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Worlds Slowest NT Server 270

Thom writes "NerdPerfect is holding a contest to find the NT server with the slowest reboot time. The best (worst?) time so far is 49 minutes, 13 seconds. Go check it out."
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Worlds Slowest NT Server

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  • Yeah, it's a "microkernel". :)

    But yes, that did aid portability before they dropped support for everything. Now it probably just slows them down.

    VMS had some cool features. Unfortunately, NT didn't use any of them, so all we have left is some legacy weird architecture. How stupid is that?
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • A VMS cluster can take all morning to boot. But once it boots it will stay up until your UPS's fail for the next time.

    What's the point of having a short boot time? Does Linux crash so often that it matters that it boots in only a few seconds? Or is this yet another meaningless benchmark that the Linuxer's are bringing out?

  • If you bluescreen every day, or even every few months, you're in a tiny minority of NT users. Wether the rabid Linux advocates want to belive it or not NT is easily capable of 99.99% uptimes.

    Capable?...Yes. Easily capable?...I don't know if I'd go that far. There have been days when I've had to reboot my NT machine at work half a dozen times or more. Oh, the joy!

  • by CrAlt ( 3208 )
    "Longest time for a Linux newbie to figure out how to change the screen resolution in Gnome" I
    guarantee it'll be weeks....

    So we are talking about an linux newbie with a MSCE right?
  • or like watching NT boot....
  • it doesn't make decent-sized partitions
    WTF is that supposed to mean?
    You DO realize that NTFS partitions can be up to 2^64 bytes in size, right? You knew that, right?
    You also knew that NT has to have a boot partition within the first 1024 sectors, right?
    Yep, you knew all that. Keep talking like *you're* the expert on NT.
  • Actually, go to his site and click around for a while.. You'll find a funny article about how M$ wanted to charge him for tech support on bugs listed in their tech base.

    I called them once to confirm that a bug existed in Internet Information Server (the key word is *confirm*, it was plainly obvious there was a problem, and I already had my own work-around). Because they gave me some stupid-ass workaround (that was unacceptable), they claimed to have solved my problem and wanted to charge my company. I argued about it until the phone lackey gave up by leaving the decision to his superiors. As far as I know we never got a bill.

    The most infuriating thing was that the very next day, the bug, and their lame work-around, showed up in the knowledge base, when it was not there before. Apparently, they don't admit to bugs until they can charge someone for "discovering" them.

    For the curious, here's the bug. []
  • fsck can take a wile with just 4 1.7 gig drives. But since it never crashes I dont see that much. fsck is nothing compaired to what it takes that box (URL at top of post) to recompile. No 4.8BogoMips isnt THAT slow :)
  • BOOT/DOS partitions are limited to 7.8gb. NT Setup is limited to creating 4gb partitions because it's running in real mode and limited to 1024 sectors when it creates them.
    After NT is installed, you can create NTFS partitions with Disk Administrator up to 16 exabytes in size.
    That's right, 16 exabytes

  • Our exchange server has taken well over an hour to shut down before. And, of course, since it's an NT box with a lot of traffic hitting it, it's gotta be rebooted every couple of months.

    Now that they're moving everything to Active Directory services, just imagine, you can have your website's registered users, your email users AND your in-house people all mucking up the same "technology" at the same time. And the API is almost useable! Lucky us, I tell ya.
  • What I see - and I see it very often - is that a NT machine will start up pretty fast, slow down over a the course of a few hours of hard work and finally all but stop. At that point, the system may not have technically bluescreened, but it sure isn't any fun to work on. The only cure that I know of is a reboot.

    I never see this problem on Unix systems - I think it has to do with the way Windows applications interact with the OS, with all the shared gunk that clogs up everything.


  • Perhaps RH should start starting sendmail in the background, then? I've never seen sendmail take any more than 2-3 seconds to start. And I'm not a sendmail fan either (go Exim! ;-) ).

    /* Steinar */
  • Oh, most certainly. SBS has so many servers running on it that it takes forever for them to shut down in order. I had a similar experience with a client where SBS took nearly 2 hours to shutdown on its own.

    The "official" fix recommended by Microsoft books is to use a batch file that shuts down the servers in a particular order to speed things up. It does help, it cut the shutdown time on my client's machine from 2 hours to about 20 minutes.

    Here's a writeup on the batch file and how it works:
    How To Do a Quick SBS Shutdown []
  • NT has to do the same checks when it thinks there might be an FS problem, its that or chance destroying your data.

    Not when it's NTFS, it doesn't...done on the fly, not on boot.

    Of course, that is what is supposed to happen but my experience has been quite the opposite.

