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  • Question

  • (Ok, found my way here with Ken's helpful announcement after unwittingly posting this to the Antigen forum . . . boy, they must've thought I was nuts!) 

    Hello All:

    Well, I've finally gotten WHS up and running (waited for PP1, and then got busy -- sorry), and, while there are some challenges to be met in do-it-yourself land (more on that later), I must say both that I like it, and that it seems to do what it's meant to do rather well and without much fuss.

    Being a hobbyist type with no pertinent formal education, particularly where networks are concerned, the one thing that has been a little bit disappointing is that the Server is meant to do ONLY precisely what it's meant to do. In a corporate environment, this makes good sense to me. At home, I'm not so sure. I understand that tradtional server bragging rights are about uptime and such, but that's not so much of an issue in my basement. My hope, therefore, had been to run WHS both as intended AND as an occasional use second workstation -- something that would allow me to move the slide scanner and similar peripherals that clutter my desk up down to the basement with the WHS server.

    Having installed WHS PP1, futzed with it a bit, broken it, fixed, it and generally started to learn something about it, I do see the logic behind the traditional view. First, the data files on the server are precious, and we dont' want a crash to damage them. Second, you don't want to be playing a game or slide-scanning, say, when the WHS box is busy backing up or load balancing. Well, OK, I get it. So here's the dilemma:

    1. The original plan was to run WHS on a box with an AMD64 3800x2, 2 gigs of RAM, and peripherals of that generation. That's where it sits now.

    2. An alternate plan would be to pull out the 1998-vintage Dell workstation and run WHS there -- 2 PIII 800's, 512k of RAM (we can make that a registered Gig for pocket change, but that's all that will ever fit), 80 m/sec SCSI + IDE, and similar generation peripherals. Assume that I'd throw PCI/Sata Card in there and move the WHS-style drive array over from the AMD box.

    Question 1: Given the PIII 1 gighz min spec, will this box run WHS in suitable fashion? And how much difference will I notice between the old box and the much more muscular AMD config? If I/O is king, and all that matters is drive and net throughput, I'm likely OK. If the cpu is busy during load balancing and such, the old box may not be the best configuration for WHS (although it may still be better than a dual purpose box, if I'm following the philosphy here). Thoughts?

    Question 2: I'm assuming that WHS will at least see the old 10k SCSI drives in the box, and that I can use them for non-pool tasks. Right? And could I also you add SCSI drives in the storage pool? (yes, I know to put the system on the big, new 750gig SATA drive bought with WHS in mind).

    Question3: This is the more intersting one. Suppose we assumed I didn't have this embarrassment of riches in the old hardware department, and there was only the AMD box. Mightn't it be possible to temporarily "suspend " the server functions for a while so that WHS could double as a workstation?

    That would seem to make a crash unlikley to hurt much data-wise, assuming that we have a non-pool drive for the workstation apps, particularly given that WHS runs chkdsk periodically anyway (gotta get that going on the XP boxes!). 

    That would, for example, allow the server to work as a workstation occasionally by day (or evening), and to do backup and load balancing and "server stuff" at night. Are all you network gurus so sure that's fundamentally evil? Think of it as the poor home-owner's quasi VM-ware, and ponder the idea again -- still evil? After all, much of the time the server's just going to sit there doing nothing. We don't like that in the corporate environment either, right? Seems at least a fair question.  

    And if it is, would this be a "somebody write me an add-on" kind of request, or would this have to be done my the MS team deep in the OS? And if the former, mightn't it make sense to be able to suspend the tasks manually and/or on a daily schedule?

    So: I've already turned on 3D functions and installed NVidia Video Drivers without incident. Going to proceed to try a game or two (not that I ever get to play them anyway), just to see if I can within the WHS environment. I just want to satisfy my curiosity about how the system does or does not work.

    For the time being, however, even if that works, I'll likely go with the flow and use the old box as long as the answers to questions 1 and 2 are favorable (which means I'll have TWO boxes mostly sleeping in the basement, eh?). But the last question is still the one that interests me most. And let's face it, sooner or later, the teenagers are going to try turning this thing into a game server, aren't they?

    Thanks in advance for furthering my education (and as you can see, I really need the help!).

    Mike

    • Edited by Mike_Va Thursday, September 4, 2008 6:07 PM spelling
    • Moved by T. HeadrickMicrosoft employee Monday, September 8, 2008 9:52 PM hardware questions (Moved from Windows Home Server Software to Windows Home Server Hardware)
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:03 PM

Answers

  • Hi,
    Just to add to the dilema!
    Don't forget that by design, your system partition is limited to just 20GB. Now there are 'hacks' available to change that, but there is nothing to say that some update from Microsoft might not either then wreck your system, or re-set it back to 20GB. (unlikely, but possible).
    Quite a lot of software could well find it problematic, managing with the WHS disk system. The general answer is to install another disk, outside the pool, for your other operations. Once you start doing that, you are introducing a further cost which you are trying to get away from.

    Also, security. If your bank wrote to you and said that they were going to re-purpose some old workstations they had in storage, which were never designed for server operations - but they are cheap - and we are going to use them to store all your financial records on. Your reaction probably wouldn't be printable on a forum like this.
    I regard the data on my server, at least as valuable as my bank data, if not more so. Therefore, this server is going to have the minimum extraneous services, and certainly isn't going to have things like RDP being used on a regular basis.

    After saying all that, on one of my test servers,I have trialled a virtual machine which had XP installed. It worked just fine and didn't appear to have any effect on the WHS portion. However, as I'm no expert on virtualisation, my knowledge isn't enough for me to trust that type of system on my production server.

    I guess in the end, you have the option of trying it. If you have other copies of your important data, then you won't have lost anything,if there are any problems!

    Colin
    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:47 PM
    Moderator
  • I'm glad you found that announcement helpful. Microsoft is still working on the issue, but I'm sure they'll have it resolved by the end of the day, now that someone has actually complained about it. (I noticed just after the move, but fixed my bookmarks and moved on without giving it another thought...)

    Q1: I like the AMD solution better, because it's somewhat newer hardware. There are issues with old hardware beyond the obvious performance question. Old hardware may have been subject to numerous power fluctuations, old electrolytic capacitors may be failing, etc. Fans and hard disks have moving parts, therefore have limited lifespans, so how are the CPU fans on that PIII system? Performance-wise you would see some difference, but not as much as you might think.

    Q2: You'll probably have to install storage drivers to get the SCSI drives visible. This often involves the usual (for older generation installs) "F6 floppy".

    Q3: Not really. You can't install Windows Home Server in a dual boot configuration. You can install another operating system afterward, but it's a server; it needs to be up during the backup window (default midnight to 6:00 AM) and at other time to work as a server. As for doing nothing, umm, your WHS sits there all day long, enduring mind-numbing boredom, only to leap quivering to the ready when someone hits the Remote Access web site. (Sorry about that, I'm feeling much better now...)


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:18 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:56 PM
    Moderator
  • If it helps, the minimum system requirements for Server 2003 itself are: 133MHz Processor, 128MB RAM, 3GB Hard Drive space, VGA.
    WHS just adds a few features onto the vanilla 2003.  However, I definitely recommend a system that is considerably above that.  :)
    What you specifically use for hardware will depend a lot on the intended role that you have for WHS, since IMHO there is some leeway in what you specifically want WHS to do for you.
    Because WHS is built on Server 2003, as long as the end-user hasn't purchased it in the smaller home appliance format (such as HP), then it is possible to use WHS beyond what its Microsoft market location is.

    As a file server only, the main requirements would be large hard drives, so an older and slower system is still possible.  But there will be a noticeable performance hit when the system migrates files around.

    Since Server 2003 is basically Windows XP (without the "candy" GUI, and with a few additional services), it can be used as a local logon system or a "power user" remote desktop.  I would discourage using it as a full general purpose desktop though, such as drafting (eg. AutoCAD), 3D design (eg. 3DS Max), photo editing (eg. PhotoShop), gaming (eg. Half Life, Counter-Strike), etc.  The OS is tailored to provide performance on background applications and file/network access.  I would also discourage using it for general Internet access since infecting a file server is a real no-no...

    Care also needs to be excercised when attempting to use Server 2003/WHS as a desktop since most consumer software is not tested for full compatibility on the server OS's.  The same can be said of most hardware.  Many consumer peripheral manufacturers do not develop and test their drivers on the server OS versions.  So it is possible and can be expected that certain software or hardware/drivers will mess up a WHS server when installed.

    Concerning using WHS locally while it is performing its own tasks, if you have other family members accessing the system for files while you are logged on, then yes, you will notice some performance loss unless you have high-end hardware.  However, if you are not making large changes to the file contents or backing up workstations, the amount of performance used by the server for its housekeeping overhead is minimal.  In other words, if you haven't transferred a lot of files or added another drive to the pool, WHS will essentially be doing nothing, so local logon is feasible.

    Regarding backup time, personally I do not perform full system backups, only data backup, so I do not have this feature running on my WHS.  The issue with full system backup is always "garbage in = garbage out".  For computer newbies and your average home it may be ok, but I would never use it as it is a waste of WHS drive space, performance, and time.

    As for whether a PIII will handle WHS, I have it running on a C2Duo 3GHz, 4GB RAM, 2x640GB SATA2, and you will notice a performance hit when WHS is migrating large amounts of files around.  However, for most people, once they have their main copy of all of their files transferred to the box, whether this be data files, company files, MP3's or videos, the amount of changes is significantly less.  Hence the amount of WHS time spent on migrating is less.

    As far as "suspending" server operations, other than the regularly scheduled workstation backup (if you are using it) this is really not an issue.  If you have not performed any massive file changes or transfers to the WHS box, or added any new storage hardware, it has no reason to perform any file migration/balancing etc.  I log on locally or RD into my WHS multiple times each day to perform various tasks directly on the box.  This has never been an issue unless I recently transferred a large amount of data files.

