Subject: Help me replace a Sun-4/380 mega-News server with a NetBSD/i386 box
To: None <>
From: Greg Earle <earle@isolar.Tujunga.CA.US>
List: port-i386
Date: 12/19/1994 21:45:25
[ This is kinda long, because I have to explain just what it is we're thinking
  of replacing ... ]

OK, all you PC NetBSD studs ... (-:

At my work (JPL) we've gotten some funds allocated to replace our old wheezing
Usenet news server.  This is a pretty important machine to the Lab; at one
time it was the main open News server for the entire Lab, it also served as
the main e-mail hub forwarder as well as providing name service for the
JPL.NASA.GOV domain.  (It also served about 30-60 in.nnrpd's during this time)
For quite a while, it regularly showed up in the "Top 20 list of most
influential news servers" in the world (where "influential" means "some `N'
percentage of all Usenet news has passed through this machine on its way
around the 'Net).  Oh, and it services a few dial-up lines for good measure.
"Busy" doesn't half describe this machine.  There are sweat beads on the CPU
board  (-:

The group with the machine is an all-Sun/all-SGI shop.  The machine itself
is an old Sun-4/380 rackmount server w/ gobs of (old) disks.  It's getting
*really* bogged down:

elroy:1:21 [/home/earle] % w
  9:19pm  up 26 days,  8:41,  2 users,  load average: 10.54, 9.19, 8.50

elroy:1:23 [/home/earle] % top -n -I
last pid: 14353;  load averages: 10.13,  9.27,  8.58    21:20:46
105 processes: 100 sleeping, 5 running

Memory: 91016K available, 90976K in use, 40K free, 4608K locked

13259 news      44    0   160K  208K run     0:50  3.44%  2.34% nntpxmit
  198 news      46    0 27096K 8128K run  2975:55  1.96%  1.95% innd
14351 earle     42    0   688K  872K run     0:00  5.40%  0.78% top-sun4-4.1.3
15471 news      44    0 16040K 6800K run    92:52  0.78%  0.78% makehistory
14268 news       1    2   464K  648K sleep   0:02  0.39%  0.39% compress
14128 news       1    0   160K  464K sleep   0:09  0.39%  0.39% nntpxmit
13204 news      -5    0   160K  184K run     0:56  0.00%  0.00% nntpxmit

It's got several full newsfeeds and several minor ones to boot (and btw, that
"makehistory" has been running since Sunday.)

The load average is usually over 7, nearly all of the time.  But of course
it's I/O bound, not CPU bound.  There's even some idle CPU left over  (-:

It's clearly running out of gas.  So we're trying to get a replacement.

The problem:

Our canonical choice is a basic SPARCstation-20/61 with 32 Mb and a 1 Gb
disk.  That basically swallows up almost all of the money.  We can add on
another 32 Mb and steal a 2 Gb disk (for the news spool) from another box, but
we're still short of memory and disk for our "ideal" configuration.  Unless
we can beg some more money, we're going to be short.

So, this got me thinking cost conservation, and that made me think "What about
a NetBSD/i386 box?".

Thus, what I'm looking for: a recommendation for a PC configuration that can
handle a pretty unique mixture, with heavy, heavy emphasis on I/O.  That is
the most important thing.  Support for multiple Ethernets is somewhat of a
vital necessity as well.

Here is the present machine configuration that needs to be replaced:

elroy:1:24 [/home/earle] % sysinfo


Host Name           : elroy
Host Aliases        : mailhost elroy-ether 
Host Address(es)    : 
Host ID             : 23002200
Serial Number       : 11931680
Manufacturer        : Sun (Sun Microsystems Incorporated)
System Model        : SPARCsystem 300
Main Memory         : 96 MB
Virtual Memory      : 130 MB
ROM Version         : 4.1.1
CPU Type            : sun4
Number of CPUs      : 1
App Architecture    : sun4
Kernel Architecture : sun4
OS Name             : SunOS
OS Version          : 4.1.3
Kernel Version      : SunOS Release 4.1.3 (ELROY) #4: Fri Aug 26 14:02:17 PDT 1994


xdc0 is a "Xylogics 7053/753 SMD"
    xd0 is a "Fujitsu-M2382K" 793 MB disk drive
xlc1 [is a Xylogics SV IPI-2 IPI disk controller]
    xl1 is a 1.9 GB disk drive
xyc0 is a "Xylogics 450/451 SMD"
    xy0 is a "Fujitsu-M2351 Eagle" 377 MB disk drive
    xy1 is a "Fujitsu-M2351 Eagle" 377 MB disk drive
sm0 is a "Emulex MD21 SCSI"
    sd3 is a "SUN1.05" 1002 MB disk drive
zs0 is a "Zilog 8530" serial communications chip
zs1 is a "Zilog 8530" serial communications chip
zs2 is a "Zilog 8530" serial communications chip
le0 is a "AMD Lance Am7990" 10Mb/sec Ethernet network interface
ie1 is a "Intel 82586 LAN Co-Processor" 10Mb/sec Ethernet network interface
ie2 is a "Intel 82586 LAN Co-Processor" 10Mb/sec Ethernet network interface
ie3 is a "Intel 82586 LAN Co-Processor" 10Mb/sec Ethernet network interface
bwtwo0 is a "Black & White memory (bwtwo)" frame buffer
fddi0 is a "Sun FDDI/DX" 100Mb/sec dual-attach FDDI network interface
kbd is a "Sun Type-4" Keyboard

Bottom line wants/needs:
- Lots of disk space, hopefully spread over several physical spindles
- 4 Ethernets (maybe could do with one less)
- 1 FDDI (I don't expect to be able to get an FDDI card for a NetBSD/i386 PC)
- Console head doesn't really matter much

I don't know much about PCs.  I know SPARC systems.  Only data points I have:

- Might want to consider an EISA server because PCI is "too flakey" still(?)

- Only PCI SCSI support is for an "NCR 53C810 PCI SCSI host adapter"; how
  stable/reliable are these cards/software support in NetBSD for them?
  (The Pentium-100 PCs I've seen advertised with SCSI have had an Adaptec 2940;
   I see these are under "Hardware that we do NOT currently support".)

- How much memory can NetBSD/i386 support?  Is there any problem with >16 Mb

- What are the best/most screaming Ethernet cards for a high-end PC that
  NetBSD supports?  I don't know anything about the WD/Novell/3Com/AT&T cards.
Anyway, that's the existing machine and a good idea of what equivalent
functionality we'd need (i.e., what's most important).  Any opinions from
you high-end PC experts would be much appreciated.  Thanks much ...

(NB: I'm on "current-users" and "port-sparc" but not on "port-i386", so please
 direct your followups to me directly, if you would.  Much obliged ... )

	- Greg