Using a computer with "server" operating system?

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dm200
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Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:53 pm

I am getting conflicting information/advice on this issue.

I have a need to run a certain specialty application concurrently from two computers (two people can use that system at the same time). A peer-to-peer network will not work. If multiple users are desired, that specialty application must run on a 'server" (such as Microsoft server 2008, small business server 2011, etc.).

For two users, does that require 3 computers (the server and two 'workstations') OR can the server be used to run the application and do all the other sorts of things I would do on a system (internet, email, WORD, EXCEL, and so on? Are any of you using a Windows server operating system as your primary computer system?

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rustymutt
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by rustymutt » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:01 pm

Depends on the software you're installing on the server, but most server installed software programs will allow a user to log on as a client on the server itself. I come from a 911 environment where the developer of the software tells us how we can use a server. I followed their advise, as I didn't want any issues with my equipment, or the support of it. I followed their hardware/software recommendations, and never had any issues. Ask the developer of the software if this is OK.
Last edited by rustymutt on Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dailybagel
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dailybagel » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:01 pm

Is the "specialty application" something you would like to run on Windows specifically?

brianH
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by brianH » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:15 pm

I used Windows Server 08 as my primary OS for a while. Generally it works seamlessly, just like the OS it is modeled after (2003=XP, 2008=Vista/Win7). You occasionally run into software which checks the Windows version and refuses to install, but this can sometimes be overcome with the 'Compatibility' options under the program's 'Properties' dialog.

One option is to run the server OS in a virtual machine on one of the physical boxes. The same machine (and the other) can remote desktop in to the server vm to run the application. The default is to allow 2 simultaneous connections to Server 2008 at any one time, unless you pay for the additional RDP licenses.

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by KyleAAA » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:18 pm

Not nearly enough information. You don't need an operating system with "server" in the name to run a server in most cases. Windows XP and Windows 7 will run a server just as easily as Windows Server 2008 in many cases. What application are we talking, here?

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by SSSS » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:22 pm

The Server editions of Windows can run all standard Windows software. I know a number of enthusiasts who prefer Server editions for their personal workstations.

Also, have you verified that your application will genuinely only run on Server editions, i.e. it's an actual enforced limitation rather than just a clause in the license?

There are not really a lot of differences between server & workstation versions of Windows, except that the server editions contain some extra features and software, and the workstation editions are gimped to limit functionality of Microsoft server programs such as IIS -- limitations that generally don't apply to third-party server programs.

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by sscritic » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:33 pm

While this has nothing to do with windows, I used to run a content management system (Zope*) on a machine in my office running FreeBSD for a moderate sized group working on a project. The content was served and managed through a web interface, so I was running a web server, obviously. At some point, IT wanted me to become official, so they gave me a machine downstairs in the server room so I could duplicate my FreeBSD server. I never had a problem surfing the web, writing notes, etc., but I had to use software that ran on FreeBSD.

* "Zope is a Python-based application server for building secure and highly scalable web applications." (It is now considered legacy software).

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dm200
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:01 pm

dailybagel wrote:Is the "specialty application" something you would like to run on Windows specifically?
Yes - it only runds on Windows operating systems.

From some other information from the provider of that specialty software, in a small environment, it may actually run in a Windows 7 network. :happy

MathWizard
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by MathWizard » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:21 pm

I think that you shuld be able to do this with 2 computers, one running the server edition.
Be warned though that the server machine will be doing double duty server + client for
one of the people, so make sure you have a fast machine with plenty of RAM.

If you already have machines, be they MS Windows , Linux or MAC, and you just want to
add a server machine, you could look into software like Citrix, or VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
which is free.

With VNC, there is a server portion that would run on the system which has the
software, likely the MS Server Edition machine. VNC client software runs on the other
machines, and can connect and get what looks like a windows screen for the server machine
in a window on the desktop in front of you (the client machine). I think there is even an
IPAD and Iphone VNC client app.
The signon is encrypted, and it may be possible to encrypt the entire session with SSL (the
protocol used for secure websites, but I'm not sure).


