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King of the network working systems

COMPUTINGFrom...Network World Fusion networking

January 24, 2000Web posted at: 12:11 p.m. EST (1711 GMT)

via John Bass and James Robinson, network World verify Alliance

(IDG) -- all of it boils right down to what you're looking for in a community operating system (NOS).

Do you want it lean and flexible so you can set up it any manner you please? in all probability administration bells and administration whistles are what you need so that you can deploy a couple of hundred servers. Or probably you need an working system it truly is robust adequate in order that you sleep like a baby at night?

The respectable information is that there's a NOS waiting just for you. After the rash of fresh application revisions, they took an in-depth examine four of the main NOSes on the market: Microsoft's windows 2000 advanced Server, Novell's NetWare 5.1, pink Hat application's Linux 6.1 and The Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO) UnixWare 7.1.1. sun declined their invitation to post Solaris since the business says it be engaged on a new edition.

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

however, if or not it's performance you are after, no product got here close to Novell's NetWare 5.1's numbers in their exhaustive file service and network benchmarks. With its lightning-fast engine and Novell's directory-based administration, NetWare presents a pretty good base for an commercial enterprise community.

We discovered the latest release of crimson Hat's business Linux bundle led the record for flexibility as a result of its modular design lets you pare down the operating gadget to suit the assignment at hand. additionally, you can create scripts out of dissimilar Linux commands to automate tasks throughout a distributed atmosphere.

whereas SCO's UnixWare seemed to lag in the back of the pack when it comes to file carrier efficiency and NOS-based administration elements, its scalability aspects make it a robust candidate for running commercial enterprise purposes.

The numbers are in

regardless of the job you saddle your server with, it has to function well at studying and writing information and sending them throughout the network. They designed two benchmark suites to measure each NOS in these two categories. To mirror the precise world, their benchmark assessments accept as true with a wide array of server conditions.

NetWare became the arms-down leader in their performance benchmarking, taking first location in two-thirds of the file checks and incomes correct billing within the network tests.

pink Hat Linux followed NetWare in file efficiency usual and even outpaced the leader in file tests the place the read/write loads were small. youngsters, Linux didn't function smartly dealing with tremendous loads - those exams in which there have been greater than 100 clients. beneath heavier person hundreds, Linux had a tendency to stop servicing file requests for a short duration and then beginning up again.

windows 2000 confirmed negative write performance throughout all their file tests. actually, they discovered that its write efficiency became about 10% of its read performance. After consulting with each Microsoft and customer/Server options, the creator of the Benchmark manufacturing facility checking out device they used, they determined that the poor write performance may be due to two elements. One, which they have been unable to check, might be a probable efficiency problem with the SCSI driver for the hardware they used.

extra massive, notwithstanding, changed into an argument with their look at various software. Benchmark factory sends a write-via flag in each of its write requests that is supposed to cause the server to replace cache, if applicable, and then force a write to disk. When the write to disk occurs, the write name is released and the subsequent request will also be sent.

at the start glance, it regarded as if home windows 2000 was the simplest operating equipment to honor this write-via flag as a result of its write efficiency become so terrible. therefore, they ran a 2d round of write assessments with the flag grew to become off.

With the flag became off, NetWare's write performance accelerated by way of 30%. This look at various proved that Novell does certainly honor the write-via flag and should write to disk for each and every write request when that flag is set. however when the write-through flag is disabled, NetWare writes to disk in a extra effective manner by means of batching collectively contiguous blocks of records on the cache and writing all those blocks to disk at once.

Likewise, crimson Hat Linux's efficiency multiplied by 10% to 15% when the write-through flag was turned off. when they examined the Samba file gadget code, they discovered that it too honors the write-through flag. The Samba code then finds an finest time all the way through the examine/write sequence to jot down to disk.

This second round of file testing proves that home windows 2000 is dependent on its file gadget cache to optimize write efficiency. The results of the testing with the write-via flag off have been a whole lot bigger - as a whole lot as 20 times faster. however, windows 2000 still fell behind both NetWare and RedHat Linux within the file write checks when the write-through flag changed into off.

SCO honors the write-through flag by default, in view that its journaling file system is built to maximize data integrity with the aid of writing to disk for all write requests. The effects within the write checks with the write-via flag on have been very corresponding to the verify consequences with the write-via flag became off.

For the community benchmark, they developed two tests. Their lengthy TCP transaction examine measured the bandwidth each and every server can sustain, while their brief TCP transaction verify measured every server's means to handle gigantic numbers of community periods with small file transactions.

regardless of a terrible showing within the file benchmark, home windows 2000 came out on top in the long TCP transaction examine. windows 2000 is the best NOS with a multithreaded IP stack, which permits it to deal with community requests with assorted processors. Novell and pink Hat say they're working on integrating this means into their items.

