back to article Cut to the Web Server Core: Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008, due for its official launch today, is a major upgrade for Microsoft's server platform, the first for around five years. Requiring a graphical user interface (GUI) on a server operating system always seemed odd, even back in 1993 when Microsoft released Windows NT 3.1. It has taken Microsoft until now to …

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So disappointed

by the Core mode. I cannot for the life of me see why this is something which is a "long term design goal" and not fairly readily achieved. Something which is as simple as changing the default Runlevel in *nix is apparently a complete bear in Windows? My suspicion is that MS know full well that Windows engineers like GUIs. The mistake they're making is thinking that we use these GUIs by RDPing onto servers (hence their rather blasé "just RDP to the server" workaround to the Admin tools on Vista issue); we don't. We install the admin tools on our desktops and manage servers remotely. I don't want eight RDP windows open to manage eight DNS servers; I have a single MMC console with all of them in it.

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Anonymous Coward

slight correction

"...Terminal Services features, including RemoteApp that lets you remote an individual application, rather than a complete desktop,...".

Akshully, windows has had that or summat similar for a long while. You get TS to allow remote start up of app in a window with the desktop hidden and inaccessible. Connection terminates when app terminates. Basically it looks exactly like it's running locally. Set it up for one of our products in early 2003. Buggered if I remember how.

Or care. Just installed linux on one box, its X11 desktop showing fine on another, and I *like* it.

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Linux

Apache and Windows Integration

Actually, Apache integrates nicely with Windows for authentication - if that's all you want, there's no need to go through the pain of IIS. Where I work, we run source control services and gropupware all under Apache but since there's a working AD system we figured there was no need to reinvent the wheel - Apache gives you the choice of mod_sspi (on WIndows boxes), Kerberos (for single sign on) or LDAP against AD - all work very nicely for AD integration and authentication.

(I'd steer clear of Sharepoint - it seems that once your data's in there, you'll never get it out alive, regardless of what MS were spinning last week.)

Finally, I never use .htaccess files for permissions - that always sounded hacky when there's a perfectly good configuration file per site where you can set all the permissions up in one place.

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Memory usage

I haven't had a chance to use release version yet but release candidate had Themes on by default and after startup took 300MB of memory. Without any apps running.

Unless they cut that a little, unix with simply take Windows space on virtual servers as it uses much less resources and has much better memory management.

Just my 2p.

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Coat

.htaccess?

Hmm - can't remember when I last played round with stuff in the .htaccess files. With Apache2's sites-available and sites-enabled directories (and mods-available and mods-enabled) its very easy to keep track of things and to play around with your configuration for one site without breaking things for others.

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Boffin

htaccess

"Per-directory configuration files in IIS should perform better then (sic) .htaccess files in Apache"

Using .htaccess in Apache is very old-skool now, and no longer recommended practice.

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Paris Hilton

Netcraft ?

How come since IIS has started to catch up that everyone is in search of "meaningful data" when the raw netcraft stuff has been accepted for years ?

Paris is probably hosted on Apache, or sumfink.

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Stop

Give up and get with the program, MS

So MS has taken 5 years to make their server OS a little more like Linux?

Why don't they go the whole hog, and build a Microsoft distribution of Linux. They can charge the same as they do now - the "Microsoft Shop" customers who haven't migrated to Linux already will continue to pay them (the GPL says you have to provide source code, not that you can't charge for it), and the customers will get a mature and stable platform. Oh wait... silly me, it's not about the customers, is it?

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Stop

We're sorry, we're unable to service your request!

Good to see that Microsoft can't even get this web page to work on Windows Server 2008 launch day! tut tut tut

www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/

Oh well, did we expect anything less?

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re .htaccess

Re .htaccess - that's the point, really. IIS 7 is meant to have the convenience of .htaccess without the perf. penalty.

Tim

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Bronze badge

Long time coming

But credit where it's due hopefully.

How nice to have a simple server from MS, although as already mentioned, seems a shame you can't add to it once you've chosen its role.

Still, a step in the right direction.

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Linux

Are they totally insane?

All right, sure, making Server 2008 less Windows-like and more Unix-like is a good step. But who is stupid/crazy/lazy enough to try to use a Windows server to try (and fail) to emulate a LAMP server, when (1) Windows costs infinitely more in dollars, blood, sweat, and tears, and (2) Windows is less stable an less secure by orders of magnitude?

And those who really want to can build a WAMP stack. It's already freely available and ready to roll out (although having tried both WAMP and LAMP on the same hardware, I'd have to question the logic of devoting 80% of your server resources to drawing the desktop).

As for .htaccess - I honestly can't remember the last time I edited one. That's what virtual hosting systems do *for* you.

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IT Angle

All this config file stuff...

I'm a Windows hack - I'll admit it. It hasn't stopped me wanting to learn to use Linux more proficiently though.