    Installing a 3D card and drivers is not a real issue, NVidia and ATI will have decent support for the Server 2003 OS.  And while you may see some of the hardcore/elitist WHS users balk at anyone doing this, in most cases it is something achievable.
    However, I would recommend asking yourself, why do you need to use WHS as a regular gaming desktop, or conversely why did you pay the extra money for the WHS OS if you are planning on mostly gaming on it?
    If all that you are looking for is another desktop for gaming and general purpose use, you are much better off running XP or Vista since they are supported better by the consumer software and hardware market.  And file sharing can already be done peer-to-peer between desktops, and pick up Norton Ghost or similar for system backup.
    Thinking that WHS can be bent into a standard desktop that also stores my files and does backups is IMHO trying to bend it too far.   Yes, it can do that, but it isn't the best choice.  And unless you are going to utilize the additional WHS features it is a waste of the extra money for the OS.  WHS is more suited as a file server, file sharer, and internet access box.  Extending it would be better suited in the directions of adding POP3-fetch, web mail, extra web sites such as blogging, etc.

    I am working on a web site specifically for the WHS power user that will show how to unleash the Server 2003 portion of WHS, without breaking WHS.
    I have over 25 years in the industry (software, hardware, system design, embedded hardware and software, OS's, etc.) and more than 10 years as an IT Pro for numerous corporations.
    Once I have a few more pages complete, I'll make the site public.  I'll be looking forward to Ken's comments on any of the site pages.  :)

    • Edited by MrDRGreen Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:28 PM typo
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:18 PM
  • You're really looking at two questions, only the first of which has a definite answer:

    Q1. Can you use Windows Home Server as a workstation?
    A1. Yes, of course you can.

    Q2: Should you use WHS as a workstation?
    A2: Everyone is likely to have a different opinion. Mine is a traditional IT opinion: No. Some of my reasons include:
    • Design. By design, it's not easy to do what you want.
    • Design again. There are elements of the WHS design which make use as a workstation more difficult than one might like (the limit on the size of the system partition, the requirement that all disks that WHS uses be left completely alone, etc).
    • Stabililty. The primary cause of system instability on any Windows-based computer is software installed by the end user. If you don't use it as a workstation, there's no need to install software. If you don't install software, you've got a much greater chance of long-term stability. Uptime is not a concept I like because it's mis-used so often, but it's really what we're talking about here.
    • Security. If you have files you want to secure, regular desktop access compromises that, and Windows Home Server doesn't care.
    • Safety. Windows Home Server, because of it's design, is unusually vulnerable to data corruption/loss through end-user manipulation. If you never log on to the server desktop, you will never have the opportunity to perform almost all those risky operations.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:19 PM
    Moderator
  • Mike_Va said:

    When I first tried to pose this some time ago, everybody pretty much just said "don't do that."  I do see why, but I'm looking to see what you really can do, and what the risks are.  And whether you could "turn some stuff off" to mitigate the risks.  If so, the old Dell just retires . . . 
     

    Hello Mike,

    I think it all depends on how much you value your data...
    Just ask yourself: in how much trouble will I find myself when the days comes that my server looses data and needs a complete re-install? (and it certainly will - but with a much higher probability when used for other tasks then running WHS)
     
    If you have a good server backup strategy in place as well as enough knowledge to get your server up and running after a crash, you could take the risk involved when using WHS as a desktop server. Personally I would choose not to use it for other tasks then it was designed for.
     
    You could
    • Try to install a trial version of WHS on the old Dell and see how it behaves. Based on that you can decide...
    • Install Virtual PC on WHS to run a virtual desktop on the AMD server.
    • Buy an additional machine.

    Theo.


    No home server like Home Server
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:31 PM
    Moderator
  •  
    Mike_Va said:

    Still leaves decisions, however.

    1.  Bag the workstation and run WHS on the beefier AMD box

    2.  Run XP on the AMD and WHS on the older Dell

    3.  Just install the desired programs, including even a game or two, on WHS

    a copy of Ubuntu on the Dell, for example, might get that done. 


    From a consulting point of view, it depends entirely on what roles you want the systems to do and what your task requirements are.
    If you are using WHS for what it is intended, as a centralized file share and backup, then you want it on fast and especially reliable hardware.  If you don't mind some "maintenance" and always create additional backups, then the older hardware may suffice.

    If you are looking for something that supports local logon for minimal use to run minimal applications, then WHS will probably work fine.  But if you are looking for something that will match XP's desktop flexibility you are probably looking in the wrong area.  The limited OS partition, the default settings for process support, the fact that WHS runs many housekeeping tasks, the more limited software and hardware support, will no doubt interfere with its "ease of use" in a desktop role.

    I assume that you know that you will have to install the latest DX End-User runtime onto WHS.  Home Server is supported btw.
    Most NVidia drivers are not natively supported on Server 2003 32-bit with the exception of the Quadro workstation cards, so you may have to run setup in XP emulation mode if they test OS version.
    Depending on the game that you are playing though, you may run into some other issues.

    To read between the lines, I would say that you are more likely to be happy with a desktop that has RAID1 and file sharing and is running XP.

    I had another look at Ubuntu before choosing WHS.  I made the right choice.  :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:20 PM
    Friday, September 5, 2008 4:17 AM

All replies

  • I'd go with the best box for the server, the teenagers WILL find out what they can do with it as a game server. You also want your most reliable equipment as the server.
    As far as the slide scanner goes how demanding is that process? Do you set it up and let it run on it's own or does somebody have to feed it? If it can run unattended let the antique do the job at it's own pace.
    PGordini
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:30 PM
  • Hi,
    If this is the only option, ( I would always go for the separate functions route), Then why not use the power system with your WHS software set up, then install your Vista/XP as a virtual machine?
    There are a few people who have set up a virtual machine, and I believe one of the many WHS support sites, has a walk-through on setting the system up.

    Colin

    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:43 PM
    Moderator
  • OK, thanks: 

    Couple of clarifications: 

    1.  No teens in my house.  That was meant to be a rhetorical question about what will get done with WHS whether it's in the plan at MS or not. 

    2.  The Dell is reliable, it's just slower.  The system and storage pool drives will be new.  So that's not so much of an issue. 

    Didn't know of the virtual machine option -- will take a look. 

    Question is, is the WHS box just wasting the power on the AMD system?  If the Dell would do, it's cheap to get it configured, and I'd just have another physical machine (the AMD) in the basement for the price of a few kw/hrs.  That seems to be what MS and the networking community says is the right answer. 

    The Dell retired from workstation service some time ago, so I won't likely go that way.  It'd work, but it retired because it was just getting too slow to run some things. 

    The slide scanner is a SCSI device that gets fed manually.  Not so terribly demanding -- but that was more just a stalking horse for "I want to do workstationlike things" on this machine.  Typing, spreadsheets, web browsing if I happen to be downstairs when the question arises, maybe even an occasional game (thus the Video driver experiments), etc.  If the Dell will run WHS, I can do all that with the AMD "power system" as a separate physical box.  But the plan had been to do both in one box. 

    Thanks much for the quick answers.  Looking forward to additional ideas. 

    Mike

     

     

    • Edited by Mike_Va Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:54 PM clarification
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:53 PM
  • I'm glad you found that announcement helpful. Microsoft is still working on the issue, but I'm sure they'll have it resolved by the end of the day, now that someone has actually complained about it. (I noticed just after the move, but fixed my bookmarks and moved on without giving it another thought...)

    Q1: I like the AMD solution better, because it's somewhat newer hardware. There are issues with old hardware beyond the obvious performance question. Old hardware may have been subject to numerous power fluctuations, old electrolytic capacitors may be failing, etc. Fans and hard disks have moving parts, therefore have limited lifespans, so how are the CPU fans on that PIII system? Performance-wise you would see some difference, but not as much as you might think.

    Q2: You'll probably have to install storage drivers to get the SCSI drives visible. This often involves the usual (for older generation installs) "F6 floppy".

    Q3: Not really. You can't install Windows Home Server in a dual boot configuration. You can install another operating system afterward, but it's a server; it needs to be up during the backup window (default midnight to 6:00 AM) and at other time to work as a server. As for doing nothing, umm, your WHS sits there all day long, enduring mind-numbing boredom, only to leap quivering to the ready when someone hits the Remote Access web site. (Sorry about that, I'm feeling much better now...)


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:18 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 5:56 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Ken: 

    Both for the announcement and for the thoughts. 

    I like the AMD solution better too, which is why WHS is there now.  But your colorful final thought is precisely why things like VMWare got invented, right?  That way, the server doesn't have to sit there being bored all day (at least, unlike your pets, it won't trash the couch when bored). 

    So in the end, that's still my question, I suppose.  Can I just sign on and web browse while it's bored?  Can I scan a couple of slides for later editing?  Move some data off of one of those old Jaz cartridges (egad!).  How about the old Falcon 4.0 game (1998, still in development with pirated source code, and will eat every cpu cycle you can give it (including on a second cpu -- not bad for the late 90's, eh?)).  How about lending those SETI@home guys some I'm bored cpu cycles?  See what i mean. 

    When I first tried to pose this some time ago, everybody pretty much just said "don't do that."  I do see why, but I'm looking to see what you really can do, and what the risks are.  And whether you could "turn some stuff off" to mitigate the risks.  If so, the old Dell just retires . . .

    Plainly you can't do run a cpu hogging app while load balancing and streaming movies at the same time.  The question is more about what WHS is capable of as a workstation, and how not to hurt it as a server when in workstation mode.  If that makes sense. 
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 6:17 PM
  • If it helps, the minimum system requirements for Server 2003 itself are: 133MHz Processor, 128MB RAM, 3GB Hard Drive space, VGA.
    WHS just adds a few features onto the vanilla 2003.  However, I definitely recommend a system that is considerably above that.  :)
    What you specifically use for hardware will depend a lot on the intended role that you have for WHS, since IMHO there is some leeway in what you specifically want WHS to do for you.
    Because WHS is built on Server 2003, as long as the end-user hasn't purchased it in the smaller home appliance format (such as HP), then it is possible to use WHS beyond what its Microsoft market location is.

