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Building web server with 600-ish budget

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September 29, 2010 8:52:04 PM

I need a box to run a Jetty web server. MySQL database is small, but I think I'll need a lot of memory. Current old 386 box running W2K in 128M is running out of swap space with 6 instances. I'd like to plan for 30+ copies of my Wicket app, with maybe a dozen concurrent users max (current peak is 3 ever). I know I could go with a hosted solution for 80-100/month, but with my own box and a new UPS, I think uptime would be adequate. This will also help me learn Ubuntu as I plan to setup a temp W2K VM to migrate quickly, then wean myself off it.

This is for a nonprofit with low budget, but I don't want to be too cheap either if it gets us something more reliable. Also, the box will go near the cable modem and a few linksys wireless routers I go thru, none of which have UPS protection now, so I'll need a UPS with capacity for the new box plus those.

I know far more about Java software than building hardware, so I've come here for the best advice; thanks in advance!

Here's what I have so far: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

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September 29, 2010 10:40:48 PM

I don't think that's a public wishlist link. I couldn't see anything (and it made me log in to see it).

Here are my suggestions:

Go with an Athlon II X2 ($60-$70). Go with a cheap GeForce7000-series or AMD 740G/760G motherboard, make sure it supports RAID 1 ($50-$70). Go with 2x2GB of memory ($70). Get a case with good cooling (lots of fans/slots) and a 80+ certified PSU, 300W-400W-range (maybe $100 total). Go with RAID1 on the HDDs (2x500GB Caviar Green = $110). DVD-drive = $20.

Total = $410-$440. Depending on shipping (lots of that comes with free shipping) You might have $150 left for a UPC. I'd just get the best APC-branded UPC you can for whatever you have left.

I can stab in the dark for actual components (brands, models, etc..) if you need me to, but my only real suggestion is to go with Gigabyte, Asus, MSI, or Foxconn for the motherboard, WD or Samsung for the HDD. Otherwise, memory is pretty much all good, cases are a dime a dozen in the cheap price range (again, look for fans), and PSUs mostly depend on whatever has the best sale/rebate (Rosewill/CoolerMaster/Antec all good brands).
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September 30, 2010 2:40:31 PM

hellwig's build seems good. If you can spare a few additional $$$, a 4 core CPU could cost you ~30$ more (< 100$) and getting an entry-level SSD for your OS, web server and DB would give you considerably more I/O if they don't take too much space (you could probably get a 60GB SSD for 100-120$), just make sure you set periodic backups to a regular HDD as you won't have RAID to save you (then again, RAID 1 is not a backup solution, it's a hardware failure prevention mechanism). This should still fit within the 600$ limit.
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September 30, 2010 3:46:58 PM

Why make life difficult, plenty oem servers that will do what you want for under $600 and you get warranty.
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September 30, 2010 7:10:11 PM

das_stig: We're talking maybe $450 for the machine itself here (with left-over going towards a UPC). I'm not sure you could get a comparable pre-built for that same price. You'd have to sacrifice the processor (lots come with Celerons or Pentiums, and you don't overclock a server), the memory (2GB is standard while my 4GB suggestion gives more room), or drive capacity (I put a RAID1 setup, but he could go with a single 1TB drive for $40 cheaper if he really wanted to, dropping the price below $400, matching the common capacity of prebuilt servers).

Yeah, if he's not too technically inclined, it might just be better to let HP or Dell do the work anyway. But really, unless he gets a bad part, this build should outlast your standard 1-year OEM warranty anyway (and the parts ARE under manufacturer warranty).

Zenthar: Good suggestions, but I don't see the SSD really fitting his build. My RAID1 suggestion was more for redundancy than speed, as he mentioned Up-Time as being important. Even good backups mean bringing down the machine for repairs if you lose your single SSD. It doesn't sound like he has the user-base to necessitate an SSDs better access rates, but I don't know that for sure. Still, it is something he can consider.

My suggestion of 500GB drives was just hitting the price/capacity sweet-spot. Getting smaller drives really isn't beneficial, you could save $10-20 a drive, but lose 200-400GB.
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September 30, 2010 8:59:10 PM

Wow, great responses - thanks! SSD suggestion was a suprise, but so tempting... But faster boot isn't an issue so maybe with plenty of main memory, response time won't improve enough to justify cost I think.

So where I'm at now is this:
Gigabyte 785G mobo $70
AMD Phenom 9850 2.5Ghz $71
Kingston 4GB DDR2 800 memory $88
-Kingston 64GB SSD $115 is too much, but ooh-ahh
WesternDigital 250GB SATA Drive $43 ea (2 to RAID) - maybe a bit small, but by the time I grow into this I'll be ready for a hosted solution anyway (and this will make a sweet desktop later with a SSD)
Diablotek 380W PS $30
Rosewill MicroATX Case $30
Lite-On CD/DVD $17
CyberPower 1350 810Watt UPS $140
BYTECC SATA cables (3) $7
Total $538.48 plus $13.45 Shipping (with a bonus mouse and T Shirt Geesh)

I think everything should fit/work together - right? Again, thanks so much for the tips/confidence.
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September 30, 2010 9:05:04 PM

The SSD wasn't actually for the boot time, but the random access which is what many Web Servers and database do. In simulated webserver tests, SSD trumps HDD by an order of magnitude. However, as hellwig mentioned, this would be to the detriment of up-time because you wouldn't have the RAID 1 anymore.
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October 1, 2010 12:05:53 AM

Those parts look good, just make sure you got enough airflow to keep that guy running all the time. Might need to buy an extra fan or two (depending on how many open slots and what size your case can support).

One thing though, if you are getting an OEM processor, you will need to buy an aftermarket cooler to go with it. The only 9850 I found on Newegg was OEM and doesn't come with a fan (though you could be buying it from somewhere else). A cooler will push up the cost $20-30, and at that point, it might be better to get retail Athlon II X4 that will come with a cooler: Like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103706 (Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz: $90). Of course, there's no free T-Shirt with that particular processor.
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October 1, 2010 1:15:30 PM

Best answer selected by jpinkham.
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October 1, 2010 1:22:02 PM

Thanks - I just ordered it (as above except with retail Athlon II X4 620 2.6 with fan) and a slightly bigger UPS for $160. Grand total $608, right in the ballpark.
Now, once it arrives, I'm putting Ubuntu Server on it and go from there. Thanks again for all the good tips.
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October 14, 2010 10:08:41 PM

And it's humming away happily serving web requests now.

Just one little detail in case someone copies that build list - the power supply listed above was for a Mini-ATX case, and so it was a bit smaller than what the case really wants - I made it work by lining it up at a bit of a diagonal and managed to get 3 screws holding it in. I think 380W is plenty for just a pair of hard drives an not much else periphial-wise, but if I were ordering another I'd want to fix that. Also no need for 3 extra sata cables - 2 were included with the main board.

Getting tomcat6 on port 80 was a bit more tricky, but that's a story for another forum I guess (look at last line of /etc/default/tomcat6 to enable authbind, not just setting connector to use 80 in /etc/tomcat6/server.xml).

Thanks again all!
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October 14, 2010 11:35:38 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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