    We have a rather flakey NT file server at my company that will slowly begin corrupting new saved files. Of the many proceedures tried to fix this problem, the only consistently successful one is to run chkdsk c: /f which will wait for the next reboot and then run a full check of the hard drive before starting up.

    This command is more benificial (and worthwhile) than the regualar file checking performed by NT during standard operation.

    Ever notice how the real power to Windows NT is accessed though the command line like the file checking command above?

  • That would have to be a big fsck, or a really big drive. My 2x4 GB RAID-0 cluster (long live Linux, taking RAID to the home users!) takes perhaps two or three minutes to fsck. Should be even better (hopefully), when I get them on my new Promise ATA66 controller.

    Of course, in a business environment, you could have a 8x30GB RAID-5 cluster...

    /* Steinar */
  • Ours are Netware 4.11, but the central computing lot are a mix between 4.11 and 5; not sure which ones they had which were taking ages to boot.
  • by Sesse ( 5616 )
    The 6x86 has the RDTSC (read timestamp counter) function -- you just have to enable it by toggling some CPU flags (I think). I've seen a Windows program to do this. It wasn't entirely standards-compliant (!), though -- didn't always generate unique timestamps (over a period of 30 years or something...).

    Check the `amendment' to the FAQs -- no emulators (OK, VMware isn't an emulator... or so they claim) allowed now.

    /* Steinar */
  • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @09:41PM (#1578589) Homepage
    ...something an NT server will be good at! ;)
  • He said to start timing when you select "Yes" -- I'm assuming that's when you select "OK" or whatever from the shutdown dialog, not when you select the OS after the BIOS/Hardware initialization. So that includes BIOS and hardware, a non-OS-specific slowdown. I start my HP Netserver LC with 2 slow-to-detect SCSI controllers, it takes a while, no matter which OS I'm running.

    Of course, the point is apparently poking fun at something people have to do all the time, not specifically MS-bashing. In that context, I suppose it makes sense for that pain to mean something. :)


  • Read the KB articles. The system partition (acc. to MS, this is actually the BOOT partition, the one where the bootloader files are located, not necessarily %systemroot%) is limited to 7.8gb.
  • This sounds like a cool contest, but how are the times being checked? Or is this like the Darwin awards, where if you can come up with a reasonable answer, you're good to go?

    Not that I don't believe that it could take Windows NT 49 minutes to reboot, I'd just like to see it.
  • The 99.9% uptime figure is likely for a failover cluster. That would leave only 8 hours of downtime a year and while NT isn't as horrible as most of /. makes it out to be, it isn't that good either. The only way I can imagine having less than 8 hours of downtime a year without redundant servers would be if you needed no service packs or hotfixes and you did not have to install or upgrade any software on it.

    As for the people who have noted slow boot times on high-end machines, I have too. I seriously think that NT takes significantly longer to boot on a large machine though I have only my personal experience to back that one up and that's not worth much, eh? At my last job I had the 'pleasure' of administering a whole mess of NT boxen and the PII/233 with basic SCSI booted SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the quad Xeon with hardware RAID-5. Of course, once they were running the Xeon was a wee bit faster.
  • the slowest i have personally seen was about 15 min.. and that to me is WAy too slow.. i dunno what it is.. but 49 min to reboot would make me have to hurt someone.. bad... :)
  • That's right. 8M of ram, 300M HD. I wouldn't even wait for the log in screen. Just turned it on before going to bed, login in the morning. :D

    And yes, NT really did have a 3.1 version. It was fab.
  • That's what Coda (or AFS, if you want) is for. NFS has some fatal flaws (like waiting infinitely), but it was the only working thing available at the time it was written.

    /* Steinar */
  • It wouldn't be that hard to add up the time & rig it for slowness. Put the maximum amount of slowest speed ram possible, max out your pci slots with scsi cards & max out the scsi devices with really slow drives (they spin up one by one to minimize power strain), mess up your drivers and the network configuration cuz it takes extra time to error out, and there ya go. 49 minutes is quite unbelievable tho, unless it's a 486 with all the stuff I just talked about.
  • ... exhibitionist masochist network administrators. Is this news, or daytime television?
  • My NT workstation whose volume I expanded onto a newly available bit of disk and left booting for an hour before I could use it again.