    As a file server only, the main requirements would be large hard drives, so an older and slower system is still possible.  But there will be a noticeable performance hit when the system migrates files around.

    Since Server 2003 is basically Windows XP (without the "candy" GUI, and with a few additional services), it can be used as a local logon system or a "power user" remote desktop.  I would discourage using it as a full general purpose desktop though, such as drafting (eg. AutoCAD), 3D design (eg. 3DS Max), photo editing (eg. PhotoShop), gaming (eg. Half Life, Counter-Strike), etc.  The OS is tailored to provide performance on background applications and file/network access.  I would also discourage using it for general Internet access since infecting a file server is a real no-no...

    Care also needs to be excercised when attempting to use Server 2003/WHS as a desktop since most consumer software is not tested for full compatibility on the server OS's.  The same can be said of most hardware.  Many consumer peripheral manufacturers do not develop and test their drivers on the server OS versions.  So it is possible and can be expected that certain software or hardware/drivers will mess up a WHS server when installed.

    Concerning using WHS locally while it is performing its own tasks, if you have other family members accessing the system for files while you are logged on, then yes, you will notice some performance loss unless you have high-end hardware.  However, if you are not making large changes to the file contents or backing up workstations, the amount of performance used by the server for its housekeeping overhead is minimal.  In other words, if you haven't transferred a lot of files or added another drive to the pool, WHS will essentially be doing nothing, so local logon is feasible.

    Regarding backup time, personally I do not perform full system backups, only data backup, so I do not have this feature running on my WHS.  The issue with full system backup is always "garbage in = garbage out".  For computer newbies and your average home it may be ok, but I would never use it as it is a waste of WHS drive space, performance, and time.

    As for whether a PIII will handle WHS, I have it running on a C2Duo 3GHz, 4GB RAM, 2x640GB SATA2, and you will notice a performance hit when WHS is migrating large amounts of files around.  However, for most people, once they have their main copy of all of their files transferred to the box, whether this be data files, company files, MP3's or videos, the amount of changes is significantly less.  Hence the amount of WHS time spent on migrating is less.

    As far as "suspending" server operations, other than the regularly scheduled workstation backup (if you are using it) this is really not an issue.  If you have not performed any massive file changes or transfers to the WHS box, or added any new storage hardware, it has no reason to perform any file migration/balancing etc.  I log on locally or RD into my WHS multiple times each day to perform various tasks directly on the box.  This has never been an issue unless I recently transferred a large amount of data files.

    Installing a 3D card and drivers is not a real issue, NVidia and ATI will have decent support for the Server 2003 OS.  And while you may see some of the hardcore/elitist WHS users balk at anyone doing this, in most cases it is something achievable.
    However, I would recommend asking yourself, why do you need to use WHS as a regular gaming desktop, or conversely why did you pay the extra money for the WHS OS if you are planning on mostly gaming on it?
    If all that you are looking for is another desktop for gaming and general purpose use, you are much better off running XP or Vista since they are supported better by the consumer software and hardware market.  And file sharing can already be done peer-to-peer between desktops, and pick up Norton Ghost or similar for system backup.
    Thinking that WHS can be bent into a standard desktop that also stores my files and does backups is IMHO trying to bend it too far.   Yes, it can do that, but it isn't the best choice.  And unless you are going to utilize the additional WHS features it is a waste of the extra money for the OS.  WHS is more suited as a file server, file sharer, and internet access box.  Extending it would be better suited in the directions of adding POP3-fetch, web mail, extra web sites such as blogging, etc.

    I am working on a web site specifically for the WHS power user that will show how to unleash the Server 2003 portion of WHS, without breaking WHS.
    I have over 25 years in the industry (software, hardware, system design, embedded hardware and software, OS's, etc.) and more than 10 years as an IT Pro for numerous corporations.
    Once I have a few more pages complete, I'll make the site public.  I'll be looking forward to Ken's comments on any of the site pages.  :)

    • Edited by MrDRGreen Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:28 PM typo
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:18 PM
  • You're really looking at two questions, only the first of which has a definite answer:

    Q1. Can you use Windows Home Server as a workstation?
    A1. Yes, of course you can.

    Q2: Should you use WHS as a workstation?
    A2: Everyone is likely to have a different opinion. Mine is a traditional IT opinion: No. Some of my reasons include:
    • Design. By design, it's not easy to do what you want.
    • Design again. There are elements of the WHS design which make use as a workstation more difficult than one might like (the limit on the size of the system partition, the requirement that all disks that WHS uses be left completely alone, etc).
    • Stabililty. The primary cause of system instability on any Windows-based computer is software installed by the end user. If you don't use it as a workstation, there's no need to install software. If you don't install software, you've got a much greater chance of long-term stability. Uptime is not a concept I like because it's mis-used so often, but it's really what we're talking about here.
    • Security. If you have files you want to secure, regular desktop access compromises that, and Windows Home Server doesn't care.
    • Safety. Windows Home Server, because of it's design, is unusually vulnerable to data corruption/loss through end-user manipulation. If you never log on to the server desktop, you will never have the opportunity to perform almost all those risky operations.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:19 PM
    Moderator
  • Mike_Va said:

    When I first tried to pose this some time ago, everybody pretty much just said "don't do that."  I do see why, but I'm looking to see what you really can do, and what the risks are.  And whether you could "turn some stuff off" to mitigate the risks.  If so, the old Dell just retires . . . 
     

    Hello Mike,

    I think it all depends on how much you value your data...
    Just ask yourself: in how much trouble will I find myself when the days comes that my server looses data and needs a complete re-install? (and it certainly will - but with a much higher probability when used for other tasks then running WHS)
     
    If you have a good server backup strategy in place as well as enough knowledge to get your server up and running after a crash, you could take the risk involved when using WHS as a desktop server. Personally I would choose not to use it for other tasks then it was designed for.
     
    You could
    • Try to install a trial version of WHS on the old Dell and see how it behaves. Based on that you can decide...
    • Install Virtual PC on WHS to run a virtual desktop on the AMD server.
    • Buy an additional machine.

    Theo.


    No home server like Home Server
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:31 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi,
    Just to add to the dilema!
    Don't forget that by design, your system partition is limited to just 20GB. Now there are 'hacks' available to change that, but there is nothing to say that some update from Microsoft might not either then wreck your system, or re-set it back to 20GB. (unlikely, but possible).
    Quite a lot of software could well find it problematic, managing with the WHS disk system. The general answer is to install another disk, outside the pool, for your other operations. Once you start doing that, you are introducing a further cost which you are trying to get away from.

    Also, security. If your bank wrote to you and said that they were going to re-purpose some old workstations they had in storage, which were never designed for server operations - but they are cheap - and we are going to use them to store all your financial records on. Your reaction probably wouldn't be printable on a forum like this.
    I regard the data on my server, at least as valuable as my bank data, if not more so. Therefore, this server is going to have the minimum extraneous services, and certainly isn't going to have things like RDP being used on a regular basis.

    After saying all that, on one of my test servers,I have trialled a virtual machine which had XP installed. It worked just fine and didn't appear to have any effect on the WHS portion. However, as I'm no expert on virtualisation, my knowledge isn't enough for me to trust that type of system on my production server.

    I guess in the end, you have the option of trying it. If you have other copies of your important data, then you won't have lost anything,if there are any problems!

    Colin
    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:19 PM
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:47 PM
    Moderator
  • Wow, either I asked a better question, or I found the right group this time!  Thanks very much for the VERY useful answers. 

    I do get the points about that data security, which cuts both ways in this dilemma -- use WHS multi-purpose, and you may corrupt it.  Use the old Dell, and it may die.  Same old dilemma, which I'll resolve by backing up data on off-line USB drives. 

    System partition is not a problem.  Storage is cheap, and I've always planned to have a non-pool extra drive in the system. 

    The virtual machine comments seem interesting.  Do we have a link for that tutorial (I'll Google it too).  I understand only the most basic concept, and would like to look a bit more at that.  Assuming one could do that, does that effectively protect the server functions in some meaningful way?  Complete newb on this front, I'm afraid, but a local guru here suggested something similar, so it seems worth a look. 

    Sounds like what I may need to do is: 

    1.  Try installing the apps, including something that'll at least give the Vid Card a 3d workout.  Even if that's where I end up, the server will be a server 80-90% of the time, and will have pretty negligable traffic much of the time.  With data backed up, the occasional crash wouldn't be a disaster unless it corrupts DE files in some what that can't be fixed (part of the reason for my original questions). 

    2.  Try the virtual machine if I can figure that out (my server isn't in production mode yet, so I can afford to "break it" . . . as I've already done unsuccessfully trying various software firewalls all of which seem to BSD it for one reason or another . . . part of the learning curve, and I'm left with Defender for now, it seems), and then . . .

    3.  Install it on the Dell and see how that goes.  I don't anticipate huge amounts of file traffic, particularly in the early going, and since if I go that way the Dell will be doing server only duties, maybe that's the answer.  And by the time I'd consider using this for media duties (assuming I'd be willing to live with the DRM headaches, which is somewhat doubtful -- even though I do buy the stuff I watch or listen to), the AMD will be the old box, as I'll likely get the itch for something newer.  In the meantime, I won't be hitting it all that hard, so those Server '03 specs are encouraging. 

    If we're in the "finding out is part of the fun category," that's OK with me.  I just want to avoid doing something really dumb if it's already been done (as seems entirely likely). 

    Thanks again, and keep those thoughts coming.  I'll be slow to get to all this (just a matter of having time), but I will try to report back once I have some results. 

