Hardware requirements for small scale vmin host

I’ll be running an ubuntu/virtualmin setup for myself and some coworkers. We’re talking small personal websites (Joomla, Gallery and such) for 5-10 domains. I have some old hardware lying around the office but am unsure what I should use. More is always better of course but there’s also no reason to waste hardware that we can use elsewhere.

Would a 3Ghz Xeon (dualcore with HT) and 3 GB’s of RAM be sufficient for our needs?

If I shake the tree I can probably scare up a dual proc version of the above machine and some more memory but I’m thinking it’s a little much perhaps? I’ve been trying to find out if dual proc would improve performance considerably for tools like GD, Imagemagick and Netpbm. Gallery requires a lot of Mhz when processing pictures.

Thoughts, suggestions, comments or any personal experiences?

Thanks for your help.<br><br>Post edited by: dkcp, at: 2009/02/26 07:47

Would a 3Ghz Xeon (dualcore with HT) and 3 GB's of RAM be sufficient for our needs?

Yeah, that should be fine. Memory is pretty much the best performance determining factor in the vast majority of web servers, and 3GB is pretty good. Any reasonably modern CPU is usually more than fast enough.

We’re running Virtualmin.com, software.virtualmin.com, our blog, and a handful of other sites on a similarly equipped system (though I think it has 4GB of RAM). We get pretty good traffic these days–2-3k uniques per day, and our mail load is really heavy (we send and receive tens of thousands of messages a day, mostly due to notifications–the website has 5k+ registered users and several hundred of those have notifications of various types setup). So, it’s a pretty hard-working Joomla system, and all but the forums are fast and responsive most of the time. (It’ll be running Drupal soon, but I don’t know how Drupal does under the real load.)


Well, for small personal websites, where you don’t see them getting a ton of traffic, I’d offer that your hardware is probably more than plenty.

Sure, adding a second CPU may speed certain things up a bit, but a dual core Xeon with 3 gigs of RAM is fairly decent, and would probably go significantly under-utilized, especially if you have typical personal sites there.

Of course, the above changes if you start getting a ton of traffic :slight_smile:

But if that happens, you can always do some late-night maintenance some evening and pop in that second CPU.

Thanks for your quick and detailed response Joe. I appreciate it.


Nuts, Joe beat me to it! :slight_smile:

Thanks to andreychek as well. Good to hear that it should be enough.

It’s just for us who work there and I think there’s probably only a handfull of us that will be running anything on it. Personally I run my email through Google Apps so that takes some load off as well. My own websites get a 100 hits total on a good day and I suspect the other websites won’t get much more than that either. I know one guy will run a forum but they’re a closed group of about 30 people so that won’t cause much trouble either.

The hardware is an retired IBM x226 3Ghz, 3 Gb RAM, dual PSU’s and 6x73GB SCSI drives in RAID5. I might split that up and run 4 disks in RAID5 and 2 in JBOD for backups. We’ll see.

Thanks for your help once again.

i have 4 gb of ram but the cpu is much slower than yours.
68 domains, a gameserver and a shoutcastserver and it’s not even feeling the load (only clamav will get it a bit higher sometimes). So I bet you’ll be fine with that box.

…drupal, Joe?

...drupal, Joe?

Yep, I’m afraid so. :wink:

Joomla has…umm…been an experience. But I believe I’ve had my fill of it. It just doesn’t fit with the way I want the site to work, and I’ve gotten simply exhausted trying to make it fit. The fact that almost no apps follow a standard set of coding guidelines is also horrifying–every app at Virtualmin.com is a third party component, and they’re all completely and utterly different at the code level. They all use different markup processors, none of them participate in Joomla search, none of them use the Joomla database functions, and every one of them is a reckless and roughshod hack of an existing app into Joomla. Joomla itself is fine–it’s the apps that kill me, and we obviously need a few apps in order to do things. We don’t actually need a CMS…we just need a nice forum, a nice bug tracker, a nice web shop, and a nice documentation manager, and all of them need to share sessions and users. Drupal apps are mostly “core” apps…they’re developed by the regular Drupal developers and they use the same functions and the same basic coding style. I don’t love Drupal, but I feel reasonably sane when I try to read and modify the code.