    Oh, and my linux box (P60,40MB RAM) boots in the same time as my NT box (P200, 80MB RAM)

  • I have a copy of NT 3.51, running on a 12.2mhz OC'd V-series x86 clone, with 4M of memory and dual 400M IBM full-height MFM/RLL drives.
    At thirty+ minutes to restart with no services/processes running, I think it could win. Anyone ideas on how to make it slower? (I'm not going to engage in anything like the Exchange kill timout bug. Thats cheap.) Can't strip out any of the HW, I'm already below the minimum req's..
  • I don't think you can say that SMB is totally proprietary. Quoting from the Samba meta-FAQ:

    SMB is a filesharing protocol that has had several maintainers and contributors over the years including Xerox, 3Com and most recently Microsoft. Names for this protocol include LAN Manager and Microsoft Networking. Parts of the specification has been made public at several versions including in an X/Open document, as listed at . No specification releases were made between 1992 and 1996, and during that period Microsoft became the SMB implementor with the largest market share. Microsoft developed the specification further for its products but for various reasons connected with developer's workload rather than market strategy did not make the changes public. This culminated with the "Windows NT 0.12" version released with NT 3.5 in 1995 which had significant improvements and bugs. Because Microsoft client systems are so popular, it is fair to say that what Microsoft with Windows affects all suppliers of SMB server products.

    /* Steinar */
  • I'm sure I could load NT on my 486 currently running Linux. It'll take at least 5 minutes to boot right out of the box. If I add a few service packs and essential services, it should get up to at least 20... What else?
  • It's an interesting, and almost plausible theory, but Microsoft themselves recommends AGAINST this.

    When I got my MCSE (know thy enemy ;-), the Microsoft recommendation was to never have more than either 2 or 4 thousand users/domain. (and this was the official microsoft documentation). If you ever check out the network structure of a large company (someplace like Merrill Lynch where Private Client Services has something like 60,000 nodes on the network) you'll note that it is NOT a single domain.

    I can't see ANY reason why you wouldn't be better off to have a PDC and BDC at each satellite and then set up trusted domains.

    If you have a single domain then that means that the central administrator would have WAY too much access. 'the admin walked away from his desk and forgot to log out of the god account, so I ran a program which changed 10% of all the passwords, and randomly deleted 2 files off of every machine'. This would be a Bad Thing(tm).
  • I think it was NT on Alpha at SP3 (or was it SP2???) that had a known problem that would take upwards of 30 minutes to shut down. I can't remember if it was related to a service or what but it used to annoy the hell out of me before we upgraded to SP4! just 15 minutes downtime I would tell the users...
  • This "slowest machine that actually does reboot" is an NP-complete problem, given that the space (memory/hard drive) that the NT box has to work with is finite. It trivially reduces (I assume in polynomial time) to an NP-complete problem -- for a turing machine with N transitions (or instructions, whatever they're called, my automata lingo is rusty), find the longest possible finite sequence of '1's that can be printed out (with a '0' and '1' alphabet) before halting.

    (And now, I'll see massive holes ripped in this postulate. Bring it on!)

    "So, what do you want to hack for, Bickle?"
    "I can't sleep nights."
    "They got porno theaters for that."

  • Is it just me or is the very idea of this seem too stupid to bother with?

  • linux kernel compile times!!!!

    and yes i know that there are different journal filesystems available, but which ones are being used by a distribution ? I was talking about using a stock install with ext2.

    I have been a linux user for a long time myself, and my first machine with linux was a college lab computer that we made to dual boot! A 486 with 8 Megs of RAM! but i took longer than 45 seconds to boot!!!!

    Either way, chill out, i am sure a stock install off linux with a HUGE file system will die too!

  • ...something an NT server will be good at! ;) I would have to say that an NT server taking 49 minutes and 13 seconds to boot would make a really good paper weight.. add some paint to the case and you have a work of art....
  • Sorry, forgot to respond to your first comment.
    Yes, I meant cylinders, my bad. It's still 1024. You may get it to work going beyond that, but MS isn't going to support that configuration and it can definitely lead to issues.
    Read: 114/8/41.asp

    Whereas the Master Boot Record is generally operating system independent, the Boot Sector of the active partition is dependent on both the operating system and the file system. In the case of Windows NT and Windows NT Advanced Server, the Boot Sector is responsible for locating the executable file, NTLDR, which continues the boot process. The only disk services available to the Boot Sector code at this stage of system boot up are provided by the BIOS INT 13 interface. The Boot Sector code must be able to find NTLDR and file system data structures such as the root directory, the File Allocation Table (FAT) in the case of an MS-DOS FAT volume or the Master File Table in the case of an NTFS volume. These must be present within the area of the disk addressable by the 24-bit side, cylinder, sector structure used by the BIOS INT 13 interface and the partition table. This limits the size of the system partition to 7.8 gigabytes regardless of which file system is used.


  • BIOS support for large IDE boot partitions is a pretty new thing in the PC world, and NT 4.0 is getting pretty long in the tooth. When NT4 shipped, even SCSI BIOSes generally only supported a 2GB boot partition.