NetWare and Linux also registered strong long TCP look at various results, coming in second and third, respectively.

in the brief TCP transaction look at various, NetWare got here out the clear winner. Linux earned second area inspite of its lack of assist for abortive TCP closes, a method through which an operating equipment can straight away tear down TCP connections. Their trying out software, Ganymede application's Chariot, uses abortive closes in its TCP exams.

entering into management

As commercial enterprise networks grow to require more servers and aid extra end clients, NOS management equipment turn into essential points in protecting networks under manage. They regarded on the management interfaces of each and every product and drilled down into how every handled server monitoring, customer administration, file and print administration, and storage management.

We found windows 2000 and NetWare supply equally helpful management interfaces.

Microsoft administration Console (MMC) is the glue that holds most of the home windows 2000 management functionality together. This configurable graphical person interface (GUI) allows you to snap in Microsoft and third-birthday celebration applets that personalize its functionality. or not it's a two-paned interface, a good deal like windows Explorer, with a nested list on the left and choice details on the correct. The console is effortless to make use of and lets you configure many native server elements, including users, disks, and device settings similar to time and date.

MMC also allows you to put in force administration policies for companies of clients and computers the usage of active listing, Microsoft's new directory provider. From the lively directory administration device internal MMC, you could configure clients and change policies.

The community configuration tools are present in a separate software that opens should you click on the community areas icon on the computing device. each and every network interface is listed inside this window. which you could add and change protocols and configure, enable and disable interfaces from right here without rebooting.

NetWare offers several interfaces for server configuration and management. These equipment offer reproduction functionality, but each is valuable based from the place you are trying to manage the system. The equipment Console offers a few tools for server configuration. one of the vital constructive is NWConfig, which permits you to alternate beginning-up info, deploy device modules and configure the storage subsystem. NWConfig is basic, intuitive and predictable.

ConsoleOne is a Java-based mostly interface with just a few graphical tools for managing and configuring NetWare. Third-celebration administration tools can plug into ConsoleOne and help you control numerous features. They think ConsoleOne's interface is a little unsophisticated, however works smartly ample for those who ought to have a windows- primarily based supervisor.

Novell also presents a web-purchasable administration application called NetWare administration Portal, which means that you can manipulate NetWare servers remotely from a browser, and NWAdmin32, a relatively standard client-aspect tool for administering Novell listing features (NDS) from a home windows ninety five, 98 or NT client.

purple Hat's universal programs administration interface is referred to as LinuxConf and might run as a graphical or textual content-based utility. The graphical interface, which resembles that of MMC, works well but has some design issues that make it complex to make use of now and then. as an instance, if you run a setup application that takes up loads of the reveal, the equipment resizes the software better than the desktop dimension.

still, that you can control relatively a great deal anything on the server from LinuxConf, and you'll use it in the neighborhood or remotely over the internet or by means of telnet. that you would be able to configure system parameters comparable to network addresses; file gadget settings and person money owed; and deploy add-on capabilities such as Samba - which is a service that lets windows consumers get to files residing on a Linux server - and FTP and net servers. that you could apply changes without rebooting the device.

common, purple Hat's interface is useful and the underlying tools are powerful and flexible, however LinuxConf lacks the polish of the other carriers' tools.

SCO Admin is a GUI-based mostly entrance end for approximately 50 SCO UnixWare configuration and administration tools in a single window. in case you click on a device, it brings up the software to manage that merchandise in a separate window.

a few of SCO's tools are GUI-primarily based whereas others are textual content-based mostly. The server required a reboot to apply lots of the changes. On the plus aspect, that you would be able to manage varied UnixWare servers from SCOAdmin.

SCO also presents a beneficial Java-based faraway administration tool known as WebTop that works out of your browser.

a watch on the servers and purchasers

One crucial administration task is monitoring the server itself. Microsoft leads the pack in how well that you would be able to retain an eye in your server's internals.

The home windows 2000 device video display allows you to view a real-time, operating graph of gadget operations, similar to CPU and network utilization, and reminiscence and disk utilization. They used these tools considerably to assess the effect of their benchmark assessments on the operating gadget. another device called community display screen has a simple community packet analyzer that lets you see the styles of packets coming into the server. collectively, these Microsoft utilities can be used to compare efficiency and capability across distinctive home windows 2000 servers.

NetWare's display screen utility shows processor utilization, reminiscence utilization and buffer utilization on a native server. if you comprehend what to search for, it will also be a powerful tool for diagnosing bottlenecks in the equipment. getting to know the that means of every of the monitored parameters is just a little of a challenge, although.

if you need to look at performance information throughout assorted servers, which you can faucet into Novell's net management Portal.

red Hat offers the common Linux command-line equipment for monitoring the server, corresponding to iostat and vmstat. It has no graphical monitoring tools.

as with all Unix working system, that you can write scripts to automate these equipment across Linux servers. although, these tools are customarily cryptic and require a excessive level of talent to use without problems. a suite of graphical monitoring equipment can be a superb addition to pink Hat's Linux distribution.