And, since I would have to completely start over to upgrade to Joomla 1.5 (you have to “migrate” rather than “upgrade”), anyway, I figured I’d try some other options before committing to more Joomla development. And, it turned out that I liked Drupal a lot better. Again, I don’t love it, but I think it’ll allow for a better Virtualmin.com.

i dont use the old joomla anymore, it is just mambo… the new joomla 1.5 is totally different however and way better.
One should always be a bit careful with 3rd party extensions, also in Drupal.

drupal is great too but a steeper learning curve. I’ve seen some great sites based on Drupal.

The learning curve is steep, indeed: You can do nearly every modifications to your site without touching Drupal core code. You just have to know how to use the Drupal framework.

I do use Drupal since 3 years now for developing web sites and still get the feeling sometimes to be a newbie…

BTW: It performs very well on high load when using the build in cache.

You can do nearly every modifications to your site without touching Drupal core code.

Yes, this has been refreshing. Joomla is really hard to customize in any significant way without hitting the code in big ways. Drupal has hooks for just about everything. Enabling a standard markup processor (with the ability to use full HTML in places where it makes sense) across all tools was trivial. In Joomla I’ve never been able to standardize, so we use HTML for content, BBcode for forums, and DokuWiki markup in the documentation and the bug tracker (and it barely works in the bug tracker). Search is also consistent across all apps and works reasonably well (I can stop paying Google $500/year!). And, what code I have had to write has been generally a nicer experience.

I’m still iffy on the whole CMS concept; they all seem to suck. And I hate working in PHP. But, Drupal makes it pretty tolerable.

Being sceptical about CMS and hating PHP but choosing Drupal: Sounds like a big compliment to Drupal :wink:

Sure, its a problem to getting captured inside a CMS and all the restrictions which it probably will impose over the free world of ideas.

I thought so although knowing Drupal now let me think different. It is more a framework for developing applications which also includes a CMS. Have a look at http://api.drupal.org to get an overview of the framework. It has some nice functionallity which helps building apps faster.

But why do you choose PHP when being a Perl programmer? Aren’t exist any good frameworks or CMSs in the Perl universe?

Being sceptical about CMS and hating PHP but choosing Drupal: Sounds like a big compliment to Drupal ;)

Yes, it really is. If you’d asked me how I felt about CMS a year ago, you’d have gotten nothing but a stream of profanity. I’m not quite so angry these days. My only big beef with Drupal is the fact that they have three versions of Drupal in active development (5, 6, and 7). That’s just irresponsible, and a huge waste of resources. Drupal 6 is the current “stable” release, but half of the applications we need haven’t yet been upgraded to work in Drupal 6…even Drupal.org just switched to Drupal 6, and they’re at release 6.10 and the 6 tree is over a year old. And despite the fact that a large percentage of applications haven’t been ported to Drupal 6, they’ve already branched Drupal 7. Not reassuring.

Nonetheless, the code is pretty clean, and I don’t want to stab anyone’s eyes out (including my own) when I have to read the code or make customizations or add new modules.

But why do you choose PHP when being a Perl programmer? Aren't exist any good frameworks or CMSs in the Perl universe?

It’s merely a question of priorities and how much code we want to write for the website. There are a couple of good frameworks (Catalyst, in particular) and CMS (WebGUI) for Perl, but the base application set is missing at least some of the components and capabilities we need, and I’d have to build them from scratch. If I’m going to be doing heavy development work, it’s going to be on our products rather than our website. In the context of the website I’d rather hold my nose and work in PHP for a week or two than have to work for a month or two in Perl. And, frankly, I don’t know that a Perl CMS would make me any happier–the whole mindset of CMS developers tends to make me uncomfortable, so regardless of the language, I’m probably not going to enjoy the work. :wink:

And, frankly, I’m not a programming language dilettante. I will use whatever language allows me to get the job done fastest. For systems management, that’s usually Perl. But, for a website with very well defined requirements (and an existing set of tools that does most of the job), PHP is probably the right choice. I worked in a Python shop for years, and never had very many complaints about it, either.

Im just wondering why you havent tried joomla 1.5.9 as it is completely different from 1.0.15?

Im just wondering why you havent tried joomla 1.5.9 as it is completely different from 1.0.15?