Despite disliking WIndows for all the reasons that things like LAMP are a great solution, I can't get past the fact that getting linux ready to use and actually using it are much more laborious processes. For someone that's spent years in IT and therefore not totally daft when it comes to computers, I find this whole 'choose the correct version for you distribution' followed by having to sudo to run the damned thing (because it's not politic to run as root) and type in some massive command line is all really unnecessary. Computers were designed to make life easier not harder. I will not deny the massive performance, security benefits etc. However this seemingly rigid elitist 'do it all in textedit' approach is frustrating. Why no MMC in linux or an equivalent out of the box? Why force yourself to trawl through lines of config files when it could all be laid out in a well-flowing console? Things like webmin and phpmyadmin are made to make management easier (once you get them installed) so why not make linux easier in the first place? Maybe I've missed a trick but if so, it wasn't easy to find. At least in IIS I can right click and get straight to the properties of a particular website. I think what I'm getting at is that Windows has many faults but its also very easy to miss the fact that it has been made more user-friendly at a faster rate than Linux ever has.

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Coat

P.S.

To quote from the XAMPP website:

Many people know from their own experience that it's not easy to install an Apache web server and it gets harder if you want to add MySQL, PHP and Perl.

Now compare that to installing a Windows/IIS/MSSQL/ASP.NET server. OK there's a cost for licenses but are you getting what you paid for?!

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Rui
IT Angle

Point?

I think you're missing the point here...

We're talking about a Server... Not a gaming PC for the common user. It's not supposed to be "easy to install". It's supposed to be efficient and cheap.

Since windows can't really answer these last two... I guess you have to stick with the bright colorful screens with next and cancel buttons.

And the "illusion" of current IIS success is due to the (MS forced) inability of .NET _fully_ running on any other platform other than Windows/IIS.

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Paris Hilton

@Rui

I think you're confusing what *you* want a server to be with what other people might want it to be. Cheap and efficient are nice, but there are other factors which *in a given situation* might over-ride these - lower admin overhead, current skills set, existing infrastructure - you name it.

Case in point - I'm involved in a project putting lots of servers out at small sites to do some network monitoring - MRTG, NTOP, web caching, DNS, file storage, print serving - the gubbins. Clients are Windows 2K/XP and will have to remain so because of some of the software they're running, and because with our support ratios we need tools like SMS to manage stuff. I built identical servers on both Linux+Samba and W2K3. W2K3 won, even with the licencing cost. The reason was simply that the W2K3 version, *with our current skills set*, was far easier to manage, troubleshoot, configure and implement. It was also slightly faster on file and a lot faster on print, on comparable hardware. That's real world, neither MS evangelist nor Linux evangelist.

It is time for the OS wars protagonists to grow the hell up. There is no "best" for everything. It's not even as if one platform is *always* the best for a given application. There are too many other factors to consider.

If you want my prediction (and who would), I think MS is going to get friendlier towards Linux (we've already seen this with the MS/NetWare deal). MS know what I've said above, and they know that savvy engineers will want to use a mixture of stuff according to requirements. The better their stuff integrates with other peoples', the better they can maintain a position in the server room. The are, I think, beginning to realise that their dream of a world of MS only shops just ain't going to happen.

Paris, because she is too thick to get involved in OS wars, as opposed to those who are clever enough to do so, but not clever enough to see the silly tribalism for what it is.

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Anonymous Coward

@Richard Williams

"followed by having to sudo to run the damned thing (because it's not politic to run as root)"

Nothing to do with politics - it's just a very sensible thing to do, protecting the user from themselves.

Incidentally, you might not know that you can modify the "sudoers" file with "visudo" so that you don't have to enter a password for sudo - for selected commands or for everything. It's all been thought about.

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RE: Point?

"We're talking about a Server... Not a gaming PC for the common user. It's not supposed to be "easy to install". It's supposed to be efficient and cheap."

Erm, why? The harder it is to install/support, the more you have to pay skilled people to do it. Everything about computers IS meant to be easy - it's the whole point of doing it in the first place, to make lives easier. Usually a point that seems to be missed by us techies who seem to relish in having difficult tasks and problems to solve.

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OS wars? Nooo..

KarlTh:

A server is generically there to provide data in the most efficient way. Yes, Windows does have some Pros to it (hey, I use a fair variety of OSs.. Windows, Linux, Solaris, a BSD box or two, Novell Netware, so I'm definitely not an "OS War Fanboy", as each has it's place.).

What a server *should* do is be efficient at it's job. Require minimal resource at a terminal (that only interferes with it doing it's job), be easy to remotely reconfigure in large numbers, with minimal downtime.

What you're confusing here is what a server *should* be, with what skills you have.

Going back to daft 'car' analogies, you're advocating using a motorbike for carrying a family of 4 around, simply because you only have a motorbike license.

What *you* should be doing is extending the available skillset to cover all systems competently, so you can indeed leverage the correct OS, and also identify which one is best for the task.

Too much of this "Holy War" is down to people having one skillset, being comfortable with it, and thus deeming anything else too cumbersome.

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RE: Point? (The mind boggles!)

"Erm, why? The harder it is to install/support, the more you have to pay skilled people to do it."