    (I'd be happier if they just had shipped an NT4.1 rather than pretending that Windows 2000 was just about read for the last 2 years. That would have at least resolved the stupid install issues like large IDE disks.)
  • Get some new RAM.
    Preferably ECC.

  • The long reboot problem has existed in Exchange since version 1.0 (err I mean 4.0).

    If they finally fixed it with 5.5 SP2, I'd be amazed that they actually got around to bothering.

  • I don't see this as very likely. Most production NT servers aren't also Linux or FreeBSD servers. In fact, I've never seen a production dual-boot machine. And most of the speed difference would be supposedly coming from misconfigured or just plain of the box broken stuff, like the exchange startup bug people were talking about or that sendmail one that takes five minutes to timeout a DNS lookup on startup.

    The only way that would really be true is if someone was running a really small and slow machine, although, technically, the slowest NT machine possible would not be the slowest Linux one...I've seen Linux run on a 5 meg 386-33, which isn't even possible for NT, so you have to conclude that no matter how small a machine you managed to shoehorn NT into, if you put Linux on that box, it would still run faster then that brave little 386 that it took 60 seconds to pop up the prompt after you logged in.

  • Two years ago I was the Admin of a NT box with Exchange 5.5 on it. It had about 50 mailboxes on it, but all the mail was kept on the server (In one large file, no less). It would routinely take about 30-40 minutes to reboot, depending on what exchange was up to at the current moment.

    Unfortunately, we had a power failure overnight and the server went down. Hard. Very Hard. Exchange was NOT happy about having open files all over the place. Exchange would take forever to try and bring up all its messaging services, and usually fail in thr process of initializing the internet gateway. Before we blew the whole mess away, it was taking almost 2 hours to reboot.

    Surprisingly, the box was a PPro 200 with 224MB memory (128+64+32)

    "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

  • Agreed. The only thing that Exchange and it's long shutdown prove is that the NT Services Control Manager is retarded.

    This is an old problem on NT, and it would be nice if it was solved.
  • The slowest reboot for any OS would probably be the machines where you had to dip-switch in the BIOS. Then you had loaded the diskette boot driver, and from the diskette, you could load a program to boot from HD...

    A really experienced person, working 100% all the time, could do that in 30 minutes or so. But then, the last machine of that type in Norway came around 1990 (I think), and it _still_ runs!

    /* Steinar */
  • It may support huge partitions, but trying to get it to install on a > 8 gig partition (IDE disk), or IDE disk that 12 gig regardless of how it is partitioned is a royal pain in the ass as I discovered trying to help a friend. Out of the box NT doesn't have large IDE disk support so it can't install on one. As far as we could figure out Microsoft's solution was to extract the large disk support from the appropriate service pack and insert in into the .cab file on the boot floppy you use for installing.
    It took ages to get that install working!
  • Start up.
    Real mode portion of installation (if you boot to the CD).
    Finish installation, set up networking, installed options, set password, etc.
    Log in.
    That's right, you're at SP1 (NT CDs now ship as SP1), but you're logged in after 2 boots.
    Install SP5.
    Now you're at SP5, and logged in, after 3 reboots.
    Not 5.
    Keep going, FUD-boy.
    Not to mention that you can install IE5, MDAC 2.1 and assorted software/hardware drivers in the same boot. So with an additional reboot, you could be at:
    NT 4.0, SP5, IE5, MDAC 2.1, and some 3rd party mailserver.
  • linux could _easily_ reach boot times that windows NT could never dream of, because you have the source.

    Just open up the kernel source, and somewhere in the code for the opening crawl insert code that simply runs an empty while() loop until GetDateTime() is equal to January 7, 2004.

    Hell.. long as you're at it, you might as well make it a for(;;);. Infinite boot time! woohoo!
  • No, not for my NT server to reboot.
    That's how long it took for my old powermac to quit Netscape, shut down PPP, reboot, start up PPP, launch Netscape, dial in, load Slashdot, load this page and return to where I was reading :)
    For some reason I find this whole discussion insanely amusing :) oh, and I have a Mac Classic in the bedroom as a cheap notepad/xterm for my shell account, and it boots in twelve seconds (not much to boot).
    Steve Jobs once threw a fit at Apple developers, getting them to make the Macintosh boot faster. "Twenty seconds??? There are X million customers! If you waste a single second you're wasting time equal to X many entire lives! Are you ready to waste that many lives to your laziness???" (not a quote, just paraphrase). Maybe we ought to send him to Redmond to yell at some people. I guess the Microsofties don't mind the toll of lives they waste ;) "So what? They're only customers."
  • Yes, this special mode of interaction with the OS is called resource leaking. Many NT applications are outstanding at it.