OpenSource programs for VNC are available for download at:

https://www.realvnc.com/download/open/
Last edited by MathWizard on Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

dailybagel
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dailybagel » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:22 pm

KyleAAA wrote:Not nearly enough information. You don't need an operating system with "server" in the name to run a server in most cases. Windows XP and Windows 7 will run a server just as easily as Windows Server 2008 in many cases. What application are we talking, here?
I think this is the most important question on here. If the software in question is computationally costly, e.g. everyone is submitting jobs to a central server, then we might recommend you get a separate workstation for each user, WITHOUT using the server as a workstation/client.

If the software licenses merely use the word "server" to describe the computer on which the program's backend/server-side/main software is installed, then you may not need a separate computer OR a special operating system.

Until the question asked by KyleAAA is answered, I would be skeptical that the software really needs Windows XYZ Server to run. As with many questions on BH, the more information and background you provide, the better the answers and advice you will receive.

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:31 pm

This discussion has helped me greatly. I now know, much better, the specific questions to ask the various parties in this process.

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by jebmke » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:42 pm

KyleAAA wrote:Not nearly enough information. You don't need an operating system with "server" in the name to run a server in most cases. Windows XP and Windows 7 will run a server just as easily as Windows Server 2008 in many cases. What application are we talking, here?
Yes. I have run client-server applications on XP and W7. I've had up to 10 users on XP and as many as 20 on W7 -- in both cases, laptops with lots of memory. I agree, without knowing what the app is and how it runs, no way to know what will or will not work.
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by mike143 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:24 pm

Our job sites (5-8 users) use Win XP Pro desktop computer for a file servers. Will be Win 7 Pro on future jobs also now using Dell PowerEdge T310 instead of Dell desktops.

Also followed a nice guide on running vCenter on Win 7 Pro. Working just fine. Win 7 Pro versus Win 2k8 R2 Std can be a $800 price difference

I hate when vendors enforce these artificial limitations.

Also had a software programmer tell me I need server class hardware and OS but couldn't explain why. I told him that if he can't definitively give me reasons, that it wasn't going to fly. He never came up with anything.

I am also the person that did a Windows XP to Vista to 7 upgrade because the version of Symantec BackupExec wouldn't install on Vista or 7. That is also working just fine.
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dad2000
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by dad2000 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:50 pm

The application vendor/developer should be the one to answer your question.

If you should find that a user is not allowed to run the application while directly logged in to the server, you may be able to share the physical server using a virtualization technology (Hyper-V is probably the simplest for non-techies). This would allow you to run both a virtual server and virtual workstation on the same physical server. You could then log into the console of the virtual workstation to use the application.

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by hudson » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:17 pm

dm200 wrote:I am getting conflicting information/advice on this issue.

I have a need to run a certain specialty application concurrently from two computers (two people can use that system at the same time). A peer-to-peer network will not work. If multiple users are desired, that specialty application must run on a 'server" (such as Microsoft server 2008, small business server 2011, etc.).

For two users, does that require 3 computers (the server and two 'workstations') OR can the server be used to run the application and do all the other sorts of things I would do on a system (internet, email, WORD, EXCEL, and so on? Are any of you using a Windows server operating system as your primary computer system?
dm200, If I had to set this up, I would focus on the company or developer that provides the specialty application. I would want to read specifications, the manual, and talk to their support people. They have likely designed it to work a certain way...and with specific operating systems. I would speculate that you would have to follow their design, and that they could quickly tell you what you need to know. I would want to be able to backup the database without shutting the software down...unless it will be done manually.

agree with dad2000!

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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by paulsiu » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:35 am

I have use windows server as my main desktop macine OS. Windows server are no different than their desktop counterpart interface-wise. You login just like windows and get a desktop like windows. However, where a desktop windows will favor user interface, a server will have priority on the back-end stuff, so if the system is busy, it may seem less responsive.

Be warned that some application will detect that you are running server OS and refused to install. This is because the vendor has a server edition out with a lot more money. This will apply for infrastructure type items like backup or virus scanner and not typical applications.

Paul

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Using a computer with "server" operating system?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:59 pm

You have not mentioned what you hope to gain by avoiding a dedicated server. If it's just the cost of a new computer as the server you may find that there are also costs to using a non-standard configuration. These can include:
  • Technical support will blame all problems on your configuration.
  • Every time they tell you to reboot the server you lose your desktop.
  • Having the desktop and server on the same machine can make things less scalable if you ever grow and have to add extra users.

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