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King of the community operating methods

COMPUTINGFrom...Network World Fusion networking

January 24, 2000Web posted at: 12:eleven p.m. EST (1711 GMT)

by way of John Bass and James Robinson, network World test Alliance

(IDG) -- it all boils right down to what you are attempting to find in a network working gadget (NOS).

Do you need it lean and versatile so you can deploy it any way you please? in all probability administration bells and administration whistles are what you need so you can deploy a few hundred servers. Or possibly you want an operating system it really is powerful ample so that you sleep like a child at nighttime?

The decent information is that there is a NOS ready only for you. After the rash of recent application revisions, they took an in-depth analyze four of the foremost NOSes on the market: Microsoft's windows 2000 advanced Server, Novell's NetWare 5.1, purple Hat utility's Linux 6.1 and The Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO) UnixWare 7.1.1. solar declined their invitation to submit Solaris because the enterprise says it's engaged on a brand new edition.

Microsoft's windows 2000 edges out NetWare for the network World Blue Ribbon Award. windows 2000 tops the container with its administration interface, server monitoring equipment, storage management amenities and protection measures.

youngsters, if it be efficiency you're after, no product came close to Novell's NetWare 5.1's numbers in their exhaustive file provider and network benchmarks. With its lightning-quickly engine and Novell's listing-based mostly administration, NetWare offers an excellent base for an business network.

We discovered the latest unlock of purple Hat's business Linux bundle led the listing for flexibility because its modular design means that you can pare down the working equipment to suit the task at hand. moreover, which you can create scripts out of distinctive Linux instructions to automate initiatives across a disbursed atmosphere.

whereas SCO's UnixWare perceived to lag at the back of the pack in terms of file carrier efficiency and NOS-based administration aspects, its scalability features make it a robust candidate for working commercial enterprise functions.

The numbers are in

in spite of the job you saddle your server with, it has to perform neatly at reading and writing information and sending them throughout the community. They designed two benchmark suites to measure every NOS in these two classes. To replicate the actual world, their benchmark assessments accept as true with a wide range of server circumstances.

NetWare was the palms-down leader in their performance benchmarking, taking first area in two-thirds of the file tests and earning top billing in the network tests.

red Hat Linux adopted NetWare in file efficiency average and even outpaced the chief in file tests the place the read/write masses were small. although, Linux didn't function well managing massive loads - these exams through which there were greater than one hundred clients. beneath heavier consumer masses, Linux had a tendency to stop servicing file requests for a brief length after which delivery up once again.

home windows 2000 proven bad write efficiency across all their file tests. in fact, they discovered that its write efficiency became about 10% of its study performance. After consulting with each Microsoft and client/Server solutions, the writer of the Benchmark manufacturing facility checking out tool they used, they decided that the terrible write efficiency may well be due to two components. One, which they had been unable to check, might possibly be a likely performance difficulty with the SCSI driver for the hardware they used.

greater massive, although, was a controversy with their verify utility. Benchmark factory sends a write-via flag in each and every of its write requests that is meant to trigger the server to update cache, if acceptable, after which force a write to disk. When the write to disk occurs, the write call is released and the subsequent request can be despatched.

at first glance, it seemed as if windows 2000 turned into the only working gadget to honor this write-via flag as a result of its write performance turned into so poor. for this reason, they ran a 2d round of write exams with the flag turned off.

With the flag grew to become off, NetWare's write performance elevated by means of 30%. This verify proved that Novell does certainly honor the write-through flag and should write to disk for every write request when that flag is set. however when the write-via flag is disabled, NetWare writes to disk in a more effective manner by batching collectively contiguous blocks of data on the cache and writing all those blocks to disk without delay.

Likewise, purple Hat Linux's performance accelerated through 10% to 15% when the write-through flag changed into turned off. once they examined the Samba file device code, they discovered that it too honors the write-via flag. The Samba code then finds an most suitable time all through the read/write sequence to write to disk.