UnixWare additionally presents a number of monitoring tools. gadget monitor is UnixWare's elementary but restrained GUI for monitoring processor and reminiscence utilization. The sar and rtpm command-line tools collectively record precise-time device utilization of buffer, CPUs and disks. together, these equipment offer you an excellent average theory of the load on the server.

client administration

together with managing the server, you ought to manipulate its clients. it's no shock that the two NOSes that ship with an integrated directory service topped the box in customer administration tools.

We had been in a position to configure user permissions by means of Microsoft's energetic directory and the directory administration device in MMC. you could group clients and computer systems into organizational contraptions and practice policies to them.

that you can manipulate Novell's NDS and NetWare shoppers with ConsoleOne, NWAdmin or NetWare administration Portal. each and every can create users, control file house, and set permissions and rights. moreover, NetWare ships with a 5-person version of Novell's ZENworks tool, which offers computer administration features corresponding to hardware and application stock, software distribution and far off handle features.

pink Hat Linux would not offer lots within the method of client administration elements. You must handle native clients through Unix permission configuration mechanisms.

UnixWare is akin to red Hat Linux in terms of customer administration, but SCO gives some windows binaries on the server to remotely set file and listing permissions from a windows client, as well as create and change users and their settings. SCO and purple Hat offer aid for the Unix-based mostly community information carrier (NIS). NIS is a shop for community suggestions like logon names, passwords and home directories. This integration helps with customer administration.

coping with the staples: File and print

A NOS is nothing with out the skill to share file storage and printers. Novell and Microsoft accrued exact honors in these areas.

which you could comfortably add and maintain printers in home windows 2000 using the print administration wizard, and you'll add file shares the use of active directory administration tools. home windows 2000 additionally presents distributed File features, which help you mix data on more than one server into a single share.

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

You outline NetWare file functions through creating and then mounting a disk quantity, which also manages quantity guidelines.

pink Hat comprises Linux's printtool utility for establishing server-connected and networks printers. that you may additionally use this GUI to create printcap entries to define printer entry.

Linux has a collection of command-line file gadget configuration tools for mounting and unmounting partitions. Samba ships with the product and provides some integration for windows purchasers. which you could configure Samba only via a cryptic configuration ASCII file - a significant disadvantage.

UnixWare gives a flexible GUI-primarily based printer setup device known as Printer SetUp supervisor. For file and extent management, SCO offers a tool known as VisionFS for interoperability with home windows purchasers. They used VisionFS to allow their NT shoppers to entry the UnixWare server. This service became handy to configure and use.

Storage management

windows 2000 gives the best equipment for storage management. Its graphical manipulate Disks tool for local disk configuration contains application RAID administration; you can dynamically add disks to a volume set while not having to reboot the device. moreover, a signature is written to each and every of the disks in an array so that they may also be moved to an extra 2000 server while not having to configure the quantity on the new server. the new server acknowledges the drives as contributors of a RAID set and provides the volume to the file device dynamically.

NetWare's quantity management tool, NWConfig, is effortless to make use of, however it will also be a bit complicated to deploy a RAID quantity. once they knew what they were doing, they had no problems formatting drives and making a RAID extent. The device appears a little primitive, however they give it excessive marks for functionality and ease of use.

red 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 extent supervisor graphical disk and volume administration tool that ships with UnixWare. They had some issues at the beginning getting the device to appreciate the drives so that they could be formatted. They managed to work around the disk configuration problem using an assortment of command line tools, after which quantity manager worked well.


while they did not probe these NOSes extensively to reveal any protection weaknesses, they did examine what they offered in protection aspects.

Microsoft has made giant strides with home windows 2000 safety. windows 2000 helps Kerberos public key certificates as its primary authentication mechanism within a domain, and allows further authentication with smart cards. Microsoft gives a security Configuration tool that integrates with MMC for handy management of safety objects in the lively listing functions system, and a new Encrypting File gadget that means that you can designate volumes on which info are immediately saved the usage of encryption.

Novell brought aid for a public-key infrastructure into NetWare 5 using a public certificates schema developed with the aid of RSA security that permits you to tap into NDS to generate certificates.

purple Hat offers a simple Kerberos authentication mechanism. With pink Hat Linux, as with most Unix operating programs, the community functions can also be in my opinion managed to increase security. crimson Hat offers Pluggable Authentication Modules as a way of allowing you to set authentication guidelines across classes operating on the server. Passwords are included with a shadow file. pink Hat additionally bundles firewall and VPN services.

