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Summary of preferable file server configurations

Following is a summary of responses I received to questions about the
most preferable file server configurations for Symbolics machines.  In
general, my questions were:

     1) What are the most preferable/popular configurations, in terms
        of performance and managability?

     2) What about non-Symbolics file servers, such as Suns or Vaxen, or
        even using a MacIvory as a file server?

The following responses were received:

     Rich Ragosa writes:


          We have 6 3600's here, and we use a VAX as our file server over
          DNA. The VAX we use is horribly overworked (it's a 750 with
          15-25 users), but we still get reasonable performance over the
          network. Symbolics DNA has it's problems, but they're usually
          related to error handling (i.e., if the file transfer fails,
          the normal behavoir is to drop you in the debugger). All in all,
          we're happy with our configuration.

     Charles Jankowski writes:

          We just got a Sun 4 that we're starting to store data on, so I 
          don't have much data to give you, but I know people at MIT who
          use a Sun 4 fileserver and ILA-NFS. Using NFS on the Symbolics,
          your MacIvories or whatever can mount remote systems, including 
          Suns and other Symbolics. We are going to do this, but haven't
          yet. In terms of speed of file access, the Sun 4 is sure faster,
          but I guess it depends on whether this is absolutely critical,
          whether you want to replace a symbolics which could be doing 
          some minimal work other than serving files with a Sun 4 server 
          (the big server 4/280 racks with 1/2" tape are ~$85000) that can 
          only do your file storage.


     Dan Cerys writes:

          We use two types of file servers.  We have a 3600 (now 3670) with
          bunches of assorted disks, 2 GB total.  This is great.  Ignoring 
          the maintenance costs, we are very satisfied with this server.
          It is fast and flexible (by definition handling all NFILE 

          The other type of server is a UNIX box running NFS with our 
          Symbolics machines running NFS.  This is also quite fast (after
          the initial access), perhaps faster than our 3600.  There were
          some parameters we had to tweak to get things working, but now it
          works almost as well as our Symbolics server.  Of course the big
          advantage is that we have dozens of SUNs with lots of disk
          capacity, all backed up by the computer center folks.

          Having only used a MacIvory as a client, I'm not sure, but would 
          guess that it would perform poorly as a file server.  The IO 
          access on this machine is relatively poor.  The XL400, on the 
          other hand, should be the best of the bunch (if you can justify
          such a speedy machine for a file server).

     William D. Gooch writes: 

          If you're going to use a MacI for file service, you should 
          invest in a faster Nubus disk interface card.  The native disk 
          interface is known to be quite slow, and disk i/o is the major 
          bottleneck in MacIvory systems.  

          Unfortunately, this means you'll be forced either to use only 8 
          Mbyte Nubus RAM for the Ivory (leading to increased paging), or to
          get a Nubus expansion chassis to hold more.  (This is in reference
          to a vanilla Mac II; if there are models with more Nubus slots,
          you'd be better off using one of them.)

Thanks to all who responded.


Rodney Daughtrey                    E-mail: rodney%huntsai@atc.boeing.com 
Boeing Computer Services            Voice:  (205)-461-2350
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