As I mentioned, my biggest complaint with Joomla is with the applications. 1.5.9 doesn’t effect that problem in the least; they are still pretty much all horrible hacks of existing apps to (sort of) work within Joomla. Drupal, on the other hand, has applications that were pretty much all written explicitly for Drupal, and generally by the same set of people to the same coding guidelines.

You have to realize that I don’t need a CMS. We’re not using Joomla or for content management in the usual sense–so comparing the “content management” features of the two packages is nonsensical. They simply don’t matter to me. We’re pretty much using Joomla as a complicated session manager and authentication system…I just want a handful of apps that work seamlessly together. :wink:

Virtualmin.com has four major applications right now:

Bug tracker - Flyspray bridged into Joomla (poorly and in ways that are somewhat broken). Drupal has core team managed “Project” and “Project Issue” modules…they aren’t in a core install, but they are used by Drupal.org for issue tracking of all Drupal projects.

Forums - Fireboard, which is a fork of JoomlaBoard which was a fork of something else. Not really bridged, but not very cohesive with Joomla, either. Drupal has a core forums package.

Shopping cart - VirtueMart, which is a fork of some standalone commerce package and bridged into Joomla. Almost like using a completely separate application–very loosely and poorly fitting into Joomla. It works well for the things it does, but customizing it and integrating it further with other components was horrible (it also has practically no hooks for adding code without modifying the core of the component…I had to patch a half dozen files to make our license creation code work, and I gave up before getting upgrades and renewals working). This one is the most like Joomla on Drupal…but Ubercart, at least, has a wide array of hooks, so I don’t have to patch any files within Ubercart in order to build our license issuing code.

Documentation - An ancient version of DokuWiki bridged into Joomla, poorly. This one is actually the least offensive, but it’s still clumsy and upgrading DokuWiki is nightmarish. In this case, I’m actually able to use the content management features of Drupal for this purpose, and it’s working pretty well. The Joomla content management was so painful it made my soul hurt to think of using it for our hundreds of pages worth of documentation–so I punted and went with the wiki. So, again, it’s a well-maintained core feature of Drupal.

So, while Joomla has billions of applications, they are almost universally non-standard and hard to work with. Joomla itself is not particularly bad, but all of the stuff I have to work with isn’t part of Joomla, it’s third party applications. In Drupal, the applications mostly are part of Drupal and they aren’t painful to work with.

We have maybe two dozen pages in the Joomla “content management” system. Everything else is better served by something completely outside of the “content management” concept. So, maybe content management has become wonderful in Joomla (it certainly needed work–I hate working with those two dozen pages, and I can never find what I’m looking for), but the applications are the hard part, and the apps in Joomla just don’t fit the way I need Virtualmin.com to work.

Also, URLs in Joomla 1.5 are still horrible, and any fixes are totally nasty hacks.

Joomla has a lot of cool stuff going for it…but pretty much none of it is right for this site.

Argh…now you’ve got me angry again. :wink:

Really, Joomla has served us reasonably well, and we’ve sold a lot of software and supported a lot of customers using it. But, you’ve been around long enough to know about a lot of the problems we’ve had with the issue tracker and the forum in particular. The shopping cart issues have been better hidden and you would have only had a handful of opportunities to see them, but they’re equally annoying to me. It’s (almost) time to move on to something else. (Where I’m sure I’ll also have lots of complaints after it goes live, and at some point I’ll to have to find the budget to hire a PHP/Drupal guru to correct them.)

Oh, I didn’t actually mention it, but my Joomla development server has been running 1.5.x for several months. I’ve seen it…it just doesn’t solve anything for me.

Good writeup of what one - may - have to expect when using Joomla. Drop me a line at http://fuerstnet.de/contact if you need a Drupal developer.

At least let’s talk about your Drupal concept if you want/need. I don’t want money for this. May be it is a way I can give you something back for your exceptionally good work regarding Virtualmin which for sure helped me to run my hosting business with lesser time and headaches than before.

Please forgive me for reviving an old thread:

Joomla 1.5 fairly low-overhead resource-wise and there are a great many templates and extensions for it.

For smaller websites which do not require customization, Joomla works well.

For larger websites or websites with a distinct design, Joomla is a pain.

In your opinion, how does Drupal compare to Joomla in regards to quick-and-simple websites such as brochure-style sites for small business?