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Windows Server 2008 Beta Test

Windows Server 2008 Beta Test

Postby Absolute-Zero » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:14 pm

I've been having a play around with a Virtual PC 2007 install of Windows Server 2008 Beta 3. Overall, I quite like it, but there are a few issues that have got my attention.

Primarily the beta version, at least, has a serious issue with memory. It either has problems with memory allocation and release or there's something in there with a severe memory leak. I've got the VM set up to use 896Mb of RAM. Once 2k8 has loaded, there's about 500Mb of this left, this is before installing any services that you may wish the server to have. In my example, I needed IIS and SQL as I would be using it to test some of our existing web applications under the new environments.

Once IIS and SQL 2005 were installed, available memory dropped into the region of 350Mb. Now SQL and IIS on there own do not take up this many resources, certainly not 150Mb! There were no sites configured under IIS and SQL had nothing more than the standard DB set that it installs with.

On more than one occasion during the process, available memory was completely used, slowing all operations to a crawl until adequate resources could be freed.

Now, I do understand that the situation may be somewhat different under a genuine, physical install rather than a Virtual PC environment but I still find that using the best part of 400Mb just on the Operating System is a little resource heavy. More worrying is the continued allocation of all available resources. Hopefully this will be sorted in the later releases as the code is optimised.

I'm not overly struck with the general look and feel of the OS. I know it's supposed to but, to me, it looks a little TOO much like Vista. I like server Operating Systems to be clean so you can find whatever utilities, services, etc, you're looking for without too much of a hunt. Server 2k8 feels like it's concentrating too much on the look of the OS rather than it's functionality. For example, all the icons are the typical, large ones same as Vista. Don't get me wrong, I like a flashy GUI as much as the next man but I don't feel they're required on a server system. Obviously, this can be rectified after installation and themes, etc, disabled but, again, I fell it would be more benficial to have the server default to the most basic settings and then let you activate whatever you liked.

IIS 7 is great. It has some excellent management features that save you having to wade through the pages of site properties you used to have to from with previous versions. Everything you can configure is available through individual selections on the management console, even to the point of being able to tweak the content of web.config files. It's also good for the developer in that, on older version of IIS, certain features (such as default documents) had to be configured from the management console. If the developer didn't have access to that, he would have to ask the Server Admin to set things up for him. In IIS 7, these options can be configured directly from within web.config so the developer has full control over the site themselves.

The Windows Firewall is configured to be on as standard, rather than there but not configured as it was in 2k3. As you add the different roles to the server, it automatically adds the rule exceptions to allow traffic to the services in question. Very nice addition, IMHO.

As I said, overall it's very nice. Hopefully it won't be plagued wih the various issues that have dogged Vista since it's release. I look forward to testing a more up-to-date version as, and when, it becomes available.
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Postby yeshuas » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:13 pm

I just downloaded the the RCO version of Server 2008, a couple days ago, haven't installed it yet, probably will tonight when I get home. Maybe they addressed the memory issue in this release
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Postby Absolute-Zero » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:17 am

There may not be an issue with the memory, as such, it's possible it's being caused by the fact I'm running the server in a VM environment rather than as a physical machine. Possibly Virtual PC 2007 doesn't cope with Vista and it's derivatives too well?

Microsoft do reckon that it's capable of running Vista now so it really shouldn't be that.

It's more likely to be the case that the code hasn't been completely optimized yet as the version I was testing was Beta 3 and not RC0. Maybe there's been a few changes since then?

It just seems that the bare, native OS was using a heck of a lot of resources just to keep itself running. For example, Task Manager takes up around 8-10Mb. Not a lot of memory but, for some reason, it kept pegging the CPU at about 30%. Again, probably more to do with the VM environment!

I'd really like to be able to test it 'live' but, unfortunately, I don't have a spare server kicking around and I don't want to dual-boot a desktop machine to test a server OS.
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Postby Absolute-Zero » Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:17 am

Been playing around with this for a few days now and, it seems, the majority of the memory problems I'm facing seem to be when installing and uninstalling software. Adding and removing server roles, etc, using the Server Management console didn't seem to cause a fuss but certainly installing SQL 2005, it's Service Pack and a couple of subsequent patches have sapped the system memory to nigh-on 100%. Once the software's up and running it seems to operate without problem and the memory usage, although high, seems to level out well at around 60-75% utilisation, fairly standard for a DB server. Possibly something to do with Windows Installer, then.

SQL 2005 has known issues with Server 2008 so it maybe something to do with these. I've signed up to the SQL 2008 CTP program so I shall be downloading and installing that soon, see if our existing Web Apps run on that.
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Postby Grav!ty » Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:19 am

This is very informative Dan. I like to mess with server OS's from time to time. Not that I'm by any means knowledgeable about them, but I do get to learn a wee bit each time I fiddle around :yesnod:
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Postby Absolute-Zero » Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:32 am

That's really the best way to do it, Graham. There's plenty that I don't know and, until you encounter them, you never will.

This is an interesting exercise for me, particularly as our company will, very soon, be forced to move from their Win2k servers to something a little more up-to-date. As I'm having to test that the stuff we develop will work in these newer environments anyway, I thought I'd share my findings with everyone here, that way others can contribute, chew the fat and share notes.

Microsoft are including downgrade rights for Win2k3 into the licenses for Win2k8 so you can make small steps rather than gargantuan ones when upgrading. I'm thinking I may be tempted to sneak one of less 'popular' servers over to 2008, though!
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Postby SonicSpeed » Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:39 pm

I am looking forward to installing this both on my Desktop (since I can convert it into one of the most stable workstations around) and on my actual Server (Dual P3 1.4, 4GB RAM, 3x 18GB 10k SCSI)
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Postby shreader » Sat Oct 13, 2007 1:23 pm

I, being a rookie at Server 2008 installed the 'Web Server' flavor, the easiest IMHO.

So far I have had no problems using & testing this one, once i overcame the default display (VGA) & loosened-up (a lot) the very secure IE settings.

Haven't had any errors w/ my apps but i have noticed in several places 'Vista' mentioned still :shocked:
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Postby ZeroByte » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:08 pm

SQL Server by default will use all available memory. You must setup the SQL server properties and allocate how much total memory for it to use.
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Postby SonicSpeed » Sun Oct 14, 2007 7:15 pm

shreader wrote:I, being a rookie at Server 2008 installed the 'Web Server' flavor, the easiest IMHO.

So far I have had no problems using & testing this one, once i overcame the default display (VGA) & loosened-up (a lot) the very secure IE settings.

Haven't had any errors w/ my apps but i have noticed in several places 'Vista' mentioned still :shocked:

Just a point of interest, you can easily change server 2008 to look and feel like Vista (without UAC) by doing a few simple steps

Goto Add Features on the Mange Server screen.

Go down to Desktop Experience (check it)
Go to Quality Windows Audio Video Experience (check it)
Finally go down to Wireless Lan (if need be)

Then restart (with proper video card drivers etc, Vista ones work well) and then enable Aero Glass. And then you have Vista... without needing Vista :lol:

EDIT: The Steam survey they do every so often refers to the OS as Windows Vista (32-bit)
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