I recently got a rack-mount server, the 1U StorageWare 1400, from the always-friendly guys at Pogo Linux. When I first received the server, I was a bit underimpressed, mainly because the last Pogo Linux server I wrote about, the Mini-Pro 1U, was such a clean, well-thought-out package. Once I had the machine plugged in and booted up, though, my attitude quickly changed. In this Daily Feature, I'll open the hood of this beast. You’ll see that it’s a great choice for small to midsize companies looking for a server with room to grow.
Under the hood
One peek under the hood of this server, and you'll see why I was impressed. The spec list looks something like this:
- · Dual Athlon Thunderbird Processors (default 1.40 GHz)
- · ECC Registered PC 2100 DDR RAM Micron Chips (256 MB standard)
- · Up to four IDE or SCSI hard drives (for SCSI, add $295)
- · CD-ROM
- · Dual 3Com 10/100 Ethernet adapters
- · Red Hat Linux
- · Standard floppy drive
The body of the server is a sturdy metal with plenty of ventilation and sliding rack-mountable tabs. The rear of the machine reveals the standard fare for a server: dual Ethernet, dual USB ports, serial ports, mouse ports, keyboard ports, monitor port. It’s a bit heavy at 39 pounds, it’s loud (think KISS loud), and it pumps out the heat, bringing the temperature of my office up five or more degrees. But we don't really care what it looks like or how many decibels it produces. What we care about is how it performs. And it performs well.
Since this server runs Red Hat (7.1 at the time of this writing), network setup was a snap. Although I had to attach a display, keyboard, and mouse to the server to run the initial setup (I could have done without if my test network had a DHCP server running), once basic networking was a go, I was able to jump onto another machine on my test network, fire up a browser, and use Pogo Linux's own tricked-out version of Webmin, aptly called PogoConf. The PogoConf tool alters the display of Webmin, adding a Quick Start icon that immediately has you setting up networking, setting up UNIX and Windows shares, and administering users.
The PogoConf tool also adds an icon for a Share Manager tool, which aids you in the administration of various networked shares. With this tool, you can take care of all the necessary Samba administration tasks, and it’s put together in such a way that new Samba administrators can more readily grasp what they’re doing.
The configuration of the server via PogoConf is not limited to Samba. All of the configuration tools packed into Webmin are packed into PogoConf. Also, the documentation for the PogoConf servers is easily accessed through the PogoConf tool. This is very handy because you can have access to your manuals without having to be physically located at the server.
As per normal, the testing tool I used for this server is the tried-and-true httperf. With this tool, I can compare the 1400 against other servers I've benchmarked and see which comes up short.
For more information on the httperf tool, take a look at my Daily Feature "Benchmark network performance with httperf."
The command I used was for a single hit test (only one machine hitting the server). For comparison, I put the results of this test next to the results of the same test as run on an Athlon 750 with 256 MB of RAM (see Figure A).
Considering that the machine used for comparison was an Athlon 750 with 256 MB of RAM, you might think that the test would favor the 1U, but the test didn’t exactly turn out that way. In fact, if you only glance at the results, you might think that they’re far too close to warrant purchasing this machine. Look closer, though. Take a look at the reply time and the I/O results. In both instances, you’ll see that the 1U was able to process requests more than twice as fast and handle nearly four times the input/output as the Altura. It appears that the 1U was able to handle a much harsher load than the Altura and scale better.
Who would benefit
The results of the test are fairly indicative of the 1400's performance. They don’t as obviously point out who would benefit most from this type of machine. From my perspective, this type of machine is best suited for the small to midsize company looking for a server with plenty of room to grow. Because of the four removable drive bays and the ability to add an expansion slot, this server would certainly grow with your company’s needs.
Because the server runs with Linux, you can be sure that it’s no one-trick pony; it’s ready to do pretty much anything you need. From routing to mail to ftp to the Web, the 1400 is ready. Any small to midsize company looking for a server that needs to pull off a lot of tricks could certainly do a lot worse than the Pogo Linux 1400.
I've seen faster performance, and I've seen easier setups, but as far as bang for your buck and one-stop shop, it's hard to beat the Pogo Linux 1400. At $2,299 for the basic machine, you know you're getting your money's worth. Compared to the Compaq ProLiant DL360 rack-mount server (1.0-GHz Intel Pentium III processor, 128 MB of RAM, no hard drive, 24X Max CD-ROM, 10/100 Ethernet), which sells for $2,049.32, you’re getting far more hardware for approximately $180 more. Give the guys at Pogo Linux a shout, tell them Jack sent you, and enjoy the stability of Linux and the flexibility of the 1400 rack-mount server.