    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The fastest boot sequence of any reasonably general purpose OS I've encountered was on Univac 494/Omega that I worked on back in the early 70s (when it was already nearing the end of its lifetime): given suitable peripherals it could boot and have the online workload running again in under 10 seconds - because it had been designed for a target market which could not tolerate extended outages. " Hmmm, try BeOS. It boots up in 10-15 seconds for most people.
  • The Alphaserver running NT4 at [] takes 24 hours to boot - it takes that long to init the drive arrays. I had to boot it once....
  • Oops..thats 25GB disk space, not 25MB

    My system always performs a fsck on startup on all the partitions, since I'd like to know my server is a happy bunny before starting anything else
  • I also have a mac classic (running system 7.x) i got for free from my school. It loads only one extension (SAM AntiVirus) and boots in 21 seconds... I wonder how fast it would go if i took out the extension. Also, its a bit offtopic, but it runs Adobe Photoshop 1.0 in monochrome pretty nicely.

  • I had a similar problem with Exchange Server 5.5.
    The original version (no SP) had a bug that kept
    it from shutting down in real time. If you
    install Exchange SP2, this problem goes away,
    and you can start counting shutdown time in
    minutes instead of hours.
  • This is a rather silly contest. Wait let me replace all my memory with a 16 MB strip of RAM and then severly underclock my CPU. What is the point of this contest again?

    I did this once to see exactly how far down I could clock the CPU and still have Windows NT work. I only tested to 60 MHz but it took approximatly an hour maybe less. Login took aprox. 25 minutes to authenticate.
  • by algae ( 2196 )
    Heh. I had this fileserver running NT 4.0 SP3 one time, with five 9GB drives running as a volume set (makes them look like a single volume, but it isn't RAID). So when we ran out of space, I added a sixth drive to the set and rebooted. It shut down happily and went into NT's happy happy blue screen of fsck^H^H^H^Hchkdsk. About ten minutes later, chkdsk had incremented to 1%. Of the first stage.

    All in all, that particular reboot took over eighteen hours. Beat that.
  • Nice Script. However, I doubt that using a batch file is a Microsoft approved method.

    Microsoft spokesperson Dan Small once said "Yeah, but the scripting is almost a failing of Unix, not a virtue []".

  • Actually, you can do this from the GUI as well. But, yes, a lot of NT can be done from a command line if you know what's being run behind all the buttons.
  • Either this guy really sucks as an admin or he some how managed to shove 20 different SCSI adapters into this thing.

    NT has to be the worst system in the world when it comes to the speed of intializing SCSI adapters at boot. But I really think this guy just "super sux" as an admin. Or maybe he is sysadmin for ECHELON and they ported it to the super computer OS, the unstoppable Windows NT!

    HEHE. "Unstopable Windows NT" I loved that commercial, it's funny, you don't see it on any more though.
  • I don't think that VMWare would run on a 386, it requires the RCTSD (sp?) instruction. I don't believe that was introuduced until the Pentium, or maybe the later 486 (DX-2/4 5x86). VMWare won't run on my Cyrix 6x86 P150+ because it lacks this instruction, one of the few pieces of software that I have had a problem with.
  • Yes I have had this problem too, even longer than 49 minutes to reboot. You're right about the services getting deadlocked. Also part of the problem is users logged on to exchange. Exchange's client kill function isn't so hot, the easiest way to crash a win9x box is shutdown a exchange server while user are connected. Outlook crashes and takes down windows with it.

    But if you want to cut down on reboot time do a net stop on the exchange services and then reboot your box. Guarantied to speed reboot
  • ye gads, get an Honda or Toyota, much more reliable and better trimmings than *any* domestic car.
  • Installing Exchange Server always adds about 15 minutes to the restart time, but I don't think you're exactly right about why. According to Microsoft (there's a technet article on it), the system pauses for a period after stopping each service to make sure each has time to complete. You can change the delay time in the Registry to make things shutdown faster, or you can, as you note, manually shut down services first.
  • Can you wait till NT goes into SuperSlowMode, and then try rebooting? I notice that all my NT servers that I forget to reboot weekly will eventually hit "SSM" and crunch along, easily taking 10 minutes to bring up the task manager. So once in SSM, you can start a reset and wait for literally hours before NT can complete a basic shutdown. I ususally just pull the power (it's actually somewhat satisfying).

    Note that this is on simple hardware (no loopy hardware conflicts), 20 Gig filesystems, and fairly modern systems (P II/300's).
  • sectors??? Even if you are refering to the 1024 CYLINDER limit, you're still wrong. I have NT 4.0 installed on an 18G SCSI drive with the entire NT partition beyond the 16G point. The machine works just fine.

