Help! Windows NT server vs. UNIX/Linux server

Mark Ellis mark.ellis at
Thu Feb 8 21:01:30 EST 1996

NT is a perfectly good platform for a web server, particularly for someone
who is already familiar with Windows.

To be fair, what Unix advocates have to say about their systems is largely
true--they are usually faster on equivalent hardware, have a wealth of
tools and are proven.

That said, however, NT and Mac based servers are fast enough, have plenty
of tools and are proving to be more than adequate for most tasks.

Here are some advantages to using NT:

Cost -- It runs on inexpensive, ubiquitous hardware. The Workstation
version, which is fine for a web server costs a few hundred dollars--more
than Linux, of course, but you'll recoup the difference during the first
week in time saved.  The servers are a few hundred dollars at most. Some
may be given away to libraries and educational institutions.

Performance -- Good enough to fill a T1 line with a single Pentium based
server.  You'll have to have pretty compelling content to generate that
kind of load.

Simplicity --  Document creation will be harder than setting up either the
OS or the server.  Expect online help, tabbed dialogs, etc.  The
documentation won't assume you're a propellor-head. Having a server up in
less than half an hour with sample documents wouldn't be unexpected.

Convenience -- You can a share your document tree on a network and do your
HTML in any Windows based editor--no need to telnet and use vi. :-)

Tools -- Perl, TCL, Delphi, Visual Basic, C++, etc.  Many commercial and
freeware stats programs--eg. wwwusage.

A Pentium Pro is massive overkill.  A 120MHz Pentium with 32MB of RAM would
be quite adequate. Lots of RAM will often make more difference than a
faster CPU.  Frequently requested files don't have to be fetched from disk
that way.

We use:

486DX4-100 with 32MB of RAM
O'Reilly's WebSite server
NT (server version in order to get AppleTalk file services)

This machine also runs a name server and SMTP/POP mail.

We ran NCSA's httpd on Unix for a year before switching to NT last year.

Finally, to assuage any platform fanatics--Unix is great, Macs are great,
NT is great--and I'm sure Amigas are too, but I've never tried one.
<dousing any embers that might erupt into flames>

>I'm posting this as an appeal for help. Our library is proposing a city web
>site to be set up and housed in the library. Our next meeting is next Friday
>(Feb. 16). At this meeting, we would like to have a solid proposal on hardware
>and software costs to give to the group (who hopefully will help contribute to
>the cost of the server). I have proposed a Windows NT operating system running
>on a Pentium Pro at either 150 Mhz or 200 Mhz with a 2 GB hard drive.
>I know that UNIX is more robust, but here is my rationale:
>I am the systems department. I most likely will be the webmaster. My expertise
>centers in the DOS/Windows environment. My UNIX experience is VERY limited and
>is limited to ftp and gopher applications and assigning privileges.
>Can some of you who have been through this process send me some solid facts of
>why Windows NT would be best for our operation? We want ease of use,
>maintenance, and implementation. If I am out of line with my assumption, I'd
>like reasons why.
>Thanks for the help!
>Karen Perone                  kperone at
>Systems Coordinator
>Rodman Public Library         voice: 216-821-2665
>215 E. Broadway Street
>Alliance, OH 44601            fax: 216-821-5053

Mark Ellis
Computer Services Technician            Phone: 604.231.6410
Richmond Public Library                 Email: mark.ellis at
Richmond, British Columbia

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