Errr.. The whole point of running servers is that *You Know What You're Doing*. And I don't mean clicking a few buttons while the machine is working OK. I mean at a low level, enough to understand what it's really doing, the demands on it, how it handles security, locking, IO at the physical level, how the task loading has an effect on cache, what the buffers are doing, what RAID is the best to use in a given scenario (and how to balance array types on a server).

When everything's working just fine, everybody believes they're an expert by clicking the buttons that the manual tells you about. When it starts to get arbitrary occasional failures seemingly randomly, and you DO NOT have the option to just rebuild it and hope, THEN you understand why you pay admins good money, because they know where to look, and how to bring this back on it's feet.

You pay what you consider your data is worth. If it's not worth getting someone who REALLY knows their stuff, then it's not worth much at all. Don't cry when you lose service.

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@julien

That approach is fine. The problem is that sometimes the time required for the support team to gain the skills required for a given technology does not fit within the timescale of the deployment required for a project. Again, it's real world against theory.

So I am not advocating using a motorbike to do a car's job. What I am advocating is using petrol cars over deisel when I have lots of petrol available and the deisel won't be delivered for another month, and I need to get into town tomorrow.

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IT Angle

@ KarlTh

KarlTh, I couldn't agree more with your comments.

I would love to learn Linux and implement it for certain situations in our business. The problem is, they use MS and I was hired to manage this.

It doesn't matter if Linux has an improvement with performance or better security. It's all down to training and learning and ease of use.

They would be foolish to install Linux because:

1. I would cost more and if i ever left it would be harder to find a replacement

2. Training costs money and time

3. Cost of changing over to Linux

4. Other delegated users who might usually make changes them would now no longer know how. More training, more time off, increase in wages, etc etc.

5. Our MS licenses are already free (Partner)

If anyone does reply to this, please don't say 'but! but! moving to linux will be cheaper in the long run due to less security/more performance', because if the costs are currently OK, no one cares.

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Gates Horns

@Greg Fawcett

"Why don't they go the whole hog, and build a Microsoft distribution of Linux"

They already have its called Xandros, TurboLinux, Novell Suse + all the other distros that have succumbed to MS patent protection racket.

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Linux

@ Richard Williams

If you learn how to use the TAB key correctly when bashing the shell and learn to use grep and vi properly then I promise you command line editing is faster than using a mouse and GUI for everything except writing config files.

Checking, restarting services, disk and user information, running processes, finding files adding user accounts, adding aliases etc, etc. all only require simple fast manipulation of single command lines.

You also then have the added benefit of understanding at base level how the system works. A GUI obviously blocks you from seeing the underlying workings. I wouldn't want to have a sysadmin (or to be a sysadmin) that doesn't have this experience. You need to know what to do when the "Front End" breaks.

If the only way you know how to administrate a server is via Windows start menu, you could end up in a lot of trouble couldn't you. You could argue that knowing how to administrate a GUI isn't knowing how to administrate the system at all. (Sorry bit harsh that. ;)

Plus for day to day tasks that require writing large repetitive and boring configuration of files like 'apache2.conf' use Webmin ( http://www.webmin.com ) Best *nix web interface ever and it runs on Windows as well.

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Boffin

The problem...

The problem with having a server that even an idiot can install, is that you get servers installed by idiots.

I love well-designed GUIs, but for quick work I just want to copy out a few config files prepared earlier. When something bad happens to my server (disks have not the Life Eternal), or I want to make sure that Web Server 2 does exactly the same as Web Server 1, then a point-and-drool interface is the worst thing to have.

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@tardigrade

Absolutely, and I use the command line extensively in both Linux and Windows. But I'm the Windows specialist in our shop; if I'm not here then the Padawan has to do the best he can, and he can better find his way around using the GUIs. In an ideal world there are enough gurus on any technology to be there all the time, but this isn't an ideal world. GUIs are indeed more limiting, *but* they have the advantage that you can look around and see what options you have. In Command Line world, you have to already know that. Yes, I also know about man files and so on, but IME the old joke "Recursion: See 'Recursion'" was just made for Linux documentation ;)

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Happy

War huh! what is it good for!

Excellent - I'd hoped my post would generate some interesting replies so thanks to all. Both interesting and stuff to learn from. However, with people's brains being a massive overhead I still hold that a server should be easy to install and configure as well as efficient - surely that should go hand in hand? I mean, often someone's paying for my time... Why write stuff like Plesk and WHM for ISP's otherwise if it was enough for Linux to be 'efficient'.

I think a more config-file oriented approach a la linux is good to get real granular control - something windows lacks (for now?) - but for quick common functions and flow/layout a GUI is indispensable and I'd argue better for not missing lines in config files sometimes. Not always NECESSARY, but useful at times.

Just because Idiots CAN install servers doesn't mean they should. You should meet the guy who just 'fixed' my car... Making it easier for professionals to get on with their job is no bad thing though.

Oh and tardigrade - fair point, but yes I can use the windows recovery console - I started out on DOS pre WIndows 3.0 :)

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