top is a GNU utility that indicates how busy a GNU/Linux system is and what processes and resources are being used. I was reading an article on Dave Richards – City of Largo Work Blog and found a gem. It shows a terminal server being hammered by an inconsiderate task.
“The shot below was taken from our current GNOME server and you can see that wfica (the citrix client) chews CPU as the canvas is repainted. The server is certainly not taxed and we could get by running it in this manner;”
While it is wonderful the Dave Richards can tune his servers, the big point for me is that a GNU/Linux terminal server can be hammered and still be quite usable. By backing off the load just a bit, one gets far superior performance for a lot of tasks. For the record, his “top” shows 9K+ tasks running on that terminal server. Users of that other OS get bogged down regularly on a normal PC with 50-100 tasks running. Dave has 883 users in his top (really only 250 live people, but multiple sessions exist). That server has 64gB of RAM and costs a pretty penny but it is far more efficient with only 256MB of RAM per person and gives better service because commonly used files are cached (top shows 3.9gB).
Looking at the system as a whole, this means Largo is spending much less money on hardware and software simply because of the flexibility of GNU/Linux. One can use that other OS for similar purposes but, if it cannot make more than a few people happy at once on a PC, what’s the point? M$ spent years discouraging people from using thin clients and GNU/Linux calling them “dumb terminals” and “cancer”, but now everyone’s doing it because it’s a better way to do IT.
In case anyone is wondering where the applications are, they are on other terminal servers. That one’s just for the sessions so it only runs GNOME and a few utilities including the Citrix ICA client for connecting to that other OS. Largo has a terminal server for OpenOffice.org, and another for FireFox in case you are wondering.
His hardware is pretty wild:
“Dave Richards said
Migration to 64bit Linux is complete and things are working pretty well. Even with 100 users, OOo opens in about 2-4 seconds, nice
We actually consume far less tax dollars than other cities. With basically no desktop costs, all we have to buy are servers; and we are only doing so every 5 years now.
server is a HP ProLiant DL785 G6 8439SE 2.8GHz Six Core 4P 64GB ICE Rack Server (AM438A). We will be running it for 5 years, and got it for a lower price than list price on the web. I would expect to have around 200 concurrent Firefoxs open in the coming months.”
Web prices start around $31K + shipping. Compare that with the price of 250 PCs… It’s less than half price and noise (at the desk), power-consumption, shipping, installation and maintenance are tiny in comparison.
GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux if you want to get the most out of your spending on IT.