
3.51, and NT 4. So I was able to make a direct comparison between running 
Windows NT and FreeBSD on the exact same piece of hardware. FreeBSD simply 
just made better use of the hardware and outperformed NT. In order to match 
what FreeBSD was capable of NT would require a more powerful hardware 

It still remains that, in spite of the OP using a consumer retail 
motherboard and not a true server component his FreeBSD/Samba arrangement 
will work just fine for what he and his 4 users have in mind for their 
needs. I believe the performance characteristics of FreeBSD will maximize 
his return on CPU cycles.


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