May 22, 2010

HP Proliant ML350 G6: servers make lousy desktop PCs

I thought I should just share my experience with this server since I'm probably going to stay away from brand servers for a while after this.

First of all, they're crappy as desktop PCs: video cards with lousy or no hardware acceleration (2D and 3D), extraordinarily long boot-up times, even longer boot-up times if the power gets cut and brought back again due to (very loud!) fan tests, disk array tests, memory tests, PSU tests and other mumbo jumbo and then there's the hardware support: you definitely can't run XP, sometimes 2000 Server and even 2003 on some servers. I couldn't even get it to boot Windows installation disks. No free help anywhere. So I gave up and sent it to the "smarter" and more experienced guys at "Tech Support". :\

Linux though, installs wonderfully and boots up fast. Unfortunately, it gives a mediocre desktop experience due to the slow video card and running a Windows OS under KVM wasn't satisfactory enough for me because of the slow storage (2 x WD Caviar Blue -- I wonder if they got robbed: for a $1300+ server, it had no SAS drives for RAID). I mean with 6GB of RAM and 4 Xeon Cores with HTT enabled, totaling 2 threads per core and hardware virtualization support, this server can run several virtual machines without strain, but it's hopeless without fast storage. The two drives it had barely topped 50MB/s reading.

Servers can be quite a hassle. I wonder what real server admins think of desktops vs. servers since I don't know one to be able to ask...