    Mike

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:15 PM
  • Does the slide scanner have special drivers that need to be loaded? They may not be compatible with the WHS OS which would force you to use a separate machine, either a virtual one or real hardware.
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:25 PM
  • Mike_Va said:

    The virtual machine comments seem interesting.  Do we have a link for that tutorial (I'll Google it too). 

    For starters you might want to check out Microsoft VPC 2007 (Desktop Version) and/or this link
    Installation and use rather straightforward and would give you an impression what it can do.

    For installing on a server you need the server version Virtual Server 2005 R2 (I think it installs on WHS? - never tried that)
    Theo.


    No home server like Home Server
    Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:35 PM
    Moderator
  • Would this be the virtual machine guide? 

    http://robertstinnett.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!DF97D8E39A1A4C74!555.entry?wa=wsignin1.0

    azjerry1: 

    Good point, and yes, it needs drivers, which may or may not work.  But again, I'm running around with lots of PCs here (too many for my own good), so no one item is critical.  Basically it appears that Robert Stinnett (see link) has asked the same question I'm posing and found his answer.  Not sure if mine will be the same, but I hadn't even considered this until now, so I'm already ahead of the game. 

    The driver/software issues are, well, an issue.  Because WHS is based on Server '03, a fair number of drivers, firewalls, virus checkers and such made for XP refuse to install (NOD32) or appear to break it (ZoneAlarm XP, Asus Firewall shipped with motherboards).  That, plus Microsoft's apparent failure to push for WHS versions of this stuff (or so I'm assuming based on the touted "appliance" marketing model), leaves one with limited, expensive choices in some categories.  The Server '03 stuff is out there in some cases, and it'd likely work, but such solutions are made for pros and assumed to be more expensive, leaving us amateur hackers in what we used to call the "prosumer" category when I had a summer job in a camera store many years ago.  That meant you were really interested in taking good pics and understood the benefits in the really good stuff, leaving you to get hammered on pricing.  Prosumer was usually spelled S.T.U.P.I.D. 

    The situation seems to be getting somewhat better (Avast AV trial looks pretty good, can't find a better firewall yet, and there appear to now be some DE-aware defraggers), but they'd probably get better faster if Redmond aimed a bit higher and pushed a bit harder.  On the other hand, if you look at the questions I'm asking, and how much I'm screwing things up on the way to getting to a right answer, you can understand why they'd go "appliance" or "you're on your own" for starters.  What I'd like to see is some "house license" products in this category, with a server piece and, say, 3-5-10 workstation options.  And maybe that'll happen, though I'm not seeing it yet. 

    Anyway, don't want to derail my own thread, and I'm still looking experimenting on those fronts, so I'm content to leave it there for now. 

    Mike

    Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:47 PM
  • OK.  Home from work with a bit more time to look around.  Stinett's link above has a commenter who has a link to a step by step install guide -- if only I spoke Norwegian.  Gotta love that. 

    Still, just looking at the screen captures, this looks like it might be a good answer.  Which, of course, leads to a few more questions: 

    0.  The VS install looks simple as can be.  Wasn't quite sure at the end of those screens how to install my spare XP license within that environment -- will that be obvious when I get there? 

    1.  2 gigs of RAM is the generally effective limit for 32bit XP.  True of WHS too??  And if so, does each virtual machine get it's own memory pool, or do they share (i.e., if this works, should I add another 2 Gigs of memory so that WHS and virtualized XP are both breathing easy or are we good to go as long as both systems are being hit hard on memory simultaneously)? 

    2.  I touched on this above, but I take it that the idea here is that this method protects the WHS system by virtualizing much of what might hurt it.  Right?  And the performance hit is at least not devestating?

    3.  Drivers.  It seems too much to ask, but can you install a driver in the virtual XP space -- say for that slide scanner?  Or, in another example, if I want to run something that requires 3D Vid card features, do I turn those OFF in WHS and on in the XP space? 

    I get the impression that the answer to #3 is no, you gotta have a WHS-friendly driver, but wasn't sure. 

    This almost sounds too good to be true, but I LIKE it. 

    Thanks again to all for the help so far.  I'm on the steep, steep part of the learning curve here -- just the way it should be. 

    Mike
    Friday, September 5, 2008 12:48 AM
  • Colin -> and certainly isn't going to have things like RDP being used on a regular basis.

    I've noticed some disdain towards RD with the WHS users, why is this?
    I use it all of the time in my IT work, and I use RD to access my WHS over the LAN much of the time.  It saves me having to go over to it and flip on the monitor.
    Or are you referring to exposing WHS's RDP over the Internet?  Which is something I wouldn't do.

    Colin -> on one of my test servers,I have trialled a virtual machine which had XP installed.

    If a person has a sufficiently powerful WHS system (dual core, 4GB RAM, etc.) and Microsoft VirtualPC (or VirtualServer), then it should work just fine for running a few XP applications.  However, with regards to the OP's question, I wouldn't try running MS VPC on WHS to run Unreal Tournament 3 or anything like that.  :)
    I guarantee you won't be happy with the performance.  And VS has restricted emulation so it won't run a lot of desktop software.
    IMHO VPC's are more useful in situations of developing multi-platform software, or to keep dated vertical-market software functional on newer systems (eg. an old legacy DOS application).  VS's are more useful in situations of installing large corporate virtualizations.


    Mike -> System partition is not a problem.

    Actually it can be a problem.  Depending on the software you are installing, most developers (incorrectly or unnecessarily) dump all of their DLLs etc. into the %SYSTEMROOT%/System32 folder.  This can eat up the 20GB rapidly.  Most uninstallers also don't clean this up.
    Other than extending WHS with a few "server related" applications (eg. SQL, POP3/SMTP, etc.), I personally don't recommend it.

    Mike -> The virtual machine comments seem interesting.

    IMHO fun to play with, but not very practical for your average person's needs.  :)
    Don't fall under the incorrect assumption that it will let you turn Server 2003 into XP Pro and let you run anything as if you had XP Pro installed on new high-end hardware.  You will find that a lot of software won't run or won't run well.
    You also must have the license for the guest OS, so if you have to go purchase XP Pro, you may as well install it onto other more suitable hardware.


    azjerry1 -> ... have special drivers ...? They may not be compatible with the WHS OS which would force you to use ... a virtual ...

    A VM like VPC or VS is a software virtualizer.  Depending on the VM, specific hardware subsystems will not be supported.  And if the underlying hardware layer also doesn't support something specific, the VM is not going to magically add it in (eg. a scenario of a system with no sound card).


    Mike -> re: Robert Stinnett's VM page

    Sorry, unless I missed something obvious, to me this seems like the completely wrong way to go about doing what he is doing...  :)
    It's like saying "I'm going to buy WHS for $170, install MS VirtualServer (free btw), then go and pay $2000 for SBS 2008 and run that as the guest OS in the VM, so that I can run a blog website on the SBS IIS"...
    The first issue is the guest OS price (it has to be licensed)...  then, WHS already has IIS...  plus, you can already use it for multiple sites...  and, you can get .asp-based bloggers just about anywhere...
    Using VPC/VS in this method is simply just eating up a lot of extra OS partition space and CPU cycles and piles of extra cash with no benefit at all.
    Best to check the VM whitepapers and FAQs as well before jumping the gun, it doesn't support/emulate sound cards, USB devices other than kbd/mouse input, and there is lots of other limitations.

    I could agree with RS's page if he was doing something such as setting up a single powerful server box to run host and guest copies of Server 2008 for virtualization in a corporation, such as a massive Exchange Server and a massive SQL Server, but in this case I don't get it...  did I really miss something?

    Mike -> The driver/software issues are, well, an issue. (plus a bunch of stuff re: firewalls, AV, defraggers, etc.)

    WHS is not marketted as a "Home Server 2003", neither does it have SBS 2008's price tag, nor do the majority of users require the same compliment of addons and third-party software.
    To address a few of your points with my personal opinion (for what it is worth)...  :-)
    - Server OS's have always had less consumer driver and software support than desktop OS's.  This is not going to change with WHS.  WHS is not a replacement for XP/Vista nor is it a "combined" XP+Server2003.  Server's don't need to run high-end 3D games, etc.
    - AV software shouldn't be running on WHS.  Low-security surfing should not be performed on a network file server.  Attempting to provide "blanket" AV for all of the other PCs on the LAN cannot be correctly performed with WHS.  You would have to resort to using the proper product such as Symantec Endpoint or Microsoft ForeFront.  AV on the desktops is the better way to go.  In my personal home network, I have one system that I allow Internet surfing on, and it has AV software on it.
    - General PC Firewalls shouldn't be on WHS because you shouldn't be using it for general surfing from a local logon (or RD etc.).
    - The issue with Defragging WHS as a whole is that in a large percentage of the install-base, there is not a standard platform for drive installation like you see in desktops or servers.  WHS supports a plethora of external drive systems.  This makes Defrag more of a chore and in many cases unrealistic or unnecessary.  I've seen some posts on the forums where people have half-a-dozen 40GB external drives plugged in... defrag is the least of their worries.
    - Local logon onto server OS systems should be restricted to system setup, configuration, maintenance, upgrade, etc.  I can see the possibility of using WHS for additional tasks such as SQL, SMTP/POP3, web sites, even perhaps a rendering farm for 3DS Max, or additional black-box processing for home hobbyist professors who wish to run various modelling/analysis or folding.  Beyond that, WHS's use as a "gaming and photoshopping" rig is just going to lead into frustration and many other issues.  :)

    Friday, September 5, 2008 1:05 AM
  • Mike_Va said:

    0.  The VS install looks simple as can be.

    1.  2 gigs of RAM is the generally effective limit for 32bit XP.

    2.  I touched on this above, but I take it that the idea here is that this method protects the WHS system by virtualizing much of what might hurt it.  Right?  And the performance hit is at least not devestating?

