How much machine for an NFS server?

Todd Goodman tgoodman at
Tue Jan 9 03:50:44 AEST 1990

Hi everyone,

	I'm hoping that a lot of you have ideas or pointers for what I'm trying
to set up.

	What I'm trying to do is set up a network comprised of a 386 machine
running ESIX/V 3.2 Rev. C running mainly as a database server and five 286
machines running DOS which will access the database on the 386 and display
records from the DB.  I decided to go with a Unix O/S on the 386 because it will
need to be doing a couple of other things besides being just a file server.
These other applications running on the 386 that will not be very processor or
disk intensive compared to the DB server processes.  The 286 machines running
DOS is mainly a cost consideration.  If this setup won't work then I'll have
to devise something else.

	My questions are:

		1.  I was thinking of setting up the 286 machines as diskless
		workstations and booting across the ethernet.  I have heard
		that 3COM (I think) makes an ethernet controller that will
		allow this.  Is it possible to use ESIX NFS and PC-NFS in this
		manner to boot MS-DOS clients? Can anyone suggest a good NFS
		implementation for the 286 machines?

		2.  Given that the clients are up and running with mounted
		partitions from the server, I was planning to use a DB server
		on the 386 to grab requested records from the DB and put them
		in files for the clients to scarf off the mounted partitions.
		Is this a really gross idea?  Would I be better of canning
		the NFS and just using TCP to get the records?

		3.  Does anyone know what kind of a hardware configuration
		I'd need for the 386 to run as an NFS server for five clients?
		Ten clients?  I'm thinking of a 33Mhz 386 with cache (if it'll
		work with the ethernet board), an ESDI disk (or two), 8M of
		32 bit memory, and 16-bit VGA display.  Is this hopelessly
		underpowered?  Should that be 16M of memory?  Am I way out in
		left field on this one?

		4.  Would I be better off getting an MS-DOS X server and just
		running the 286 machines on the 386 where they could do the DB
		accesses themselves?  All the X servers I've seen are pretty
		slow, which would be unacceptable for this application.  Are
		there good X servers for MS-DOS that people would recommend?

		5.  If I go with the 286 machines running X servers then what
		would my recommended 386 config be?  Different from that
		proposed in number three above?  How about the 286 hardware

		6.  Can anyone recommend a good DB for an ESIX system?  I'm
		kind of partial to INGRES at this point, but certainly am open
		to suggestions.  I haven't looked into INGRES for ESIX yet so
		that may not even be an option.  The DB will need to be able to
		handle binary data.

	I realize that that many answers depend on the answers to the other
questions, but I'm just trying to get an idea right now from people who have
used a similar setup or who have some insight into possible problems.  I'd very
much appreciate even negative input (e.g., "You'll never get that kind of setup
to work.").

	As usual, I'll post a summary of any responses I receive.  Please tell
me if you DO NOT want your name or email address in the summary.

			Thank you very much,

				Todd Goodman
				(617) 873-3866 (8:30am - 6:00pm EST)
				(617) 489-5502 (All other times)
| Todd Goodman, BBN Communications, Inc.             tgoodman at         |
| Disclaimer: I never speak for anyone but myself.   uunet!bbn!tgoodman       |
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