[opensource] Selecting a Linux server distro?

Paul Betts paul at paulbetts.org
Mon Jan 19 12:28:46 EST 2009

> I'm looking at Ubuntu Server to start with.  Interesting differences from
> the desktop are that (I think) it doesn't start X11 by default, so you don't
> have that resource consumption when you don't need it, the userspace
> preemption timer is 100Hz instead of 250 or 1000, the use the deadline I/O
> scheduler instead of CFQ, and in-kernel preemption is turned off.  I can see
> how these things may be useful for maintaining higher throughput under some
> circumstances.

I don't think you're going to see much of a difference by worrying about these
things - if you're reading in large 11GB data sets, you're going to be preempted
by IO long before you have to worry about context switches being your primary
bottleneck. And as to the IO scheduler, 99.9% of your IOs under load are to the
same large sequential dataset, so why would the scheduler make a difference? The
IO scheduler makes a difference when you have lots of processes who are all
accessing things at random, your usage pattern doesn't fit this.

> Can anyone help me with this decision?  I'd like to be able to basically
> just install and go, configure things like SAMBA with a minimal amount of
> effort, install packages with apt-get, and upgrade rarely but effortlessly.
>  I almost never sit at the console, although a graphical console (1280x1024
> on the monitor gives me 160x64 text) is nice when I have to.  I want to have
> to start X11 on only the most rare occasions.  Mostly, I just login with ssh
> and use gnu screen for multiple virtual terminals.  Sometimes, I'll run an
> X11 app on the server, with the X protocol directed over the ssh link to
> wherever I'm working from.

I'd recommend just installing Debian / Ubuntu Server, and apt-get pidgin (or
any other GUI app), which will pull in the minimum you need to run X11.

Paul Betts <paul at paulbetts.org>

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