    3.  Drivers.  It seems too much to ask, but can you install a driver in the virtual XP space -- say for that slide scanner?  Or, in another example, if I want to run something that requires 3D Vid card features, do I turn those OFF in WHS and on in the XP space? 


    0. See the FAQ link I posted previously.  VS does not support a whack of stuff that you are most likely hoping for in your "complete XP gaming rig" over WHS.

    1. Not really, but let's not split hairs.  :)
    Technically each process has 2GB User and 2GB Kernel (shared), unless it has been compiled with /LARGEADDRESSAWARE.
    So the common misconception of "you can't use more than 2GB RAM" is incorrect.
    In the case of running a VM/VS, you will want as much physical RAM for the host as possible, the limit will be whatever the OS and underlying hardware supports (ie. not all older mobos support up to 4GB for 32-bit Windows OS's).
    And don't get me started on the /3GB switch, I tend to start ranting...  ;)

    2. Not true on both.  The only "safety factor" is that you will crash the VM.  There is no guarantee that you won't mess up the host since you are attempting to deploy all of this for a use in which it was not intended.  Plus depending on what you are virtualizing, the performance hit may be significant.

    3. Check the VS FAQ.  A lot of stuff is not supported.  Virtual Server is a "Server", so it doesn't need or support a lot of the common desktop requirements.
    Friday, September 5, 2008 1:30 AM
  • MrDRGreen: 

    So you're saying the Virtual Server proposal IS too good to be true.  OK.  Since I'm not going to buy ANOTHER new (or old) box, do you end up saying that I should try the Dell since the server doesn't need all that much cpu? 

    That could make sense as an alternative, which would give me PIII 800 x 2; 1 Gig; Sata Drives via a PCI Card (might even spring for a backplane), and plenty of drive space.  If I back it up to provide for protection for HWare failure, and if it has all night and every weekday to loadbalance and back up to it's heart's content, is that the better answer? 

    Sorry if I'm not getting all this the first time.  But that seems to be where this point if I want to have a basement workstation.  Or, if I'm following you, I should just give that up and put the server on the AMD box, right? 
    Friday, September 5, 2008 1:30 AM
  • Well, for free VPC/VS is a great piece of software and the free price tag is really nice (A lot of people bash MS but I love the fact that they provide so much great stuff for free).

    But I think you might be under the assumption that it allows for 100% complete virtualization of the guest OS, which is not true (more or less depending on the specific guest OS, eg. running Server2008 over Server2008 would be fine).

    If you check out the VS FAQ, you will see that there are limits on hosts, host hardware, supported virtual devices (eg. no support for USB Card Readers, Scanners, Sound cards, etc.).  It is after all, a virtualizer for "servers".
    Think of VS as a means to run two copies of Server 2008 on a single box (a host and guest OS) so that you can dedicate each OS to a specific corporate need, such as the previous Exchange Server and SQL Server example I mentioned.

    VPC has a bit better support for regular "desktop" style setups, but you will still find some issues when attempting to get everything you want on top of WHS.

    The bottom line is, if you need XP you are better off with XP.
    As I had mentioned previously, you can bend WHS into doing more than what MS has it marketted for out-of-the-box, but there are limits to how far it can feasibly or easily go before you start to get outside of the "intended use" box and into the realm of "there are better and easier ways to do this", and you always need to ask yourself if that is the best method.

    Friday, September 5, 2008 1:51 AM
  • Yep.  I think I get that much.  Still leaves decisions, however.  If VS isn't going to work, and that's essentially what I take you to be saying -- for what seem good and sufficient reasons -- I'm back to the original three options: 

    1.  Bag the workstation and just run WHS on the beefier AMD box (safe, but boring and deprives me of a workstation downstairs for even relatively light work);

    2.  Run the spare XP lisc (I do have one) on the AMD, and WHS on the older Dell -- which is where your comments (and those of several others less inclined to "bend" the WHS limits than you are) seem to take us at the cost of:  

    a. an indeterminate amount of WHS performance, and
     
    b.  some risk of hardware failure (you know, the "not if, but when thing") mitigated by an occasional backup of WHS and data duplication on the household workstations;

    or

    3.  Just install the desired programs, including even a game or two, on WHS -- on a separate non-pool drive.  See what happens, and back off until we reach stability and don't start relying on the server until you get there.  Browsing would still be a problem, but one could probably deal with that -- a copy of Ubuntu on the Dell, for example, might get that done. 

    I'm trying to be flexible, and I'm learning a lot, but the which way to go question is still there, yes?  So if I make it hard and have to pick 2 or 3, which makes more sense??

    Thanks again for all the info -- I had NO IDEA I'd get this much info when I started the thread.  Appreciate everyone's thoughts very much. 

    Mike

    • Edited by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 2:34 AM edit
    Friday, September 5, 2008 2:12 AM
  • MrDRGreen said:

    Colin -> and certainly isn't going to have things like RDP being used on a regular basis.

    I've noticed some disdain towards RD with the WHS users, why is this?
    I use it all of the time in my IT work, and I use RD to access my WHS over the LAN much of the time.  It saves me having to go over to it and flip on the monitor.


    There's no disdain. Remote Desktop is, per Microsoft, not a supported access method. (This doesn't mean that it doesn't work.) The only supported way of accessing or configuring your home server is through the shares, through the Remote Access web site, and through the console.

    Available through a Remote Desktop connection (or a physical connection) are a number of tools which Microsoft very strongly discourages you from using. These tools include Disk Management, the built-in disk defragmenting tool, NTBackup, and regedit. All of these tools except for NTBackup (which doesn't understand tombstones, and therefore just doesn't work) can damage the functionality of Windows Home Server. Some apparently harmless operations have the potential to cause significant data loss.

    So, the recommendation is to use Remote Desktop as little as possible, preferably not at all. (I haven't logged in to my production WHS system since I installed PP1, for example.) If you are developing an add-in for WHS, or you are curious, fearless, and willing to take the risk of data loss, then poking around in Remote Desktop may be something worth doing. If you're trying to use your server as a desktop, even occasionally, then you should rethink your use.

    Regarding your later comment about AV, I recommend AV on every computer in a household. While it's true that the most common attack vectors aren't an issue if one doesn't use WHS for anything except built-in functions, it's not possible to completely protect your network from worms and malware brought in from outside. And there is at least one AV product that provides a significant value add on WHS: avast! It includes the ability to manage avast! on all home PCs joined to your server, including triggering updates and virus scans, and checking history logs.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 5, 2008 2:34 AM
    Moderator
  • Mike, you really have to make your own decision; it's not fair to yourself to let forum participants make that choice for you. You can take everyone's information and use it to make an informed decision, of course. I'll note this, though: You keep coming back to "a workstation downstairs." 1. Do you need one or want one (i.e is it a requirement or a "nice to have")? 2. If a requirement, what capabilities does it need? For example, does it have to be a gaming machine? If so, you need new hardware anyway. Your AMD machine is too far from the current state of the art; you aren't going to be able to upgrade it enough to matter.

    You've also been thrown a lot of red herrings. Virtualization technology is not someplace you're likely to want to go, for example; there are too many limitations, caveats, and requirements that the home network "admin" really doesn't want to have to deal with. You should focus on your core needs; if you can articulate them clearly, usually a solution will present itself.

    Finally, I will say that I honestly believe that you will be disappointed with WHS if you choose to use it as a workstation, even part time. You will feel that you wasted your money, hardware, and time. And I would prefer not to see that happen.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 5, 2008 3:14 AM
    Moderator
  •  
    Mike_Va said:

    Still leaves decisions, however.

    1.  Bag the workstation and run WHS on the beefier AMD box

    2.  Run XP on the AMD and WHS on the older Dell

    3.  Just install the desired programs, including even a game or two, on WHS

    a copy of Ubuntu on the Dell, for example, might get that done. 


    From a consulting point of view, it depends entirely on what roles you want the systems to do and what your task requirements are.
    If you are using WHS for what it is intended, as a centralized file share and backup, then you want it on fast and especially reliable hardware.  If you don't mind some "maintenance" and always create additional backups, then the older hardware may suffice.

    If you are looking for something that supports local logon for minimal use to run minimal applications, then WHS will probably work fine.  But if you are looking for something that will match XP's desktop flexibility you are probably looking in the wrong area.  The limited OS partition, the default settings for process support, the fact that WHS runs many housekeeping tasks, the more limited software and hardware support, will no doubt interfere with its "ease of use" in a desktop role.

    I assume that you know that you will have to install the latest DX End-User runtime onto WHS.  Home Server is supported btw.
    Most NVidia drivers are not natively supported on Server 2003 32-bit with the exception of the Quadro workstation cards, so you may have to run setup in XP emulation mode if they test OS version.
    Depending on the game that you are playing though, you may run into some other issues.

    To read between the lines, I would say that you are more likely to be happy with a desktop that has RAID1 and file sharing and is running XP.

    I had another look at Ubuntu before choosing WHS.  I made the right choice.  :)
    • Marked as answer by Mike_Va Friday, September 5, 2008 6:20 PM
    Friday, September 5, 2008 4:17 AM
  • Thanks to all:  I think that about airs it out for now.  Bottom line is that the experiments will continue, I think, for a time.  I understand of course that it's my decision, but this has all been very helpful -- even what Ken dubbed the Red Herring suggestions about VS options.  To answer a couple of his questions: 

    1.  None of this is anything I need in any real sense.  I have desktop computers at home and work that do everything I need to do, and can back up on the external USB drives.  There is no "mission critical" in my home.  Further, since I'm not entirely comfortable that the DE technology is absolutely bulletproof yet, and because hardware always fails, I'm not going to stop periodically backing things up and maintaining redundant data whenever I can -- doing so has saved me too often. 

