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I've recently gotten into web development and my site got enough hits that I decided to take the leap and buy my own server, static IP, and bandwidth. I'm a little worried about performance though. Last week, I disconnected the monitor I had plugged into the server and apache didn't even crash once. This might just be luck, but it brings up an important question: does something like a physical monitor actually eat up enough CPU/RAM to be significant?

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Is this a serious question? –  Doug Luxem Jun 11 '09 at 20:39
    
@DLux yes, it is –  user9233 Jun 11 '09 at 20:44
    
Short answer: No. –  Jauder Ho Jun 12 '09 at 5:06

7 Answers 7

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Having a monitor powered on, powered off, or not physically attached should not affect your server in the slightest. If anything does happen when you plug/unplug/power on/off a monitor then you should be looking at electrical problems.

it brings up an important question: does something like a physical monitor actually eat up enough CPU/RAM to be significant?

Running a graphical desktop will eat a small amount of memory and CPU. My desktop of 1920x1200x32bit colour takes less than 9MB. Double or triple that for the applications and if you're having RAM problems the you should look at buying more RAM. That said, on unix and linux you can shutdown the graphical display to reclaim that small amount of memory.

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I'm assuming you're just talking about plugging in a monitor to a video-out port, and not about putting a video card in the system.

Having a monitor connected makes no difference to the operation of PC-based server computers. It doesn't consume any CPU, RAM, etc. I suppose it's possible that you've got some strange electrical situation occurring that might be causing something to happen, but that seems pretty remotely possible.

If you're running some kind of program to display something on the monitor that you're not normally running when no monitor is attached, that's a different story.

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+1 It takes CPU cycles in coordination with your video processor to generate a signal, but beyond that the CPU doesn't give a rip one bit what actually consumes that signal. It don't care if there's something plugged into the card or not. –  squillman Jun 11 '09 at 20:57

Well, it might, depends on what your configuration is of course. Do you run Xorg? Do you use a graphical shell with, some compiz/beryl effects to spice things up? Othet than that, I can't think how a plain old ssh connection could affect your server performance. After all, all that is exchanged that way is text.

I'd say search for real reasons why Apache crashes rather than blaming monitor for it.

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Last week, I disconnected the monitor I had plugged into the server and apache didn't even crash once

Err, if you left the monitor plugged in, would it have crashed? Pretty much any OS can run happily with no monitor attached. The only related problem I can think of is some motherboards refuse to boot if no video card is installed.

There should be no performance difference between having a monitor connected, and not.

There is a difference between running X11 and not (say to run Gnome, or KDE etc). The X server takes up memory and CPU cycles like any other process.. Disabling it is a good idea for a server, since most tasks can be done easily over SSH (or on the local terminal)

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The computer does sometimes communicate with the monitor a little bit (querying capabilities, etc) so I guess it's theoretically possible that a really funky video driver could be crashing things when the monitor is present.

Really very unlikely though, I'd say it's most likely that something else is wrong and the monitor being present or not is just coincidence.

Oh, unless there's a loose connector or the video card isn't sitting right so the act of plugging/unplugging the monitor causes things to move around inside, which could cause all sorts of nastiness on the bus.

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HAHAHAAH More like your server is just a little bit flakey, and removing the monitor made whatever connect a bit better. Wiggle the box more and see if it crashes. Consider showing us the crash messages too. Have you considered running memtest for a day or so?

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As others have already said, it makes absolutely no difference whether a monitor is plugged in or not, nor whether it's switched on or not. Even if your system uses "plug and play" to detect monitor features that only kicks in for a very short time when the monitor is first plugged in and takes up pretty close to zero resources.

"apache didn't even crash once"

Apache is perfectly capable of running continuously without crashing, as demonstrated by several million web servers. I've had it run for a bit over 2 years on one machine. It was only shut down when the office was relocated.

If you are experiencing Apache crashes, as your message suggests, you really need to investigate why but I can assure you it has nothing to do with your monitor unless that monitor is very seriously defective electrically and is causing spikes or overloads on the video port.

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