[dba-Tech] Optimal use of multiple ancient boxes

Arthur Fuller artful at rogers.com
Tue Aug 3 10:37:27 CDT 2004

Thanks! I'll give all this some careful consideration and start swapping
parts :) Incidentally, I just bought an LG dvd+cd burner/player for only
$119 CDN. I'm now eyeing the boxes deciding where to plant it.


-----Original Message-----
From: dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com
[mailto:dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com] On Behalf Of John Bartow
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 2:22 PM
To: Discussion of Hardware and Software issues
Subject: RE: [dba-Tech] Optimal use of multiple ancient boxes

I concur with Gustav.

It is the method I use in my office. I have 3 workstations, a mobile
(laptop) and an older Dell server with 1GB RAM and four hard drives, 3
9GB SCSI and 1 120GB ATA). Tape backup unit is on the server. Printing
runs off the server. Files are kept on the big drive on the server. I
only use local files when do DTP/Graphics work and when done send it to
the server's shred drive. SQL is on the server. Being that are only two
users at any given time on my office network the server can handle this.
Also backups are scheduled at night so I never see the drag it causes
(unless I'm working late). Using the server for printing really makes a

My CD burning is done on #2 workstation (which also runs my MusicMatch
Jukebox). Burning really drags application performance down and I
wouldn't be able to work efficiently on the workstation while burning a

I would add that I use a KVM switch so that I only need to have one
Keyboard/Monitor/Mouse for the whole lot. I can also share USB devices
through my KVM. I have units like zip drives shared off of the server
because I think that might get a bit odd trying to switch between them
with the KVM. (Inevitably I'd start writing to a zip disk switch
workstations and try writing form there too!)

When servicing clients PCs and able to bring them offsite I hook them
into the KVM also. Once I'm certain they're safe I can add them to the
network either via cable or wireless - whichever they have available.

John B.

-----Original Message-----
From: dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com
[mailto:dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com]On Behalf Of Gustav Brock
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 3:48 AM
To: Discussion of Hardware and Software issues
Subject: Re: [dba-Tech] Optimal use of multiple ancient boxes

Hi Arthur

Sounds more like a command center than the workplace of ours ...

Anyway, if the Compaq server is up to speed, keep it while it is OK. As
for the disks, the minimum size today for new install is 36 GB which
means that 18 GB drives are pretty cheap and 9 GB are only available as
surplus suppliers.

As for your setup I would recommend having one or some machines as
servers (file and print; and anything else: database, ftp, web) and one
or some machines as workstations. The mix is determined by your demand,
but the idea is to split the two functions and skip all peer-to-peer
connections because that clears up the situation: where is what? It will
always be on a server. Further, you can install or reinstall any
workstation without interfering with another workstation.

As for the setup of server and users I believe tutorials are available
around if no list members are at hand (William knows about the Windows
server). This is not my area so I don't.

It's a good idea to move some specialized functions like cd-burning to
another machine than your primary workstation.

If you need access to all email for all user accounts from all
workstations, you need a mail server. I (and Stuart I'm sure) will
recommend Mercury/32 which is extremely modest regarding hardware.


> Date: 2004-07-28 19:54

> As a member of all the dba lists, I'm all too aware that I'm not the 
> sharpest knife in the drawer :) So in that spirit, I'd like to poll 
> the members on this question:

> Given X PCs (in my case 3), none SOTA (state of the art), how should I

> be thinking of distributing tasks and resources (and also users) 
> across them? So far my tendency has been to put the fancy stuff (such 
> as dvd+cd
> burner) on the fastest box, my development machine. But I'm beginning
> think that this is stupid; that I should move the burner to one of the
> slow boxes (they're all quick enough to run wxp), so that I'm not
> wasting cycles on my development box doing things like backing up data
> to the dvd or violating various music copyrights :) The old boxes
> do much more than sit there, most of the time. They both run different
> versions of Linux as well as wxp, but I only play around with Linux,
> far from expert in its use -- it's just a learning experience for me.

> I should mention that I also have a pretty ancient Compaq server, with

> RAID and twin 400-Mz CPUs, that runs Win Advanced Server 2k. Mostly it

> runs nothing but SQL Server 2000 and the 2005 beta. It has mere 18GB 
> hard disks and that's not likely to change, given the cost of 
> replacing 5 drives.

> 1. I'd like to add Terminal Services to the server so I can 
> demonstrate to clients how that works when running an Access app. 2. I

> want to set up an ftp server (now that I finally understand how to 
> make it work behind a firewall! Like I said, not the sharpest knife). 
> Should I put it on the server? There aren't a lot of free GB there, 
> but I could easily point the server to look for its files on another 
> machine where there is a big disk available. The ftp server is not 
> really for public consumption; more like various clients, project 
> collaborators, colleagues and friends -- passworded entry, no 
> anonymous login, users profiled to grant and deny various directories 
> -- that sort of thing. 3. My three boxes are located in a U-shape so 
> that I just spin 90 degrees and address each one. I try to install 
> apps "chronologically" according to the abilities of the boxes, i.e., 
> the oldest apps run on the slowest box (Access 97 is installed only on

> the oldest box) and conversely. Some necessary things are installed on

> every box (i.e., Office). 4. I built this "notwork" up step by step, 
> with virtually no knowledge of how to set up a network. The result, as

> you might guess, sucks. I could bore you further with the details, but

> instead I'd rather ask how I get from this mess to where I want to be:

>         a) any user can use any machine, and get her/his profile, 
> directory access, Outlook.pst, etc.
>         b) currently it's all screwed up; from one particular box I 
> can see everything I need to see. Every other box sees parts of the 
> configuration, and none sees all. I think there is a wizard that will 
> let me copy the good config to all the other boxes, but I forget what 
> it's called.
>         c) should the server contain the instances of software such as

> Office, so that I update only one instance and every user hits that 
> single instance using a shortcut? I.e., shortcut to 
> \\server\folder\msaccess.exe "MDB2hit". I confess that I have no idea 
> how this stuff is done. I have worked in places where it was already 
> working when I got there, so I didn't learn the details. What I knew 
> was that I could log on from any workstation and get my Office menu, 
> my Outlook file, my database tools and so on. Didn't matter which 
> station I used. I entered my uid and pswd and that was that. That's 
> what I want to build here at home. I realize that there's an issue 
> lurking within: what happens when I open Outlook from Station A, don't

> close it, and then open it from Station B? I don't know. Maybe the 
> rule is that I have to close station A before opening B. In the ideal 
> world, I wouldn't have to think about this -- each station's instance 
> would automatically refresh.

> 5. I screwed everything up in the various chronological installations.

> When Setup asked me for a domain name, I thought that it meant I 
> needed to have an existing URL. On another box it's registered under 
> WorkGroup. I want to blow all these definitions away and create domain

> "D" and then place all the boxes in said domain, so that any user can 
> logon to any box and see her stuff, according to her profile (i.e. 
> users Arthur and Audra administrators and can do anything, while users

> Howard and Denny are mere lUsers and cannot shoot themselves in the 
> foot).

> How can I get from here to there? Do I have to nuke everything and 
> everyone and rebuild from scratch?

> Any advice from gurus who can turn "notworks" into "networks" 
> profoundly appreciated. Arthur

dba-Tech mailing list
dba-Tech at databaseadvisors.com
Website: http://www.databaseadvisors.com

dba-Tech mailing list
dba-Tech at databaseadvisors.com
Website: http://www.databaseadvisors.com

More information about the dba-Tech mailing list