    2.  I'm going to try the little list of experiments outlined above, and will see how it goes.  My guess is based on the discussion here that WHS will end up on the Dell -- as MrDRG points out: 

    " the minimum system requirements for Server 2003 itself are: 133MHz Processor, 128MB RAM, 3GB Hard Drive space, VGA. WHS just adds a few features onto the vanilla 2003.  However, I definitely recommend a system that is considerably above that.  :)" 

    Even the Dell would blow that minimum right into the weeds, so it's all relative I suppose.  And I'm not expecting to be thrashing the server by any means in it's classic server role. 

    3.  I had started with a misguided version of the  understanding of WHS MrDR describes: 

    "Since Server 2003 is basically Windows XP (without the "candy" GUI, and with a few additional services), it can be used as a local logon system or a "power user" remote desktop.  I would discourage using it as a full general purpose desktop though, such as drafting (eg. AutoCAD), 3D design (eg. 3DS Max), photo editing (eg. PhotoShop), gaming (eg. Half Life, Counter-Strike), etc.  The OS is tailored to provide performance on background applications and file/network access.  I would also discourage using it for general Internet access since infecting a file server is a real no-no..." 

    If WHS runs acceptably on the Dell, I have another workstation to play with, without pressing that understanding too hard (much as one is tempted to see how hard one can press sometimes . . .), and I have the best of both worlds with hardware I already own.  If not, I'll likely limit or give up the "basement workstation" idea. 

    All that said, there are a few things about the conversation, helpful as it has been, that are discomforting:  

    First, this is an expensive OS by home use standards (at least in the pre-Vista world), alleged to be built on one of the most bulletproof kernels in the MS inventory.  But running Word on it is scary and dangerous, and you can't use the defragger that ships on the CD???  I'm into the hobby, so I'm comfortable with that sort of thing, and the thread has helped a lot with the one thing I do NEED, which is to learn.  But in the hands of Grandma (or a helpful grandson/daughter), it sounds like you could seriously hurt yourself.  How is it that we can have a seriously robust server OS (and I'm delighted that MS has made it available, so don't get me wrong here) that can be utterly demolished by a well meaning teen who unwittingly defrags grandma's drives, thereby wiping on all the digital photos??  This, on top of the early DE problems, doesn't add up to awe-inspiring confidence.  The good news is that the market profile of this thing is still so low that there's probably time to fix such things before "Vista negativity" sets in.  If folks even agree that they need fixing. 

    Second, while I can't say that I agree entirely with the WHS developer's blog when they suggest that redunant RAID flavors are terrible for home use (and no, I'm not running striped raid, but Netcell RAID 3 setups), I like what they've done with both the DE idea and the backup solution.  DE, in particular, does seem more appropriate than RAID for this sort of use, and looks to be marveleously space-efficient.  And I'll even grant that a lot of RAID setups drop drives and can be a pain.  But are DE and backup going to be enough to build a market -- by themselves?  That's were I'm struggling a bit.  Media serving might, but DRM is DOA in my house and I don't think I'm alone, so I'm not sure that'll save us (another topic entirely, but just for the record, I'm 52 and I still BUY CDs, OK?).  Remote access?  Is that safe if web browsing isn't?  And is that really unique to WHS?  (still more to study there, I'll admit). 

    Third, if WHS really XP with some extra services and a bunch of reconfiguration to give server tasks priority, one might ponder whether as least some of what I originally had in mind was really so absurd in the home context (yeah, that's my theme here, and I'm stickin' to it to some extent).  Yes, the DE stuff must be safe, and left alone to do it's thing.  But given that even my 1998 vintage machine is multiples of the Server '03 min spec, I have to say that I'd find the product more appealing if we reconsidered some of those configuration decisions and let the hardware deal with the performance issues.  This may change as I learn more, I'll admit, and I may find other ways to extend WHS in more constructive directions as some suggest.  But what I see here is a culture clash between the traditional views of what a server does and how it should be handled -- along with fear that DE is new and therefore fragile, on the one hand, and the typical hobbiest/home user's expectations, on the other.  And I'm suggesting that there might be an opportunity there to go interesting places with WHS. 

    Still, WHS remains one of the most interesting products MS has produced in years, and I'm going to find a "right" way to make use of it.  So, with these final (and probably misguided) thoughts, thanks again and I'll report back.  Only problem now is that I can't find that "thanks my question has been answered button" in the interface.  Maybe awaiting final forum configuration, or did I miss it?  I really appreciate all the help. 

    Regards,
    Mike

    Friday, September 5, 2008 3:14 PM
  • Mike, the thing I think you (and many others) miss about Windows Home Server is that it isn't a general purpose server operating system for the home. It has extensions and customizations that argue strongly against desktop use for a number of very good reasons. It does novel things "under the covers" with file systems and file storage, it has a fairly large number of dependencies on various standard Windows Server 2003 components being configured in a very specific way, and there are tools available in Windows Server 2003 which can cause severe damage to WHS. None of those tools and dependencies are exposed through the Windows Home Server Console, which is the only supported administrative interface to your server, so use of those tools, or changing of those dependencies, is at your own (possibly considerable) risk. Microsoft would probably say (and I agree with them) that since direct desktop access to your server isn't a supported way to access your server, nothing you do there is a supported operation. You accept the risks and consequences (which it may not be possible to clearly state in advance) by proceeding.

    MrDRGreen is incorrect in his statement that Windows Server 2003 is a rebadged XP kernel. There are similarities (witness the ability to use the same drivers in many cases) but it was never really true, and is much less so with the release (years ago) of Windows Server 2003 R2.

    Answered questions: go looking through the thread. Every post should have a button "Mark as Answer". In other words, you don't mark the question as answered, you mark an individual post as an answer. You can mark one, or many, posts, including one of your own if you want.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 5, 2008 4:07 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Ken: 

    I am beginning to realize that, with the kind help of a number of folks here. 

    Those last points were not about what WHS is, but about what it perhaps should strive to be.  Or to put it another way, how what it actually is right now might be recieved in the broader market I take it to be aimed at (the "appliance" thing only goes so far, and the aggressive folks have to experiment with it and like it before the word gets out, eh?).  Imagine the firestorm if XP had been released with a defragger onboard that would eat data.  And this is arguably worse, because, as you guys have been quick to point out, egad!, this is a server!!

    So I'm not disagreeing with the folks like yourself who plainly know lots more than I about the system -- that's why I was asking up front.  I'm saying that if MS could make it more versatile, and less fragile, or if we at least precluded the REALLY dangerous stuff, it's likely to get more of a head of steam going.  It is criticism, I suppose, but I mean it in the most constructive way, because I really like the concept the team has in mind with the "home server," even if it turns out that I got something a bit different than what I'd thought I was getting (remember, I'm the one who set the RAID 3 thing up on XP with a home server in mind just before I heard about Home Server -- and the array is living very happily in my desktop now -- so I'm willing to be flexible). 

    I rather like the experimenting and the esoteric stuff it produces, so I'm fine.  But I'm probably a pretty limited market (of the determined, but clueless). 

    I appreciate the insights, and I will report back on what I break and what I don't.  So far, the good news is that the system has broken gracefully.  It seems to blue screen rather readily, but so far in a repeatable, consistent way, which makes it easy to see where you've fouled things up.  And, in fairness, I can forgive that behavior when we're talking virus checkers and firewalls that tend to reach deep by design.  If it blue screens running Word, I may be a tad less sympathetic -- but, as they say, I have been warned. 

    Thanks again for all the help (not that I mean to cut off the discussion if folks want to continue, mind you -- I'd gladly morph into a "what WHS might ideally be like" discussion, and would welcome those whose vision differs from my original expectation -- though I suspect there are other threads for that). 

    Browser isn't showing the "answered" option.  Not sure what's up. 

    Cheers,
    Mike
    Friday, September 5, 2008 6:17 PM
  • OK, found the "answer button."  Thanks. 
    Friday, September 5, 2008 6:21 PM
  • Ok, I'll get to the humerous part about how all you guys "need to get out more" later, but here's the initial report. When we were talking last week, I already had 78xx series NVidia XP drivers in and 3D acceleration on, so I knew that worked. But hold on to your hats for this next part:

    1. DirectX 9 Runtime -- installed without apparent incident;

    2. Saitek Joystick Driver and Programming Software installed without apparent incident; Calibration routine completed, programming not yet tried (but drivers include various "magic" keyboard and mouse drivers, so one might have expected problems there).

    3. AC97 Sound Drivers and quasi-apps (and that's kind) installed without apparent incident.

    4. WHS based AMD machine passed all basic DxDiag video and Audio Tests, including step-at-a-time move up to fully accelerated audio.

    5. Left it there overnight. Backup completed, load balanced apparently without incident.

    6. Falcon 4.0 Game installed and tested. Apparently without incident! Haven't started a campaign and worked the PC really hard yet, but 3D graphics @ the DX7 level plainly work. Haven't checked processor affinity for application yet or any of that fancy stuff, and haven't looked at the fps performance. But it "felt" fine -- no hiccups or pauses.

    7. Left that overnight. Backup failed. BUT, I'd left a couple of USB drives attached, and noticed that they'd gone to sleep. Woke them this AM, and started a manual backup. By the time I returned from a workout (<1.5 hours), manual (and "incremental") backup completed successfully, and load balanced.

    Based on our conversations, I'm waiting for the server to shut down and the house to blow up, what with all this misbehavior in a single weekend. Heck, I even cut the grass, ran a 5k and touched up some nicked paint on the car for good measure. At this point, I figure the thing should run Word and Excel without breaking a sweat.

    Next up is the slide scanner driver -- if that succeeds and the Office apps work, I'm pretty much calling it a day on frowned-upon extensions. I will then load some stuff in shares, make sure folder duplication is working, etc.

