OT Comments -- Unix documentation / speed question

From: Roger Ivie <rivie_at_teraglobal.com>
Date: Wed Apr 12 12:13:19 2000

>Has anyone actually done an speed comparison between Linux, FreeBSD,
>and NetBSD?

I've not done anything official, but I do have a fileserver that I've
run under all
three operating systems at various times. The fileserver is a Pentium II 266
attached to a 45GB RAID. It speaks NFS, Samba, and AppleTalk.

I started with Linux. However, Linux fell over when the 45GB RAID got half
full; it panicked complaining that "the free list is corrupt". It
also did not allow
me to create files larger than 2GB.

I installed NetBSD because FreeBSD did not support the old piece of junk SCSI
controller I was using to get to my tape drives. NetBSD ran very well, but it
got swamped when there was a lot of traffic and started losing packets (it
would display an error message on the console, which I tracked into the source
to verify that the machine was unable to keep up with the traffic arriving over
the 100Mb ethernet port; basically, all of the receive buffers on the Ethernet
card filled up before NetBSD could drain them).

Along the way, I acquired a new SCSI card for the tape drives, which
was supported
by FreeBSD. However, since the machine was running well under NetBSD I left it
under NetBSD for a while. However, NetBSD had a problem with the second tape
drive; from time to time, the SCSI bus would hang talking to the
second tape drive
and I had to reboot the machine to regain the use of my tape drives.
I never did a
performance test between NetBSD and Linux; however, NetBSD allowed me to
entirely fill the RAID with a single 45GB file if I so chose.

I switched to FreeBSD when we moved into the new office, primarily to
get better
performance, but also in the hope that the problem with the tape drive would go
away. The performance is noticeably better; the machine has a bit of extra zip
that it didn't have under NetBSD. However, it still has the problem
with the second
tape drive. I've stopped using the tape drive until I get some time
to play with it
some more; I may wind up going back to the old piece of junk SCSI
controller, which
is now supported once again by FreeBSD as a quick hack to regain the
use of that

The primary problems I'm having with FreeBSD, in addition to the
second tape drive
problem, are that if there is not a tape in the drive and you try to
use it, the tape
utilities report that the drive is "not configured" rather than that
it is offline. That's
annoying, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. The
machine also
crashes once in awhile. We have a number of Macs attached by 155Mb
ATM through a
switch running LANE; when they are making heavy use of the server
(which is 100Mb
ethernet), the server will occasionally crash. Since I don't have a
printing console on
the thing (anyone know where I can get a new ribbon for an LA100?), I
can't see what
it prints when it panics; by the time I notice it's crashed, it's
already reset itself and
is starting to reboot. It's almost enough to make me think about
going back to NetBSD.

The versions of the various OSes that I've run the server have been:

Linux: RedHat 5.2
NetBSD: 1.4, possibly 1.4.1.
FreeBSD: currently at 3.4, but with a 3.2 userland (I upgraded the
kernel in the hope
that it would stop crashing. Nope. I've not had time to consider
moving it to 4.0; you
can't build a 4.0 kernel with the 3.2 userland, so I would have to
take it down and
completely reinstall it. I would be tempted to go back to NetBSD
rather than try 4.0).

Now that I've finally gotten around to sending SCO my $100, I suppose
I could try
2.11BSD when I get my 11/84 back in a running state. But A) this is
at work, and
B) 2.11BSD doesn't speak AppleTalk. At least, not yet.

Roger Ivie
Not speaking for TeraGlobal Communications Corporation
Received on Wed Apr 12 2000 - 12:13:19 BST

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