This 2nd circular of file checking out proves that windows 2000 is elegant on its file gadget cache to optimize write performance. The consequences of the trying out with the write-through flag off were plenty greater - as much as 20 times sooner. despite the fact, home windows 2000 still fell at the back of both NetWare and RedHat Linux within the file write tests when the write-through flag was off.

SCO honors the write-via flag by means of default, for the reason that its journaling file device is constructed to maximize statistics integrity by using writing to disk for all write requests. The results within the write checks with the write-through flag on had been very comparable to the verify outcomes with the write-via flag turned off.

For the network benchmark, they developed two tests. Their long TCP transaction test measured the bandwidth each server can maintain, while their brief TCP transaction examine measured each and every server's ability to address significant numbers of network sessions with small file transactions.

despite a bad showing within the file benchmark, windows 2000 got here out on accurate within the long TCP transaction verify. home windows 2000 is the handiest NOS with a multithreaded IP stack, which enables it to address community requests with varied processors. Novell and red Hat say they're working on integrating this capability into their products.

NetWare and Linux additionally registered robust long TCP examine outcomes, coming in 2d and third, respectively.

in the short TCP transaction examine, NetWare came out the clear winner. Linux earned 2d place regardless of its lack of guide for abortive TCP closes, a way by which an operating equipment can immediately tear down TCP connections. Their trying out application, Ganymede application's Chariot, makes use of abortive closes in its TCP checks.

moving into management

As commercial enterprise networks grow to require greater servers and guide extra conclusion users, NOS administration tools become essential facets in conserving networks beneath control. They seemed on the management interfaces of each and every product and drilled down into how each and every dealt with server monitoring, customer administration, file and print administration, and storage administration.

We found home windows 2000 and NetWare provide equally effective administration interfaces.

Microsoft administration Console (MMC) is the glue that holds most of the home windows 2000 management functionality collectively. This configurable graphical person interface (GUI) allows you to snap in Microsoft and third-celebration applets that personalize its performance. or not it's a two-paned interface, tons like windows Explorer, with a nested checklist on the left and option details on the right. The console is effortless to use and means that you can configure many local server features, together with clients, disks, and equipment settings corresponding to time and date.

MMC also permits you to put in force management guidelines for businesses of users and computer systems using lively listing, Microsoft's new directory service. From the lively listing administration tool interior MMC, that you may configure clients and change guidelines.

The network configuration tools are found in a separate application that opens if you happen to click on on the community places icon on the laptop. every network interface is listed inside this window. that you can add and alter protocols and configure, permit and disable interfaces from right here without rebooting.

NetWare offers a couple of interfaces for server configuration and management. These equipment offer duplicate performance, but each is helpful depending from the place you try to manipulate the equipment. The device Console presents a few equipment for server configuration. one of the most helpful is NWConfig, which lets you alternate delivery-up information, install system modules and configure the storage subsystem. NWConfig is elementary, intuitive and predictable.

ConsoleOne is a Java-primarily based interface with a couple of graphical equipment for managing and configuring NetWare. Third-birthday party administration tools can plug into ConsoleOne and assist you to manipulate assorted features. They suppose ConsoleOne's interface is a bit unsophisticated, but it works well enough for those who have to have a windows- based mostly supervisor.

Novell also offers an internet-obtainable management utility known as NetWare administration Portal, which allows you to manipulate NetWare servers remotely from a browser, and NWAdmin32, a relatively fundamental client-side tool for administering Novell directory capabilities (NDS) from a windows ninety five, ninety eight or NT customer.

crimson Hat's average methods administration interface is referred to as LinuxConf and might run as a graphical or textual content-primarily based application. The graphical interface, which resembles that of MMC, works smartly but has some design issues that make it complicated to make use of every now and then. as an instance, when you run a setup software that takes up lots of the display, the equipment resizes the utility better than the desktop size.

still, that you can control relatively an awful lot the rest on the server from LinuxConf, and you can use it in the neighborhood or remotely over the net or via telnet. you can configure gadget parameters comparable to network addresses; file equipment settings and user debts; and set up add-on functions akin to Samba - which is a service that lets windows customers get to data living on a Linux server - and FTP and internet servers. you can apply alterations with out rebooting the system.

usual, purple Hat's interface is useful and the underlying equipment are powerful and versatile, however LinuxConf lacks the polish of the other vendors' tools.