    So far, I've had no problems with any OS and those archaic cylinder limits -- that limit is only valid for the 3D mapping in the PC partition table; everything uses the linear address now.
  • The t-shirt probably reads:

    "I am the NT Admin whose machine booted the slowest in the big contest. Hire me, I am an expert"

    It's to be worn at job interviews. And when applying for food stamps.
  • I installed and ran NT Workstation 3.51 on a 386DX-25 with 12 MB of RAM once. Just to prove it could be done. It booted and ran fine. I didn't dare install any apps on it, though.
  • An AMD k6-2/350 is *not* inferior to a P/100 or a PII/300
  • by copito ( 1846 )
    Screen resolution. Hell that's easy (Ctrl-Alt-+), now if someone could tell me how to change bit depth on the fly I'll send them a beer. I know how to do it at startup but I don't know how to do it without taking down X. Windows does it must be easy right.
  • The Windows 98 SE Shutdown Bug only happened on inferior hardware like AMD systems. I had a K6-2 system where it happened. I got rid of the K6-2 and the problem went away.

    And there's a service patch available on the Windows Update website for this now, in any case.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All you have to do is set the timeout on NTLoader to be ridiculously 65535 seconds.

    Let's face it: this is nothing more than an attempt by an unknown website to get a little free media coverage, and they've obviously been successful.

  • I've had a boot time ranked in the hours (I sent a story to the guy using the form since I don't think this counts).

    I was playing with NT4WS back when SP3 was new, on a 486SX/25 with 36MB of RAM (a 32mb SIMM and 4MB on the motherboard), and a Quantum Bigfoot hard drive, basically as a toy and something my mom could use to serve eBay photos from (it did an OK job, using PWS). One day I decided to do something or other and had to remove the 32MB SIMM to do it. I do it, and forget to put the SIMM back in. Suprizingly, NT eventually got to the login screen and let me log in, but even moving the mouse would cause it to swap... Yes, NT does boot in 4MB of RAM.

    It took at least 3 hours to get the box back down without hitting The Big Red Switch(TM)... But since I didn't run NT 4 Server, I don't think it counts, but I could reproduce the situation easily (got enough 4MB 486en laying around). Hit the Turbo switch on that particular computer, and I could probably quadruple that time, since the turbo switch makes that box a 486SX/8 (no typo. 8MHz).

    I wonder if NT would even try booting on the 386 I destroyed last week...
  • Great contest idea, though a T-Shirt for a prize seems like a pretty half-assed prize imho :) Here's how I would handle the prizes if were running things:

    Me: Congratulations, you have won the contest with an amazingly pathetic reboot time of 4 Hours, 57 Min! (or something to that extent)

    Contestant: WOOHOO... What did I win? What did I win?

    Me: Oh we have a special prize for you... this brand new, top of the line server... running on your favorite OS... WINDOWS NT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Contestant: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! AGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! (goes insane and flys into a fit of violent spasms before falling to the ground, dead)

    Now wouldn't that be funny and ironic?
  • Take two linux computers, put 10 filesystems on each. Now NFS mount the 10 fs from one machine on the other, and vice versa. How do you shut them both down, without logging on as root and unmounting all the filesystems manually first, because the power has failed perhaps?

    In case you don't know, if you have some NFS filesystems mounted, and try to reboot when the NFS server is down, it will take about 5 minutes per filesystem before umount -a times out.
  • by xHost ( 93751 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @10:19PM (#1578715)
    Okay, explain to me how this makes Windows NT a bad OS ? (Apart from the obvious). Of course if you jack up and load the fucker with lots of apps, it'll take forever to reboot, the same with linux and all other os's.

    Hell, do you even realize how long it takes to fsck and parallelize drives upward of 20gig on a linux box ???. And if the name server is down, sendmail takes forever until it times out to take the /etc/hosts name.

    Like I said, stupid, retarded, and it only serves as to satisfy all those rabid NT-haters out there.
  • One could easily have the login authenticated accross an artifically slow link creating very long login times. I think they should take this out of the contest.

    Then again, this isn't scientific, and is good clean FUD, so sure, whatever!


  • Not so, my man. This is only measuring one thing: a contest with slow NT reboot times.

    If you want a contest for slow server boot times, so be it. Put up a webpage and ask for submissions.

    My linux box is running quite a few services, and it isn't a monster like some of the hardware for some of those NT boxes, and it boots up quite nicely, thank you.

    fsck can take forever. Fortunately it doesn't always run. However, NT checking partitions takes a while too. Sendmail doesn't take *that* long to timeout IMO, but I could be wrong here.