    FUD hasn't quite given way to jubilation as yet, because we all know you have to wait for the other shoe to drop, eh? But I will note that the only time I've hit the EJECT button so far is when that pesky Mig29 took offense to my picking off bombers whilst testing the 3D Graphics subsystems.

    So my NEW questions are:

    1. What should I test/check to be sure I haven't broken anything important, and how do I do it?

    and (assuming my ad hoc diagnosis is correct)

    2. What's up with backup failing just because some USB drive (which I'd previously excluded from backup) went to sleep? (Not necessarily blaming Windows mind you -- these external USB drives seem a tad picky sometimes -- still, shouldn't the system just ignore the issue and back up as instructed)?

    Will try experiments on item 2 as we go along and report on that too. If this all works in the end, I'd still be interested to know whether backup and load balancing and similar chores can be suspended temporarily -- just to avoid pushing my luck even further.

    So consider that my first postcard from the bleeding edge of blasphemy.

    Cheers,

    Mike

    • Edited by Mike_Va Monday, September 8, 2008 7:06 PM edit
    Monday, September 8, 2008 6:48 PM
  • Ken -> Remote Desktop is ... not a supported access method
    Ken -> ... the recommendation is to use Remote Desktop ... preferably not at all

    Perhaps my use of "disdain" was excessive.  :)
    I can understand MS not "supporting" its use for the average WHS home user.  I was just wondering if I was missing something that I was unaware of in WHS that using RD was a possible cause for issues just by intrinsic use.

    Ken -> It includes the ability to manage avast! on all home PCs joined to your server

    I wasn't aware of this feature.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Mike_Va -> None of this is anything I need in any real sense.

    I get the feeling that more than anything you want to putter around with WHS and see what you can get it to do.  :)
    So long as you are not relying on it for secure data storage and are aware that if it dies a nasty death you will have to reinstall, then I personally don't see anything wrong with messing around to your heart's content.

    Mike_Va -> Even the Dell would blow that minimum right into the weeds

    I'm running WHS on a C2D 2.6GHz, 4GB RAM, two 640GB WD drives, etc.  Performance is very nice.  Many of the SBS and 2003 servers for my clients are actually similar or below this in spec.

    Mike_Va -> this is an expensive OS by home use standards

    I don't agree.  At around $150 OEM that places it about $20 more than XP Pro OEM.  Compared to other servers, even Linux home servers, WHS is actually a good deal.

    Mike_Va -> But running Word on it is scary and dangerous, and you can't use the defragger that ships on the CD??? 

    WHS is not a desktop OS like XP or Vista, it is a Server OS.  Attempting to think that it is exactly the same and can do the same tasks is not correct.  Otherwise corporations would have no need for SBS or Server2008, etc., just run a less-expensive copy of XP...  There is a significant difference on how the OS's are designed for use.  While Server 2003 can be "hacked" into running like a desktop, it would just be easier in the long run simply to purchase XP Pro, which out-of-the-box is guaranteed to give better desktop performance and support a much wider range of hardware and software.

    And regarding what you can and can't, or should and shouldn't, run on WHS...  XP Pro includes RegEdit on the CD, but if I use it without knowing what I'm doing, it's a fast way to a system that no longer boots.  Server OS's will be tested to run successfully with other server-role hardware and software.  So SQL servers, email servers, etc. will be tested with server-role OS's.  Word processors, games, paint software, etc. will be tested with workstation/desktop-role OS's.  Like many things in life, we need to ask ourselves not "can" we do this, but "should" we do this.

    Mike_Va -> when they suggest that redunant RAID flavors are terrible for home use

    I actually agree with the blogger.  While RAID is within the technological grasp of the home computer enthusiast, the mom and pop or granny computer user who only knows how to surf and email, will be totally lost with hardware RAID.  I also believe that since DE already provides file duplication when two or more drives are present, that the extra expense for essentially no gain of RAID is not worth it for the market that WHS is aimed for.  You are also essentially nullifying any advantage to RAID itself, when looking at it from a Server and performance viewpoint.  On a high-performance SBS2003 file server setup I can fully understand using RAID (many of my corporate clients have RAID1 on their SBS2003 file servers).  A valid WHS scenario on this would be: home enthusiast believes RAID is cool, asks computer store to configure a server system for him with RAID1-under-WHS... since DE is a software system, where is the throughput gain of having underlying RAID?  And hardware duplication of files that are already software duplicated for simple mom 'n' pop home use is just throwing away money for extra technology that will not be realized.  It's like installing an HD4870 X2 or GTX 280 OC2 into a granny system where she only surfs and googles and sends emails...

    For the home enthusiast, you may wish to see how you can push WHS out of its market and more into what Server2003 is, which is fine for the home enthusiast, but it is not what the OS is intended or marketted for, so we can't say MS is trying to tie our hands here.

    Ken -> MrDRGreen is incorrect in his statement that Windows Server 2003 is a rebadged XP kernel.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that is what I stated, if that is what you took away from my comment, then it is apparent that I didn't make myself clear enough.  :)
    I simply stated that it is "basically Windows XP", but I never meant that in the context of Server 2003 just being XP repackaged.  In relation to the previous questions posted by the OP this was simply to define a playing field regarding platform family, driver support style, etc., to his questions on peripherals, drivers, DirectX, games, etc., that may be found to be functional on WHS.
    Concerning OS technology and core codebase, Server 2003 is essentially the same family as XP as Server 2008 is essentially the same family as Vista.
    Just clarifying myself, no harm, no foul.

    Mike_Va -> So consider that my first postcard from the bleeding edge of blasphemy.

    I'm not surprised at all that it works and runs with what you installed onto it.
    But I guarantee that you will find that simply installing XP Pro over your RAID3 system will do a much better job at a gaming/scanning system than WHS will.  Not only is XP Pro less expensive, but it already has a few of the core systems installed out-of-the-box such as DirectX, it is optimized for the desktop and media role, has a wider driver base for tested and supported peripherals, etc.
    Utilizing more of the Server 2003 capabilities in WHS seems the more logical and natural "hacker" choice to me than attempting to force a server OS into a workstation role.  Sure, you can race a 1/2-ton pickup at Indy, but they have cars that were designed better for that purpose.  They will both get you to the finish-line, but which one is the better choice for the intended role.
    • Edited by MrDRGreen Monday, September 8, 2008 11:44 PM typo
    Monday, September 8, 2008 11:38 PM
  •  

    "Mike_Va -> None of this is anything I need in any real sense.

    I get the feeling that more than anything you want to putter around with WHS and see what you can get it to do. :)

    So long as you are not relying on it for secure data storage and are aware that if it dies a nasty death you will have to reinstall, then I personally don't see anything wrong with messing around to your heart's content."

    ** ** Now where'd you get that idea????? :-) You're right to a large degree, although the impluse is to some degree based on my expectations of what the OS ought be able to do. But if it doesn't work, I'll just fall back. I'll go for the unknown, just not for the known to be stupid.



    "Mike_Va -> "this is an expensive OS by home use standards"

    I don't agree. At around $150 OEM that places it about $20 more than XP Pro OEM. Compared to other servers, even Linux home servers, WHS is actually a good deal."

    ** ** Point taken, I suppose. I'd gotten used to $100 or so for OS upgrades. But the number and price of the Vista flavors is a bit much, and I see WHS following the trend up the price chain while most software's getting cheaper (or free). Now the team is apparently thinking of stratifying WHS into two versions. Don't like where I see this going. Every time products get split, the less expensive one has most of what you need -- just not those few things that force you to go up the prince band. Still, I'm not upset with the $180 or so I paid for the thing back when I bought it, and if it does what I want, I'm OK with the deal. I'm not as OK with all of the supposed fragility. But so far, I'm not seeing it, so we'll see how it goes.



    "Mike_Va -> But running Word on it is scary and dangerous, and you can't use the defragger that ships on the CD???

    WHS is not a desktop OS like XP or Vista, it is a Server OS. Attempting to think that it is exactly the same and can do the same tasks is not correct. Otherwise corporations would have no need for SBS or Server2008, etc., just run a less-expensive copy of XP... There is a significant difference on how the OS's are designed for use. While Server 2003 can be "hacked" into running like a desktop, it would just be easier in the long run simply to purchase XP Pro, which out-of-the-box is guaranteed to give better desktop performance and support a much wider range of hardware and software.

    And regarding what you can and can't, or should and shouldn't, run on WHS... XP Pro includes RegEdit on the CD, but if I use it without knowing what I'm doing, it's a fast way to a system that no longer boots. Server OS's will be tested to run successfully with other server-role hardware and software. So SQL servers, email servers, etc. will be tested with server-role OS's. Word processors, games, paint software, etc. will be tested with workstation/desktop-role OS's. Like many things in life, we need to ask ourselves not "can" we do this, but "should" we do this."

    ** ** I understand the first point (about what might be easier), but I'm looking for a cross-over vehicle on a single PC (egad!, and SUV), so I'll try with WHS. It either works or it doesn't. But while I'm well short of your experience level, I can't agree on the second point. Sure Regedit is there, but many users don't know of it or are afraid of it if they do know it exists. Defregging, on the other hand, is something that everybody except the family members that I personally look after does regularly :-) Further, there doesn't appear to be anything to warn you that using a standard XP tool will blow the Server OS right out of the water. This needs fixing before somebody hurts themselves -- one of the very few places I think the team could be taken to task (unless it's disabled or something -- knowing of the issue, I'm not going near it).


    What I'm doing is known ot be risky.  Fine.  Defragging a hard disc with a tool that ships on the CD is entirely normal home user behavior.  Not fixing that is just uncool.  WHS needs a DE/Tombstone aware defragger (and will likely get one). 