SCO Admin is a GUI-based mostly front conclusion for roughly 50 SCO UnixWare configuration and management equipment in a single window. if you happen to click on a device, it brings up the software to manage that item in a separate window.

a few of SCO's equipment are GUI-based whereas others are text-based. The server required a reboot to practice lots of the adjustments. On the plus facet, which you can manipulate diverse UnixWare servers from SCOAdmin.

SCO also presents a positive Java-primarily based far flung administration device referred to as WebTop that works from your browser.

an eye fixed on the servers and valued clientele

One essential administration assignment is monitoring the server itself. Microsoft leads the pack in how neatly which you can preserve an eye in your server's internals.

The windows 2000 system video display allows you to view a true-time, working graph of gadget operations, comparable to CPU and community utilization, and reminiscence and disk usage. They used these tools greatly to check the impact of their benchmark checks on the working equipment. yet another device called network display screen has a primary network packet analyzer that lets you see the forms of packets coming into the server. together, these Microsoft utilities will also be used to evaluate efficiency and ability throughout distinctive windows 2000 servers.

NetWare's video display utility displays processor utilization, reminiscence utilization and buffer utilization on a native server. if you know what to search for, it can also be a powerful tool for diagnosing bottlenecks within the system. discovering the which means of each and every of the monitored parameters is just a little of a problem, although.

if you need to study efficiency facts across dissimilar servers, you can tap into Novell's web administration Portal.

red Hat presents the commonplace Linux command-line tools for monitoring the server, akin to iostat and vmstat. It has no graphical monitoring tools.

as with all Unix working equipment, which you can write scripts to automate these equipment throughout Linux servers. however, these equipment are typically cryptic and require a high level of proficiency to make use of without problems. a collection of graphical monitoring equipment would be a pretty good addition to red Hat's Linux distribution.

UnixWare also presents a few monitoring equipment. system monitor is UnixWare's primary however restrained GUI for monitoring processor and reminiscence utilization. The sar and rtpm command-line tools collectively list actual-time system utilization of buffer, CPUs and disks. together, these equipment give you a pretty good standard idea of the load on the server.

customer administration

together with managing the server, you should manipulate its clients. or not it's no shock that the two NOSes that ship with an integrated listing service topped the box in customer administration tools.

We were capable of configure person permissions via Microsoft's lively listing and the directory administration tool in MMC. you could community clients and computer systems into organizational devices and observe policies to them.

that you could manage Novell's NDS and NetWare clients with ConsoleOne, NWAdmin or NetWare administration Portal. every can create clients, manage file space, and set permissions and rights. additionally, NetWare ships with a 5-person version of Novell's ZENworks tool, which presents laptop administration features corresponding to hardware and software inventory, utility distribution and remote control features.

pink Hat Linux does not offer a whole lot in the way of client administration features. You need to control native users via Unix permission configuration mechanisms.

UnixWare is comparable to purple Hat Linux when it comes to client administration, but SCO gives some windows binaries on the server to remotely set file and listing permissions from a home windows customer, in addition to create and change clients and their settings. SCO and purple Hat offer support for the Unix-based mostly community advice service (NIS). NIS is a store for network suggestions like logon names, passwords and residential directories. This integration helps with customer administration.

handling the staples: File and print

A NOS is nothing with out the means to share file storage and printers. Novell and Microsoft collected suitable honors in these areas.

that you may easily add and keep printers in home windows 2000 the usage of the print administration wizard, and you'll add file shares using energetic listing management tools. home windows 2000 additionally offers disbursed File features, which assist you to combine information on more than one server right into a single share.

Novell distributed Print functions (NDPS) assist you to straight away comprise printers into the network. When NDPS senses a new printer on the community, it defines a Printer Agent that runs on the printer and communicates with NDS. then you definately use NDS to outline the policies for the new printer.