    A 50 minute boot time sounds like Exchange is a bad *app* to me, though. I wonder what it does.

    What do you think creates rabid NT-haters? NT! It's DOS, VMS, and Windows, all rolled into one! How monolithic and anti-UNIX can you get? It doesn't tell you anything, it's slow, it doesn't make decent-sized partitions, it has weird driver support, it doesn't support a lot of windows extensions from the past 4 years, it's insecure, it's bloated, and it's generally annoying. Therefore, the occasional anti-NT page is entertainment.

    If you can write a good, sensible anti-UNIX or anti-whatever page, and get it posted, go right ahead. Start with X, it annoys me sometimes. Even if it does have all the features Windows Terminal Server wishes it has. :)
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • but 49 min to reboot would make me have to hurt someone.

    I would imagine that this isn't a workstation. It could have a ton of different servers loading in that time: HTTP, FTP, SQL, etc. Maybe it has a lot of drive space.

    There are many reasons why an NT server would be that slow.

    I'm not saying that's acceptable, however. My main Linux server reboots in, I guess, around <90 seconds. That's with a lot of daemons, too.
  • by Jerenk ( 10262 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @10:47PM (#1578726) Homepage
    There is a known problem with Microsoft Exchange 5.0 (and 5.5) that in certain circumstances can cause an NT machine to take a LONG time to reboot (approx. 1-2 hours). I believe that a machine with Exchange will be the winner because of this problem (which I spent days with MS trying to track down this problem).

    This problem is apparently due to a service deadlock (i.e. the service does not respond to the kill command). There is a registry entry (what a shock!) that dictates how long NT will wait for a service to shutdown. Of course, this is a PER service command. If you have a deadlocked service subsystem (as can occur in certain circumstances with Exchange), it will take approximately * to bring the system down. I believe the default is 5 minutes. Changing it to ten or twenty seconds does a lot of good. =)

    Looking at the website, the leader with 49 min has Exchange running on it. Maybe we should notify him of this registry entry... Nah...

  • I think that's the slowest processor that will run NT, and I just happen to have one sitting at work. I'll just pop that into the Compaq 486 w/24Megs of RAM, and we'll see how long it takes to INSTALL, let alone go through reboots... :-)

    Thank God it's Friday, and I can actually slack off and do this all day!

  • Exchange Server 5.5 can take a *very* long time to boot (ours takes about 5 mins end-to-end, 250 users) especially if you haven't purged down and defragmented the information stores.

    49 minutes indicates an Exchange box that isn't getting the care and attention it requires.

    As for the 18-minuter; well, that's probably one unresponsive box. Remember, Microsoft recommend one server per server application; now, please buy Small Business Server, which runs SQL, Proxy, Transaction, Exchange Servers all one one box :)
  • ...Its no problem to make a server running any OS rebooting really slow if you try.
    Now, the contest ought to be for the slowest rebooting time on a machine set up by some certified MS whatever, in a place where the downtime really hurts. Like in a cold storage. "Oh sorry, you will just have to leave the 10 tons of butter out here in the sun. Computer problems you know..." (true story)
  • Novell servers can be just as bad as NT for long boot times, especially if they weren't shut down cleanly. For those who haven't had the pleasure of this, disk checking can take a looooong time under Netware; about 20 minutes for a 4GB volume. Some servers elsewhere in our Uni have taken > 1 hour to reboot as they have 10's of GB of disks to be checked after hard boots. Even a clean boot isn't particularly fast.

    Just another reason I'll stick to Solaris, thankyouverymuch. UFS logging being a wonderful thing, especially when you have a 60GB RAID-5 volume.

  • DHCP addrsssing on a multihomed server? Did this guy read the instructions or help files? Can he read. MS says not to do that with their clients.

    Yeah, I ran into that. It's really too bad because the NT DNS was really nice in that it registered the DHCP client's names via WINS.

    So, Instead I ended up moving all the services to a multihomed Linux box runing ISC DHCPd, BIND, and Samba with a perl script that would suck the entries from Samba/DHCP and put them in the dns.cache file.

    The NT box boots alot faster now, and the Linux box does not seem to care...
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:12AM (#1578752) Homepage
    What's the point of this? To show that NT takes a long time to boot up? To make NT look bad?

    It doesn't do either. The organisers come across as being incredibly immature, and the existence of such a lame contest is hardly a credit to the Linux community.
  • a really lame excuse. Isn't one of the primary tentant that Windows is supposed to be easy to use? I have seen admins with credentials up their arm, screw something up and have to reinstall from scratch. Us "windows developers" pratically have to do it every day.

    In theory, one could solve all your problems by knowing how every thing ticks, but most of time we work with a lack of information.