    "Mike_Va -> when they suggest that redunant RAID flavors are terrible for home use

    I actually agree with the blogger. While RAID is within the technological grasp of the home computer enthusiast, the mom and pop or granny computer user who only knows how to surf and email, will be totally lost with hardware RAID. I also believe that since DE already provides file duplication when two or more drives are present, that the extra expense for essentially no gain of RAID is not worth it for the market that WHS is aimed for. You are also essentially nullifying any advantage to RAID itself, when looking at it from a Server and performance viewpoint. On a high-performance SBS2003 file server setup I can fully understand using RAID (many of my corporate clients have RAID1 on their SBS2003 file servers). A valid WHS scenario on this would be: home enthusiast believes RAID is cool, asks computer store to configure a server system for him with RAID1-under-WHS... since DE is a software system, where is the throughput gain of having underlying RAID? And hardware duplication of files that are already software duplicated for simple mom 'n' pop home use is just throwing away money for extra technology that will not be realized. It's like installing an HD4870 X2 or GTX 280 OC2 into a granny system where she only surfs and googles and sends emails..."

    ** ** Here we're mostly in agreement, but I may not have been clear. We agree that DE is better and more effiicent in the WHS context. I wasn't suggesting RAID + DE, which would be silly. But RAID as an alternative to DE, while less efficient in terms of storage use, wouldn't be so awful, and it's not THAT hard to set up. But again, DE is "better" in every relevant sense. I think it's really quite an intelligent way to go about solving several problems, one of my favorite features of the OS.


    "Mike_Va -> So consider that my first postcard from the bleeding edge of blasphemy.

    I'm not surprised at all that it works and runs with what you installed onto it.

    But I guarantee that you will find that simply installing XP Pro over your RAID3 system will do a much better job"

    ** ** Yep, and I've done that on the desktop box.  But another copy of XP wouldn't work for dual use as a server downstairs, at least not with the advantages WHS offers. I'm most anxious to see your "advanced" WHS site, and would love to hear more about that. But even with the sorts of extensions you have in mind, some of which I may try, the server's still just sitting most of the time. I'm just tinkering, as you suggested, to see what we can do with all that wasted time while the entire box is, um, resting (being Windows Home Slacker, in other words).

    As for remote desktop and support, almost nothing we're doing (unless you bought your server in a box) is supported, right? I use the RD client all the time, and didn't even know it was frowned on. I assume that the problem is what you might do while using it, not the mere fact that you're connecting that way.

    Thanks very much for checking back, and for the benefit of your thoughts. I'm looking forward to your website -- let me know where to look and when (do you have a base website I could check for news?). One thing I'm hoping to start getting a handle on is what the configuration differences are between XP and Server 03/WHS. I'm not to a point where this is useful yet, but if my Desktop/WHS combo works, it'd be interesting to see how best to tune it for the compromises inherent in the dual role (although so far, it's just working in all the ways it shouldn't without the slightest apparent performance hitch).

    Mike

    • Edited by Mike_Va Tuesday, September 9, 2008 2:39 AM edit
    Tuesday, September 9, 2008 2:02 AM
  • Mike_Va -> I'd gotten used to $100 or so for OS upgrades.

    WHS wouldn't be available as an upgrade SKU for any of your existing OS's.  :)
    In Canada Vista Ultimate is $220, SBS2003 is $490.  WHS is $170.  OEM of course.


    Mike_Va -> I'm not as OK with all of the supposed fragility.

    I think "fragile" is kind of looking at WHS incorrectly.  MS has designed it as a headless box meant to be accessed through their provided interface.  Using it in this method has no fragility per-se (other than trying to install in onto unsupported hardware etc. if it was not purchased as a pre-built appliance).
    Where things can get broken is if the end-user starts going into places they are not educated on, bypassing the provided method of use by MS.


    Mike_Va -> I'm looking for a cross-over vehicle on a single PC

    I think you need to define what a "server" is to you for your requirements.  It may not be exactly what WHS provides, you may find that you are better suited using a fast PC with RAID for data redundancy, an automated backup procedure, perhaps SyncToy2 scheduled to sync up system files, etc., something that is still based on a desktop OS so that you can use it for games and for regular desktop use.

    For myself, I'm looking for a partial file-server (I'm not interested in DE and desktop backup), email server (or even just a POP3-fetcher) with web-mail capabilities, and a web server (for personal hosting and development).  I'm partners in an ISP and I do corporate IT work, I'm looking for a small home server for my personal business use and so that I can move my personal web/mail server from our ISP headquarters to my home.

    WHS  suits my needs much closer than yours, assuming I defined yours appropriately.


    Mike_Va -> I can't agree on the second point. Sure Regedit is there, but many users don't know of it or are afraid of it if they do know it exists.

    If you are connecting into WHS by the approved methods, you won't be seeing any of the additional tools you shouldn't be using.  Only if you log on locally or use RD will you see these, which is why this is discouraged by MS.
    Even in SBS2003 I always use the Console for 99% of the work and configuration I do.  It's just easier, and the wizards set up by MS take a lot of the hassles out of it.  Attempting to configure User Accounts or Routing and Remote Access directly is a lot of digging around under the hood.


    Mike_Va -> RAID as an alternative to DE

    WHS started out as an OEM appliance OS, so there would be no reason to add RAID support, or test it in various RAID configurations for compatibility issues.  This would have been by design for their original product goal.
    In a corporate environment DE would not be as robust as hardware, as "software RAID" solutions are just too slow in comparison.
    I do agree that many motherboards from ASUS and others do provide SATA RAID on-board, but I'm willing to bet that 99% of the installations are not using it.
    My two workstations are using ASUS P5KE-Wifi/AP mobos which have dual RAID and I am not using it (or the Wifi).
    For a corporation, downtime from a single hard drive failure while the IT dept restores from the last backup is costly, which is why RAID is a good idea.  For a home user, syncing systems with SyncToy or using WHS with Duplicate shares is more than sufficient and is also more than what most home users currently have in-place.  If a home user had RAID set up by their computer store, they wouldn't know what any of the RAID maintenance messages on bootup even meant.  WHS will handle all of this automatically.


    Mike_Va -> I'm most anxious to see your "advanced" WHS site, and would love to hear more about that.

    I've already started on it, but I want to get a lot of the site completed before it goes public.  I'll host it off of my main domain.
    However, my aim is more towards utilizing some of the Server 2003 features included in WHS, not how to get it to work as a desktop.  :)
    I will also try to document most of the areas that shouldn't be touched in order to prevent walking on top of WHS functions.
    I'm a multi-published author, so it will be in-depth with plenty of graphics and information.
    I am also looking at writing a few utilities in C++/C# that I require for WHS, which will be available from my site.


    Mike_Va -> One thing I'm hoping to start getting a handle on is what the configuration differences are between XP and Server 03/WHS.

    Good luck with that.  :)

    I wouldn't attempt to fully dual-role Server 2003 or WHS.  Too many of the included subsystems differ between them.
    First off the 20GB SYS (C:) is way too small for a desktop; the OS is set to prioritize background services and system cache (System Properties, Advanced Performance, but I don't recommend changing this); DE is guaranteed to eat a significant portion of system performance when it is duplicating/balancing/etc. (unfortunately my WHS box lags far behind my desktops in this area); there are additional server services running that will be useless in a desktop environment; hardware and software support will be less/different; subsystems such as DirectX are not installed by default; etc.
    It would be easier to place a desktop into a partial server role (file storage and backup) than it would be to place a server into a desktop role (games and such).

    I guess it just comes down to what you are willing to live with and work with.  Server 2003 can be used for email and surfing and running MS Office, but that is not what it was designed for doing, or what it does best.
    • Edited by MrDRGreen Tuesday, September 9, 2008 3:39 AM typos
    Tuesday, September 9, 2008 3:29 AM
  • Mike_Va said:


    1. The original plan was to run WHS on a box with an AMD64 3800x2, 2 gigs of RAM, and peripherals of that generation. That's where it sits now.



    Thought I'd chime in and say that this is the exact setup I'm using.  WHS runs just fine.
    Tuesday, September 9, 2008 3:07 PM
  • Wow.  What of the odds of that . . . seems to work fine for me as well, which it pretty good considering what I'm up to with it. 

    Nothing really new to report yet beyond: 

    1.  Driver for slide scanner (Canoscan 4000) installed to SCSI without apparent problem -- but device untested as yet. 

    2.  Found a bunch of stuff about server-oriented optimization in my WHS Book (I think it's the Unleashed one).  I think I'm going to hold off on messing with that just yet, and let the server tasks have priority -- that's still the primary function of this box.  But the options are there to some degree, so we'll see how things go. 

    On several of the optimization choices, I'd expect no change in performance for either function (server vs. desktop) based on the descriptions even if I changed things, simply because there's plenty of memory in the machine and server does much of it's work in the wee hours of the AM, and I'm too old to stay up that late and still get up to make a 5:30AM workout. 

    3.  Whilst I do understand the 20Gig partiation limit that somebody mentioned earlier, it's not looking like a problem for now.  Plenty of room with most things installed.  Don't like seeing it locked as it is, but I think I can live with it for the time being.  I'll just have to keep up with temp files and all those "undo" files for patches and such. 

    I'm still expecting the house, or at least the PC, to blow up as a result of all this evil I'm up to, but so far it has just refused to do so -- just like the super-stable thing that SBS 03 is supposed to be. 

    Not going to have much time this week/weekend, so the next report (for the one or two of you who may care) will likely be somewhat delayed. 

    Mike
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:24 PM
  • I wouldn't expect things to blow up.  That's probably a bit dramatic for an OS...  ;)
    I've found WHS to be quite resiliant and to accept a good portion of the Server 2003 and XP platform software and hardware.  In many cases those people who are having issues are attempting to use software or hardware that I wouldn't want to put even on Server 2003 or XP.  :)
    For the other cases, there are at times various tweaks that must be done in order to get things to behave.
    I would still recommend people use WHS as a server and not a desktop though.  XP Pro or Vista H.P. is cheaper and better suited.
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 8:49 PM