You define NetWare file services by using growing after which mounting a disk quantity, which additionally manages extent guidelines.

pink Hat contains Linux's printtool utility for constructing server-related and networks printers. you can additionally use this GUI to create printcap entries to outline printer access.

Linux has a group of command-line file gadget configuration tools for mounting and unmounting partitions. Samba ships with the product and offers some integration for home windows customers. that you would be able to configure Samba best through a cryptic configuration ASCII file - a significant disadvantage.

UnixWare offers a versatile GUI-based mostly printer setup device called Printer SetUp manager. For file and quantity management, SCO presents a tool referred to as VisionFS for interoperability with windows consumers. They used VisionFS to permit their NT consumers to access the UnixWare server. This carrier was effortless to configure and use.

Storage administration

windows 2000 offers the highest quality tools for storage administration. Its graphical manage Disks device for native disk configuration contains software RAID management; which you can dynamically add disks to a quantity set without having to reboot the gadget. moreover, a signature is written to every of the disks in an array in order that they can be moved to an extra 2000 server without having to configure the quantity on the new server. the brand new server acknowledges the drives as members of a RAID set and adds the quantity to the file equipment dynamically.

NetWare's quantity administration tool, NWConfig, is easy to make use of, but it can be a little complicated to install a RAID volume. as soon as they knew what they were doing, they had no problems formatting drives and making a RAID volume. The tool looks a little primitive, but they give it high marks for functionality and ease of use.

pink Hat Linux offers no graphical RAID configuration equipment, however its command line equipment made RAID configuration convenient.

To configure disks on the UnixWare server, they used the Veritas quantity manager graphical disk and quantity administration device that ships with UnixWare. They had some complications at first getting the tool to recognize the drives so they can be formatted. They managed to work across the disk configuration problem using an assortment of command line tools, after which volume manager worked smartly.

security

while they didn't probe these NOSes considerably to show any protection weaknesses, they did analyze what they offered in safety facets.

Microsoft has made big strides with windows 2000 safety. windows 2000 supports Kerberos public key certificates as its primary authentication mechanism within a domain, and enables further authentication with sensible playing cards. Microsoft provides a security Configuration tool that integrates with MMC for easy management of security objects in the lively directory services gadget, and a new Encrypting File device that lets you designate volumes on which data are automatically kept the use of encryption.

Novell delivered assist for a public-key infrastructure into NetWare 5 the use of a public certificate schema developed by using RSA security that means that you can tap into NDS to generate certificates.

pink Hat presents a simple Kerberos authentication mechanism. With pink Hat Linux, as with most Unix working systems, the community capabilities can be in my view managed to increase protection. red Hat offers Pluggable Authentication Modules as a method of permitting you to set authentication guidelines across programs operating on the server. Passwords are blanketed with a shadow file. pink Hat also bundles firewall and VPN capabilities.

UnixWare has a set of security tools referred to as protection supervisor that means that you can installation varying degrees of intrusion coverage throughout your network services, from no limit to turning all community features off. it's an outstanding administration time saver, although you could manually adjust the functions to obtain the identical effect.

stability and fault tolerance

essentially the most characteristic-rich NOS is of little price if it can not maintain a server up and running. windows 2000 offers utility RAID 0, 1 and 5 configurations to deliver fault tolerance for onboard disk drives, and has a constructed-in network load-balancing feature that allows a gaggle of servers to seem like one server and share the equal community identify and IP tackle. The group decides which server will carrier each request. This now not most effective distributes the community load across a couple of servers, it additionally gives fault tolerance in case a server goes down. On a lesser scale, you could use Microsoft's Failover Clustering to provide simple failover functions between two servers.

As with NT four.0, windows 2000 provides memory protection, which means that each system runs in its own phase.

There are additionally backup and restoration capabilities bundled with home windows 2000.