UnixWare has a collection of security equipment called protection supervisor that lets you deploy various levels of intrusion insurance plan throughout your community functions, from no restrict to turning all community functions off. it's a very good administration time saver, although you could manually modify the features to achieve the same effect.

balance and fault tolerance

the most feature-rich NOS is of little value if it can not preserve a server up and working. windows 2000 offers application RAID 0, 1 and 5 configurations to supply fault tolerance for onboard disk drives, and has a constructed-in network load-balancing feature that allows for a bunch of servers to seem like one server and share the same network identify and IP tackle. The group decides which server will provider every request. This now not simplest distributes the network load across a few servers, it also offers fault tolerance in case a server goes down. On a lesser scale, which you could use Microsoft's Failover Clustering to provide simple failover services between two servers.

As with NT four.0, home windows 2000 offers reminiscence protection, which skill that each process runs in its personal phase.

There are also backup and restoration capabilities bundled with windows 2000.

Novell has an add-on product for NetWare referred to as Novell Cluster functions that permits you to cluster as many as eight servers, all managed from one region using ConsoleOne, NetWare administration Portal or NWAdmin32. however Novell presently presents no clustering items to deliver load balancing for applications or file services. NetWare has an difficult memory insurance plan scheme to segregate the reminiscence used for the kernel and functions, and a Storage administration functions module to supply a highly bendy backup and restoration facility. Backups can be all-inclusive, cowl parts of a quantity or save a differential photo.

pink Hat provides a load-balancing product known as piranha with its Linux. This equipment gives TCP load balancing between servers in a cluster. There is no hard limit to the variety of servers you could configure in a cluster. red Hat Linux additionally offers software RAID help through command line tools, has reminiscence insurance policy capabilities and provides a rudimentary backup facility.

SCO provides an optional characteristic to cluster several servers in a load-balancing atmosphere with continuous Clustering for a high degree of fault-tolerance. currently, non-stop Clustering supports six servers in a cluster. UnixWare provides utility RAID aid it truly is managed the usage of SCO's online facts manager feature. all of the normal RAID levels are supported. computing device buddies' bundled ArcServeIT 6.6 offers backup and restoration capabilities. UnixWare has memory protection capabilities.


as a result of their testing became carried out earlier than windows 2000's conventional availability ship date, they were now not able to consider its difficult-replica documentation. The on-line documentation supplied on a CD is wide, constructive and smartly-equipped, besides the fact that children a web interface would be a lot less complicated to make use of if it gave greater than a couple of sentences at a time for a specific aid topic.

NetWare 5 comes with two manuals: a detailed guide for installing and configuring the NOS with good explanations of ideas and lines together with an overview of how to configure them, and a small spiral-sure booklet of quick beginning playing cards. Novell's online documentation is awfully advantageous.

crimson Hat Linux comes with three manuals - an setting up e book, a getting all started e-book and a reference guide - all of which are handy to observe.

despite being probably the most intricate product to installation, UnixWare offers the gold standard documentation. It comes with two manuals: a equipment handbook and a getting all started e book. The device handbook is a reference for conducting the installing of the working equipment. It does a pretty good job of reflecting this painful experience. The getting began ebook is well-written and neatly-organized. It covers many of the tools needed to configure and keep the operating equipment. SCO's online documentation looks first-rate and is easy to observe.

Wrapping up

The base line is that these NOSes offer a wide range of qualities and provide enterprise valued clientele with a superb deal of choice concerning how each can be used in any given company community.

if you want a pretty good, normal goal NOS that can deliver enterprise-category services with all the bells and whistles possible, then windows 2000 is the strongest contender. however, for prime efficiency, business file and print functions, their tests show that Novell leads the pack. when you are willing to pay a better fee for scalability and reliability, SCO UnixWare would be a secure guess. but when you want a reasonable option that will offer you bare-bones network capabilities with first rate performance, purple Hat Linux can actually healthy the invoice.

The option is yours.

Bass is the technical director and Robinson is a senior technical team of workers member at Centennial Networking Labs (CNL) at North Carolina State college in Raleigh. CNL focuses on efficiency, capability and contours of networking and server technologies and equipment.

related stories:

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

linked IDG.internet reports:

Fusion's discussion board: square off with the carriers over who has the superior NOS(community World Fusion)How they did it: particulars of the checking out(community World Fusion)find out the tuning parameters(network World Fusion)download the Config information(network World Fusion)The Shootout outcomes(community World Fusion)Fusion's NOS supplies(community World Fusion)With windows 2000, NT grows up(network World Fusion)Fireworks anticipated at NOS showdown(network World Fusion)

note: Pages will open in a brand new browser window

external websites are not counseled with the aid of CNN Interactive. related sites:

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

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