How far is a desktop from a server?

There is an interesting post at The Open Source Advocate blog – “Win the desktop, and you will win the server“.  Tristan Rhodes, the author of the blog, suggests that in order for an operating system to conquer the server market, it should first conquer (or fight reasonable well for) the desktop market.

I have to admit that when I just read the article, I felt almost like agreeing.  But something kept buzzing me from the inside, so I kept that tab open for a few days.  Now that the post was processed at the back of my brain, I have to say that I don’t agree with that point.

There is, of course, a correlation.  Once sysadmins start using something they like on the desktop, it’s pretty soon that they try to see how well that thing handles server tasks.  So, of course, people using Windows on the desktop were checking out how to make a server out of it.

But.  I don’t think that conquering the desktop is the only way to the server.  Not at all. There are more ways, I somehow feel that those other ways are actually simpler.  For one thing, Linux has never been particularly good with desktops.  However, only the stubbornest and the most ignorant of sysadmins will argue against Linux server superpowers.

Furthermore, real sysadmins (which are, of course, in the minority) clearly understand the differences between a desktop computer and a server.  What’s good for one might not be so good for the other.

And then there is this whole “enterprise” issue.  Big companies (aka “enterprises”) aren’t about desktops.  They are about support services, customizations, and having someone to blame.  If there is someone on the other end of the twisted phone cord, they’ll grab him with both hands.

The historical examples in the Open Source Advocate’s blog post might be related or they might not.  The times were different anyway.  But even if these examples are related, they aren’t as heavy as they seem.  There are many factors to consider (prices, distrubution, documentation, hardware requirements, etc).

What do you guys think?

Managed dedicated hosting anyone?

If anyone of you guys knows of any good hosting company that offers managed dedicated servers, now is an excellent time to let me know via comments or the contact form. So far the best I’ve found is . I am also talking with, but something tells me that they will be a bit too expensive – not that I am jumping to conclusions here though.

I’ll need two servers to start with. I might grow up to anywhere from 6 to 20 in the next 6-8 month. Servers should have fast processors (3.0 GHz is ideal). Better even if they will be duel CPUed. 2 GBytes of RAM should fit me fine. I am not yet sure about the storage. I know that it has to be SCSI and that there should be at least 40-60 GBytes of it. Maybe more. I’ll have better numbers later. I will also need a lot of bandwidth. Both incoming and outgoing. 20 GBytes per month is the red line minimum. 200 GBytes per month is something I feel more comfortable with. 2 TBytes will make me smile one extra time.

Software-wise, I’ll need a Linux-only setup. Fedora Core 4 is preferrable, but anything Red Hat labeled should do just fine. I’ll need MySQL 4 or above, perl 5.8 with A LOT of CPAN modules that I’ll need to install myself, python 2.4, and a Subversion client.

What do I want from the hosting company? Well, I want my servers to be available 24×7. That’s the main requirement. Then, I’ll need their help with backup configuration. I’ll have a large MySQL database to backup and a lot of small files (think mail spool and proxy cache scale). Also, I would expect them to manage security updates and fixes for all the servers – I’m really out of time to keep up with that right now.

An additional strong wishlist item would be a LAN interconnecting all my servers. I’ll have a lot of traffic between the servers and I don’t see any reason why I should pass it via a outside network, where it is slow and expensive.

That’s about it.

Oh, the budget line? Let’s say anything within $300 USD.

Are you still with me?


MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher) is monitoring utility, which runs on many platforms and is capable of collecting and graphing statistical information such as network traffic, CPU/Memory/Disk space usage, etc. MRTG can gather information using both SNMP protocol and external scripts. Below are few pieces of my MRTG config file together with scripts, which I felt like sharing.

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