Novell has an add-on product for NetWare referred to as Novell Cluster capabilities that allows you to cluster as many as eight servers, all managed from one place the use of ConsoleOne, NetWare administration Portal or NWAdmin32. but Novell at this time presents no clustering products to provide load balancing for functions or file services. NetWare has an difficult memory protection scheme to segregate the memory used for the kernel and functions, and a Storage administration capabilities module to deliver a totally bendy backup and restoration facility. Backups can also be all-inclusive, cowl materials of a volume or save a differential photo.

purple Hat provides a load-balancing product known as piranha with its Linux. This package gives TCP load balancing between servers in a cluster. There is not any difficult restrict to the variety of servers that you would be able to configure in a cluster. pink Hat Linux also gives software RAID guide through command line equipment, has memory coverage capabilities and provides a rudimentary backup facility.

SCO gives an not obligatory function to cluster a couple of servers in a load-balancing ambiance with continuous Clustering for a high level of fault-tolerance. currently, non-stop Clustering supports six servers in a cluster. UnixWare offers utility RAID guide it is managed the usage of SCO's on line information supervisor characteristic. the entire average RAID stages are supported. desktop buddies' bundled ArcServeIT 6.6 provides backup and repair capabilities. UnixWare has reminiscence protection capabilities.

Documentation

as a result of their testing was carried out earlier than home windows 2000's conventional availability ship date, they have been no longer in a position to consider its hard-replica documentation. The online documentation supplied on a CD is huge, useful and smartly-prepared, youngsters a web interface can be plenty simpler to use if it gave greater than a few sentences at a time for a selected help topic.

NetWare 5 comes with two manuals: a detailed manual for installing and configuring the NOS with decent explanations of ideas and contours together with an overview of the way to configure them, and a small spiral-bound booklet of brief beginning cards. Novell's online documentation is very beneficial.

purple Hat Linux comes with three manuals - an installing e book, a getting all started e book and a reference guide - all of which can be effortless to comply with.

despite being probably the most intricate product to install, UnixWare offers the top-rated documentation. It comes with two manuals: a system handbook and a getting begun e book. The gadget guide is a reference for conducting the installation of the operating equipment. It does a very good job of reflecting this painful journey. The getting began e book is well-written and smartly-equipped. It covers lots of the tools needed to configure and hold the working equipment. SCO's online documentation looks high-quality and is easy to comply with.

Wrapping up

The bottom line is that these NOSes offer a wide range of characteristics and supply enterprise shoppers with a good deal of alternative involving how each and every will also be utilized in any given company network.

in case you desire a pretty good, time-honored intention NOS that can carry commercial enterprise-category features with all the bells and whistles imaginable, then home windows 2000 is the strongest contender. however, for high performance, commercial enterprise file and print services, their checks display that Novell leads the pack. if you are inclined to pay a more robust expense for scalability and reliability, SCO UnixWare would be a safe bet. but if you need an inexpensive alternative in order to provide you with naked-bones community functions with good efficiency, pink Hat Linux can actually healthy the invoice.

The choice is yours.

Bass is the technical director and Robinson is a senior technical body of workers member at Centennial Networking Labs (CNL) at North Carolina State school in Raleigh. CNL specializes in performance, capacity and contours of networking and server technologies and equipment.

related reviews:

Debate will focus on Linux vs. LinuxJanuary 20, 2000Some windows 2000 PCs will jump the gunJanuary 19, 2000IBM throws Linux lovefestJanuary 19, 2000Corel Linux will run windows appsJanuary 10, 2000Novell's eDirectory spans platformsNovember 16, 1999New NetWare embraces internet appsNovember 2, 1999Microsoft units a date for home windows 2000October 28, 1999

connected IDG.net experiences:

Fusion's forum: rectangular off with the carriers over who has the top-rated NOS(network World Fusion)How they did it: details of the checking out(network World Fusion)find out the tuning parameters(network World Fusion)down load the Config information(community World Fusion)The Shootout consequences(network World Fusion)Fusion's NOS materials(community World Fusion)With windows 2000, NT grows up(network World Fusion)Fireworks anticipated at NOS showdown(community World Fusion)

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external websites don't seem to be endorsed with the aid of CNN Interactive. linked sites:

Novell, Inc.Microsoft Corp.The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. (SCO)pink Hat, Inc.

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