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At the moment we have no central "dev" server. Two developers (including myself) work with local copies of the database and XAMP installs on our Windows machines (we are using Git for version control).

The idea of the dev server is to have the cloest environment possible to the production machine. The dev server will be located in our office.

Our production server has the following spec:

  • DELL PowerEdge R710 Linux
  • Dual Socket Quad Core Intel Xeon L5520 2.26GHz
  • 12 GB RAM
  • 146GB SAS 15K RPM Drive, HDD RPM: 15000, GB Hard Drive x 4 in RAID 10
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 - 64 bit
  • PHP, MySQL

I only want to spent a few hundred pounds, so the same server is out of the question... but what are the minimum requirements to run the same environment?

I have heard that Centos is the closest free option to RHEL. Must the motherboard be 64bit to run a 64bit operating system? Do I really need raided disks?

Can I get away with buying a cheap desktop PC and installing Centos on it?

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4 Answers 4

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With two of you developing, load is going to be low on the server.

I would be tempted to suggest doing what we have recently done in our team and invest in a server you can run something like vmware esxi on (or whatever your preference for virtualisation is).

You can then have your dev server, testing server, pre-staging environment etc etc, and because the load will be low, a bottom end HP or Dell box with the ram upped a bit will be more than powerful enough to support a couple of virtual servers.

We just bought one of these and it is more than adequate for a team of 6 developers

HP ProLiant - DL360

To answer your other queries, yes you need a 64 bit cpu to run a 64 bit os, Raid isn't a necessity (single disks are going to be plenty fast enough for your needs). Obviously you will need to implement a backup strategy. (Remember raid isn't a backup strategy!)

You can get away with a cheap desktop PC but to be honest it isn't much more to go to entry level boxes from the big names. You will get better quality parts and support.

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Given you are using GIT, it sounds like what you actually want to know is how much you should invest in a test server. By that I mean a server that you will practice deploying your code to, make sure it is compatible etc. Unless you are doing load testing, you can probably get away with pretty much any computer, or even a Virtual Private Server hosted in the cloud. You need to bear in mind that hardware failure may lead to delays for your clients - that could lose you business.

If you do actually want a server that is going to centrally store data (maybe because you are thinking about simplifying backups, centralise business documents etc.) then you should invest - over time it will become critical, and a failure may cost you your business.

CentOS should be fine if you are deploying to RHEL, as long as you stick to the default yum repositories - if you use other repos you will not be sure to be running the same as RHEL.

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With just 2 people, you could even get away with an old laptop - for a recent overnight web challenge event, we used an old Dell E1505 for 10 of us, and it worked great.

I recommend getting a server with lower specs - much lower. That way, things that are fast on it will FLY on the main web server.

You could make it dev, test, and your repo host.

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Hardware wise for your budget you could consider a HP ProLiant MicroServer running Centos.

Very cheap, as long as you aren't planning on benchmarking on it as the CPU power isn't really comparable.

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