A client has a couple dozen WXP clients accessing a file server. The scheduling/billing/tracking software uses a flat file database on the shared folder. Since there are more than 9 clients, you can not use XP to host the files. It runs Windows Server 2003 SBS.
It became necessary to upgrade the hard drives so I decided to install from scratch and configure it bare bones. Unneeded services are not installed, or turned off. It is now pretty snappy, compared to the original factory install. Still, I was curious, wondered how it would compare to a Linux setup. A 2G partition which I had used for the hard drive install was available and perfect for a quickie test. In less than an hour I had an up to date (net install) samba server and dual boot configured. It includes the time to download and burn the install disc. This compares very favorably to the many hours it took to install, configure and bring W2K3 up to date.
Some numbers to compare:
Install size: <900MB >8GB
Initial memory usage: 16M RAM/0 swap 300M RAM/200 swap
BIOS to login promt: 15 s 120 s
Login to stabilized: 0.4 s 50 s
Yes, I know, it's not a fair comparison. The Linux machine doesn't load all that GUI goodness. Nor does it need it, sitting tucked away in a small, dark room.
Next, I hooked up an XP client and did some more tests:
Time to load main network application: 7 s 11 s
Time to copy folder with 1.36GB of mixed content: 300 s 376 s
There are performance gains to be had by running a server with only the apps it needs.
Finally, the cost comparison:
W2K3 SBS plus 20 Client Access Licenses: $ 1400.00
Linux: $ 0.20 (cost of blank CD).
I am going to keep the Linux option and run some more test in a live environment. When the time comes to replace the machine, I am hoping to be able to offer the boss some significant savings.