Leo Server / WinXP Clients Scenario / Please help thx


Hello. I'll try to be brief as possible.

Current Setup:

- 1x Windows Server 2003 SP2 (Dual Xeon 2.8Ghz/3GB RAM)
- Services: DNS, DHCP, File Shares, RRAS (Terminal/VPN Server)
- Clients: 26 total, 10-domain users on WinXP SP2 (research lab) / 1-iMac Aluminum w/Parallels / The rest WinXP connected DHCP for internet use.
- Professional Gigabit Ethernet wired throughout building.
- 2 WAN connections (10down/1up and 3up/3down)
- Hotbrick Dual WAN Firewall LB-2
- 2x 24-Port Netgear Gigabit Switch

This server is old, slow, outdated, and processor is loaded all the time, and crashes frequently taking down entire network/sharing/services for 10-15 mins each time occasionally multiples times per week. Reliability is KEY here.

- Mail and Web is hosted 3rd party, and not enough storage for mail now as company grows, based on packages avail. from www.isqsolutions.com.

I've been pricing out future expansion to include hosting own mail server separately, dns server, and file server (to replace current)

quoted $11,000 + taxes for:
3x Intel 8-core CPU/Asus Mainboard 4U rack w/4TB HDD/4GB RAM/QUAD Gig-LAN/3ware RAID card + Windows Server 2008 Standard (on all 3).

They also want to be able to host their own archives/wiki/internal reference library (what is the best way to do this?) in the future with an internal communications feature, IPsec VPN, and whatever else comes along the way.

I need help. I love Apple and Mac OS, The 1 iMac was a first step to get them on-board for switching Lab to all MAC. So far management is extremely impressed with the reliability of this 1 mac. They are open to MAC Server possibility if it will provide seamless functionality to windows clients.

Is 1 Xserve good enough for what we are trying to do? Is Mac OS Server capable of providing good reliable windows file services/wiki/vpn/mail/dhcp/dns for the entire organization? I am fairly proficient with mac and would love to get a mac server in here, but what about integration issues? I can always run a VM on the mac if there are specific windows programs, but there isn't. this is a research and production company, future programs would include incorporating warehouse inventory and product inventory server.

What do you suggest? Stick with the PC rack units and windows server or go with Mac Server? will I need just 1 xserve and loading it up with RAM, or would I have to have 2 to distribute the load?

THANKS! Appreciate everyone's hard work in answering this, really!

Kees Buijs

One server might be enough but i think is better to take 2 to spread the load and improve reliablity (although my file server is down about 1 to 2 times a year and the mail server about the same time.

The mail server does not need to be to heavy loaded, unless you do a lot with mail (like providers). Just take a low-end xserve with a huge harddrive and you should be well on the way.

The file server should be high, of course also with a couple of large harddrives. For both servers, take the unlimited version of the SERVER software, so no additional costs are needed when the company keeps growing.

For both servers i think memory should be reasonable but not fully loaded, but memory costs just a little so loading it fully will not be that expensive.

Unless you are quite handy with OS-X server software and google, i would suggest taking a support contract for a least a year.

Good luck, Kees


so basically you're saying, get 2 Xserve's with lots of storage, about 4GB ram is good to start? Apple RAM from the apple store, or buy some from somewhere else?

So which server would be the front lines, dns/dhcp/vpn/wiki server? the mail server?

And to address the issues with all windows clients, is this something that would be a problem or? I've read many forums that it works, but its not as stable as a mac client on a mac server.



I think 2 Xserves would be a good start. If you decide to keep Active Directory around (I got the impression that those were the 2003 domain users), you can integrate the Mac OS X Servers into the domain. Conversely, you can use the tools to export the LDAP info from your AD into a new Open Directory domain (or just start fresh with OD). With that amount of users, you may want to consider setting up a simple OD Master on one server and an OD Replica on the other. You'll need a directory service to support services like the iCal server and other collaboration services.

You can easily run DNS, DHCP, VPN and Wiki in Leopard Server. Are you describing Windows clients for file sharing or other services? You can use the PDC to support user accounts for the Windows clients (which also requires an OD infrastructure) or you can configure an LDAP plugin on the Windows client (like pGINA) to integrate directly with the OD. If you are talking about file sharing, then the SMB server may fit your needs.

If you are looking at getting going, you may want to talk to an Apple rep to get a demo to use Leopard Server and Xserve hardware in your environment. This way, you can see if everything clicks for you first hand and eliminate the uncertainty to some degree.



Ok, turns out they don't need a mail server anymore, so its just file server for windows clients and DNS,DHCP, wiki, and VPN. question is.. will 1 server be good enough then, if I get about 10GB ram? I'm thinking of a Mac Pro then, because its got the extra hdd bay and we already have 3 extra 750GB Seagate server hdd's sittin on the shelf we were going to use in the current win 2003 box.

Also, I've been reading and hearing everywhere that Leopard Server isn't near ready and worked out all the bugs to be in a production environment, especially with DHCP, and File services for windows and VPN for windows clients. is this true?

I think budget is what will kill this operation... getting 2 xserve's plus services will run about $10,000 + anyway.. and they are cheap. I know getting a more reliable system is worth the extra $, but if leopard has all these problems, then is it really more reliable and stable than a windows box?

thanks again for the help

Kees Buijs

The amount of memory is not that important, add more if you less you do not have enough. Fast (and large) drives are the main issue for file servers. All the additional services can be run easily on the file server, that file sharing will be the bottle neck, the rest should not be a noticable load on your server (unless the amount of requests are hugte, what should not happen in this small an environment).

Maybe you should consider buying some external firewire cases for the drives as they can then be mounted externally.

For proper working of leopard i can not help you, but my impression is that at least the biggest amount of problems are solved and apple keeps updates coming at a good rate.

Once working fine, doing updating is not always wise as updates do sometimes a lot more harm the good (any brand, any os, any developper has this problem, but some make it their primary goal it seems).

Good luck, Kees