[CentOS] Best Motherboard

Thu May 15 23:44:20 UTC 2008
Guy Boisvert <boisvert.guy at videotron.ca>

John R Pierce wrote:
> Simon Jolle sjolle wrote:
>> On 05/15/2008 04:24 PM, Sam Drinkard wrote:
>>>    About 2 years ago, I build a server     
>> [...]
>> What are the advantages of building your own server comparing with
>> products from HP, Dell and IBM? Is it cheaper?
>> I never heard of DIY server hardware market.
> Well, there is always the category of home servers...  in my case, these 
> are usually handmedown PCs, old, too slow to be a modern desktop, but 
> perfectly usefull as firewalls, DNS/mail/web servers, etc.   My current 
> home server is a 10 year old P2 450Mhz rock solid board.     But, I'd 
> never use something like this in a business where its mission critical.
> I, for one (an opinionated one at that:D) do NOT recommend homebrewing 
> proper rackmount servers from raw parts...  storage integration issues 
> alone can break a project like that.
> there's a middle ground... folks like Intel and Tyan make 'server 
> bases', or kit servers, which comes with the rack chassis, hotswap 
> backplanes, disk drive trays, mainboard and power supply, you just 
> supply the CPUs, RAM, disk drives, and any extra cards you need.
> 6 or so years ago I built up and deployed a pair of Intel SE7501WV2 2U 
> kits in my development lab at work, with dual xeon 2.8ghz and 3GB ram.   
> these machines have run flawlessly running RHEL/CentOS.   My department 
> had no capital budget, and we could get these kit servers on 'expense' 
> money, then populate them with our 'misc' budget.    fully configured 
> these were way under 1/2 what we'd have paid for a comparable HP or 
> Dell.   This would be the equivalent system with today's chipset and 
> CPUs, 
> http://developer.intel.com/design/servers/platforms/SR1500-2500/index.htm 
> (the SR2500AL).  The SKU SR2500ALLXR (2U, mobo, 1 of 2 PSUs, and 5 x 
> SATA/SAS 3.5" hotswap backplane)  goes for $1300-1600 street prices 
> (wow, just about what I paid for the SE7501WV2 6 years ago! hmmm, when I 
> bought mine, the slimline CD was standard, now its optional, oh well)
> these Intel server kits are even setup so you can 'brand' them for VAR 
> applications, they have downloads that let you put your own name on the 
> BIOS startup and so forth.   In fact, the SE7501 2U servers I have were 
> branded by Sun when they initially reentered the x86 server market, as 
> the SunFire V65x
> What you get with a brand name server (HP, Dell, etc) is a warranty and 
> onsite support.    This is critical to some deployments and sites, and 
> fairly superfluous to others.

The company i work for used to buy only Dell servers which aren't bad. 
Support is generally good and they even have a repository for Linux. 
Since i'm in charge, we don't buy Dell anymore for various reason:

1) They costs more than server barebone and in our case, we don't really 
need to pay a premium for a service we don't need.  I prefer to have a 
couple of spare servers that i can do tests while not in production

2) Dell, as the others VARs, uses a lot of non standard hardware parts. 
  So if you want to replace let's say a mainboard (when out of 
warranty), you'll have to pay a premium to get it.

3) Right now, we have about 5 Dell PowerEdge 2550 and they are not 
supported anymore by Dell (i know, it's old!).  They don't have the 
admin tools for CentOS (and Upstream) and i think it's the same for 
other distributions.  So support is good for the first years, after a 
while, they seem to drop it.

So now, we buy Tyan barebone.  The last batch was 2U Tyan Transport 
TA-26 (B3992-E).  This model use a Broadcom Serverworks chipset, support 
Registered ECC DDR2 RAM up to 64 Gigs and has 2 sockets F for Opteron 
CPU.  CentOS works great right out of the box (we use Adaptec 3405 or 
3805 SAS/SATA controllers).  The mainboard is standard E-ATX and can be 
upgraded or put on another machine.  This model has 8 SAS/SATA hot swap 

The only downside is that sometimes, it takes time to get them.  It's 
like Tyan has problem producing enough for market demand.

I have a couple of other servers that i built with Antec rackmount 
chassis and the same mainboard.

My advice: Go with VARs if you have special requirements and/or want 
premium service.  Go with server barebones if you have access to 
hardware competent tech people inside your company.

As for Intel or AMD for CPU, i buy 90% AMD because if they don't 
survive, just watch the prices skyrocket as Intel would be alone.  AMD 
is selling at competitive price so no hurt here.  The new line of low 
power Opteron are great IMHO.

As a last note, i don't have any affiliation with Tyan and i think you 
could get comparable hardware from SuperMicro and the likes.  Choose 
your hardware for Linux, not the opposite!

Hope this helped a bit.

Guy Boisvert, ing.
IngTegration inc.