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Re: [Xen-users] Server purchase pointers

Meh, I've always been a little suspicious of the network block device
stuff.  It means that a network problem can be a lot bigger than it 
otherwise would be.  On the other hand, I know plenty of people using 
them, and they seem to work ok.  I myself bought a very small (two server)
xen vps company from a friend that uses drbd in an active/passive 
configuration, and I haven't had trouble with his two servers in a year.  

All my other stuff, though, is on local disk, which works pretty well.
I've got spares for everything, so worst case I drive down to the data 
center and swap drives from one box to another.  There is downtime, but
it's simple.

So yeah, uh, I guess I can't help you too much with that part.  But cheap
hardware?  that's what I am.. 

If you are assembling yourself and you aren't really into assembling 
hardware, stick with the barebones.  Supermicro calls it the "super server"
it comes with the chassis, motherboard, fans, etc.... all wired in, and
the heatsinks and rack rails in a box.   You pop in your own ram, cpu, 
disks and screw on the heatsinks and you are ready to go.    Make sure 
you use an ESD wrist strap and don't do it over carpet.

For hardware, I like supermicro, and right now I think the quad-core 
56xx CPUs in a dual-socket configuration with either 96 or 144GiB
ram is the best deal;  8GiB modules can be had for $65 for no name (transcend)
and $85 for Kingston.   (if you want 3 modules per channel for the 144g 
boxes, you need dual-rank ram, which is like $90 per 8GiB module.)

Tyan barebones are also excellent.   I prefer supermicro mostly because
their chassis changes less often, so I can often use an ancient 
'scratch and dent' chassis and put in a new psu, motherboard, backplane,
and save a few hundred bucks, but unless you are setup for this sort
of thing, you are probably best off just buying the barebones, and in
that case, tyan is as good as supermicro.

I'm a big fan of Kingston for cheap ram.  It's really, really cheap;  
it usually works,  their configurator tool is pretty good, and when 
it breaks, the warranty is excellent; back when I was using used stuff, 
I'd buy broken systems on ebay with Kingston ram, test it and RMA the
bad ram for working ram.  

(I mean, Kingston is still a cheap ram brand, If I had infinite money,
I could do better, but as far as cheap ram brands go, they are my 

If you don't want to build yourself, there are all sorts of people willing
to build you supermicro stuff.  I suggest getting multiple quotes
for the specification you want, and then go back and pick your own 
parts, then get multiple quotes with the parts you pick (for example,
most of the time the ram that the builder uses costs more than the 
Kingston, even though they use no-name ram without a transferable 
warranty, while Kingston has a lifetime 'no questions' warranty even
if you got it on ebay.) 

If you want a specific builder recommendation, I like kingstarusa.com.
I'm renting an office above their location on kifer and wolfe in Sunnyvale.
If you are local, they are pretty great for parts if you are building
yourself.  If you check the price on provantage they will match it, 
which saves you a lot on shipping (assuming you pay your use tax like 
I do, so the provantage "ship from California to ohio and back 
to California to avoid sales tax" thing doesn't get you anything but 
high shipping costs and a long wait.)  And at least once, they've
RMA'd a supermicro part for me even though I told them that I bought 
it somewhere else.  

I haven't bought anything built from them personally,  just 'cause 
i like building that stuff myself, but I hear good things.

But yeah, the dual-socket 56xx CPUs with either 12 or 18 8GiB ram modules is 
the way to go right now, hardware-wise, if you ask me.    18 modules
means 3 modules per channel, which means you are running at 800mhz,
but eh, that's still a lot of ram.  I think you get 1033 with 12 dual-rank

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