[thelist] The Perfect Web Server - An elusive Search

Scott Benton scott at printelectric.com
Sat May 6 13:57:49 CDT 2006

I can offer some insight into the Mac platform specifically, which  
I've worked on almost exclusively for the past 13 years. I have been  
running in-house Apache servers for development and testing purposes  
for about 3 years on various Mac workstations (G4 and G5). My  
experience with running Apache on Mac workstations has been VERY  
good. About three months ago, we purchased a dual 2.0 ghz. Xserve  
with a raid card, and 1.5tb. of drive space (formatted raid level 5,  
available disk space is about 900gb). We are currently running Mac OS  
Server 10.4.4 or 10.4.5.

My limited experience has been that the Mac OS Server admin software  
in general is not terribly reliable. We frequently have to propagate  
permissions on the server, to fix problems with files that are not  
accessible to the people that they should be accessible to. I also  
frequently have to resort to command line to get things fixed when  
the admin tools just don't do what they are supposed to. I recently  
installed up to date versions of Apache 2, PHP, and MySql on this  
server, and there are some OS-specific bugs that are preventing the  
Apache server from operating as expected. There are fixes, but last  
time I checked (2 weeks ago), they were not yet available as binary  
installs, and would have to be compiled from source in order to  
install. Also, we purchased a 500 gb. firewire drive to use as a  
'nearline' backup (in addition to the REV tape which we already have  
working through Retrospect). The drive was formatted and data zeroed  
before being installed on the server. We set up a script with Synk  
(http://www.decimus.net/synk/) to backup data nightly to the firewire  
drive. The drive is now installed on the server, and is completely  
dysfunctional. Files have been copied to the drive, both manually and  
with Synk. The drive lists the top level folders only - no subs and  
no files - but the drive shows the space as being used. Also, we're  
unable to eject or unmount the drive for reformatting. I'm going in  
on Sunday this week to sort that out. Although I don't have evidence  
to support this, I'm almost positive the problem is originating with  
the Mac OS server software.

If you are considering the Mac platform at all, I wouldn't waste your  
money on the server (unless you need all of the capabilities of the  
server software - AFP, mail, ldap, managed user accounts, etc.). If  
you do get a Mac server, plan on hiring someone to configure it, and  
plan on having them back in after a few of months to answer questions  
and fix things. Our primary business is print design and production,  
and the Mac server is awesome for those purposes, but if I just  
needed a web server, it would be total overkill (and a pain in the ass).

My experience with Mac workstations, however, is completely the  
opposite. Running Apache 1 and 2 on my Mac workstations has been  
completely stable. Command line configuration has been extremely  
simple. There are very few default parameters that need to be updated  
from a default Apache install in order to get a functional server.  
For peace of mind, you might want to hire a good consultant to walk  
you through config. and security issues. Once again, I have to  
qualify that I run very low traffic servers, operating on a protected  
network - and I am a designer and programmer, not an experienced IT  

Good luck -

Scott Benton
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
scott at printelectric.com
tel: 214-752-6888
fax: 214-889-3100

More information about the thelist mailing list