Big Features in a Basic Linux Server

by Don Marti

In the new PowerEdge 1600SC, Dell is putting the same manageabilty features into small business servers as have been available at the upper end of the company's server range, said Russ Ray, senior product marketing manager for Dell PowerEdge servers.

The 1600SC, billed as a "scalable workgroup server", has standard dual Intel Pentium 4 Xeon processors, a ServerWorks GC-SL chipset, a one gigabit Ethernet interface and an LSI Ultra320 SCSI chipset. Hardware RAID and hot-swap power supplies are options. It accommodates up to 438GB of SCSI drives and 4GB of DDR RAM, and prices start at $899.

Red Hat 7.3 is available pre-installed and supported. A trip through Dell's web site got us a quote of $2,943.00 for a decent configuration with Red Hat, 2 2.4GHz processors, 1GB of RAM, and two 18GB drives. Unfortunately, the web form made Microsoft Windows 2000 Server with five client licenses a highlighted and "Dell Recommended" default choice for $799, which could have been an expensive mistake.

Besides the evolutionary but rapid PC hardware improvements, the 1600SC offers PXE-based network management and an optional Dell Remote Access Card, which offer administrators access to the server whether it can boot or not. Linux professionals recognize this feature as important when one person must log in and recover a crashed server, while talking another person through any needed hardware fixes.

Ray said that Dell's attitude toward Linux support is changing: "The mindset originally was many of the Linux users are very independent. That's definitely migrated into more of a commercial offering of Linux. We are seeing more and more need to support Linux like we do all the other environments."

Linux customers aren't only large enterprises, clusters and web sites. "A lot of these medium [sized] businesses are heavy Linux users. Some of these guys are leaders in some of the Linux areas", he added. Dell also is offering professional services and training for small and medium business customers, Ray said.

"Standardization is what we're driving at across the board", Ray said. The 1600SC replaces two previous models, the 1400SC and 1500SC. "Regardless of what product you're buying now, the management story is very consistent", Ray said.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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