Swiki Server problems
guzdial at cc.gatech.edu
Mon Mar 5 15:58:14 UTC 2001
At 10:31 AM -0500 3/5/01, JArchibald at aol.com wrote:
>WRT GaTechies situation, if expanded budget is forthcoming there, and the
>stability of Swikis into the future is a point of interest, does it not make
>sense to run Swikis from GaTech on a spectrum of platforms so as to be able
>to evaluate (and solve some of) problems discovered?
Please note that "expanded budget" means something significantly
smaller in the academic world than in the corporate world. :-) We
have dug up (read: fought hard for) some $9K to replace aging
workstations and servers in the lab. Since a decent box for a server
can be had for $2.5K these days, this feels like riches to us, but
it's not going to allow us to do a *lot* of exploration.
We're currently running our servers on MacOS, Linux, and Solaris.
Linux is by far the most stable, with Solaris second (outstanding
issues: Can't shift display to any XWindows server, still dies
occasionally without obvious cause, networking hiccups often hang the
server), and MacOS distant third. Some of the other groups around
campus are running Swiki servers on NT and Windows 2000. While we
have less direct experience with those servers, reports suggest
Solaris-level performance on NT and below-MacOS level performance on
The problem with running on a wide spectrum of platforms is that it's
REALLY hard to fix the bugs that crop up with Servers. Only rarely
are they image-level bugs. Much more often, the VM's networking
primitives need tweaking. Only a couple of GaTech Squeakers have
proficiency at VM building and tweaking, and they can't know the
networking details of all these platforms. We get help from
Squeakers elsewhere (JMM gave us LOTS of help on the MacOS VM a few
months ago), but it's still a challenge.
Especially because our focus tends to be moving upward these days.
We tend to treat Comanche and Swiki as nearly "done," and we're
building tools and explorations on top of them. The increasing
number of students and teachers that use our servers expect the
servers to be up, and we do our studies on use of the Swikis in
classrooms hoping that server instability isn't going to be a
variable. We need to be able to ignore VM-level bugs, and Linux
seems to be the best platform for us to be doing this.
That said, we haven't made a decision about Minnow yet. We're going
to map several of our other MacOS servers (CoWeb, PBL, Triton) to a
new Linux box we're getting. We may keep Minnow on MacOS as a place
to work on making the Mac implementation solid as a server, but
there's the tension of above: Yes, we'd LIKE to use Macs as
platforms, but it's getting to be harder to argue for spending
Mark Guzdial : Georgia Tech : College of Computing : Atlanta, GA 30332-0280
Associate Professor - Learning Sciences & Technologies.
Collaborative Software Lab - http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/csl/
(404) 894-5618 : Fax (404) 894-0673 : guzdial at cc.gatech.edu
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