About this server (sam)

Stats: 13:44:17 up 1832 days, 22:53, 0 users, load average: 0.00, 0.01, 0.00

sam.julianhaight.com is named for the brave Sam Gamgee, Frodo Baggins' tireless servant from J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings. It follows a long tradition of Unix machines named after mythological figures from Tolkien and other classics.




Sam is hosted by Accretive Technology in a Switch and Data facility in Seattle's internet nexus, the Westin office building.


I maintain my own web server for several reasons:

Why such a slow processor?

"This kind of optimization has been slowed down by the limits in network bandwidth. At present, you saturate ten-megabit networks so easily that there's no reason to optimize more.

-- Linus Torvalds on kernel optimizations for Apache (Open Sources)

Intel would like you to think that a fast processor is as important now as it was in 1985, but the truth is that for most applications, the CPU is hardly utilized. As the load average above will no doubt confirm, this machine is no different. A load of 1.00 is full utilization of one CPU. The machine can still run smoothly up to a load of 3x the number of CPU cores and run acceptably well beyond that depending on your personal frustration level. Realistically, a web server only has to be as fast as it's connection to the internet. The Internet is a fairly slow medium compared with the age-old 10baseT standard (approximately 2 megabits). 286s were acting as file servers for 10baseT networks long before the Internet was popular and although serving web pages is a harder job than serving files, a pentium is still more than adequate.

Why Unix as opposed to Windows? It's more appropriate for this application. Microsoft's was never designed to be an internet server. They shoe-horn gee-whiz features on an unstable foundation - they put the cart before the horse.

Why ubuntu? ...as opposed to some other Linux package (Slackware, SUSE) or some other Unix implementation (BSD, Solaris, SCO). This one is a little harder to explain rationally. It's mainly because I'm used to it. There are few real differences between these different flavors of unix. For most functions, it just comes down to an issue of style. Any Unix implementation can run most if not all the software that this system runs. There are some differences in the kernel's speed, but they are so slight that it's hard to say for sure which is faster for any particular application. Linux's hardware support has outpaced the other *nix flavours in recent years. I am able to get information about my server like CPU temperature. I can boot from the latest 3ware SATA raid controller. These type of things might be more difficult with freebsd or another unix. I have used other linux distributions over the years, originally using the venerable slackware.

Why Apache? "It's really the only choice." -- no longer. I'm now partial to nginx. I'll switch sam over someday.