    I'll tell you what - you release Windows in source code form and I will document it the way it should be - completely. No more obscure registry switches, no more half brain head services. I would love to know why SCM does the brain head things it does.
  • by EricTheRed ( 5613 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:32AM (#1578758) Homepage
    He probably didn't shut the exchange services down in the correct order before shutting down exchange.

    I have a pair of scripts on all three of our exchange servers, and use one of them to shut them down first before rebooting the server (the other one is for restarting the services, but is rarely used).

    Here's the shutdown script:

    @echo off
    rem batch file to stop Microsoft exchange

    echo Stopping services

    net stop MSExchangeIMC
    net stop MSExchangeMTA
    net stop MSExchangeES
    net stop MSExchangeIS
    net stop MSExchangeDS
    net stop MSExchangeSA

    echo system down

    As for longest shutdown, I did have once where one person here decided to reboot the server at the end of the day (and didn't know about the scripts), and it was still trying to stop the services at 8am (15 hours later!).

    -- trust me, I'm a Viking :-)
  • There was a bug in the Spooler service. It wasn't apparent until Exchange 5.x was installed on the system. The spooler would not shutdown because it was waiting for a connection that never came. Installing Exchange modifies the global shutdown WaitToKillService timeout to ~15 minutes. This was done to allow Exchange time to shutdown its databases without fear of corruption for being killed. If you install SP4 or greater, this is fixed. Long Reboots is no more funny than PCWeek not installing the security patches for Red Hat and calling it a fair security test. The only good thing that should be taken away from this is that all admins need to stay on top of the latest patches for their platform.
  • It doesn't tell you anything

    Ever tried running the system info tools? You can get graphs of everything from vm swaps to cpu util in user vs protected mode to packet loss to ... well you get the picture. That app is the one thing I really miss about NT...

    it doesn't make decent-sized partitions

    Huh?? NTFS supports 16exabyte partitions. You have a device bigger than that??

    it has weird driver support

    Weird in that there are drivers shipped in the box with virtually any hardware device you can buy (except of course some video capture products and parallel port devices which I agree is a bit crap) and you don't have to write them yourself? :-)

    it doesn't support a lot of windows extensions from the past 4 years

    It doesn't support DirectX over version 3. Period. And Win2K will fix that...but hey only Linux people are allowed to use the phrase "that's in the next release" aren't they?

    it's insecure, it's bloated, and it's generally annoying.

    And I can't be bothered any more...

    Seriously I'm not having a dig at the linux/solaris/be/*bsd/amigaOS/whateverOS guys & gals out there. Just don't fight FUD with only lowers yourself to their level. And you really don't want that. NT's not too bad if you know you're way around it, and are aware of it's limitations. Different OS's are good for different things. Nothing is perfect....chill :-)

  • by Convergence ( 64135 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:51AM (#1578773) Homepage Journal
    You'd be surprised.. I have a system that fsck's 6 8.5 gig drives in parallel in under 60 seconds. (I think it is about that timeframe, it has been 65 days of uptime since it last booted.) Running a single fsck, on one drive (95% full) takes 35 seconds real time (as just measured)

    But lets put it this way, that system takes less time to boot up with an fsck than my personal machine which has one 90% full 5gb partitian formatted with the defaults among its drives.

    Those 6 drives are intended for big datafiles, so I make the blocksize 4kb as compared to the default 1kb. This means 1/4 the number if indirect blocks. Also, since its big files, there aren't a lot of directories so it doesn't have to scan through them. Those directories that there are only require 1/4 the time to read because they are 1/4 the number of blocks. (I assume that sequential reads are relatively free because seek time should be the main cost.)

    Then, I formatted it at one inode per 128kb, as compared to the default of one inode for every 4kb. This drops the number of inodes fsck has to read off the disk by a factor of 30 to only 69632 (compared to >2 million in the default format). (FSCK *has* to read off each inode, to check if the file is orphaned.) I think that this here is the main speed improvement. It also frees an extra 120mb of drivespace. (drivespace that an fsck would have to read in.)

    Remember, since you can never create new inodes, so the default format always starts you with a large amount of them, usually an insane number of extra ones.

    What I'm saying is to format your drives appropriately for their planned usage. FSCK's don't always have to be that painful.

    If you need that huge quantity of extra inodes and also have to save the data, than you are screwed. If you don't need all the inodes, then formatting a filesystem without them is a lot more effecient. And if you don't need to save the data (say, a cache server), then it may be faster to just reformat it upon each boot.

    If none of the above apply, then yes, with the current version of ext2, it is very painful to fsck a 20gb filesystem that has 3 million files on it. :)

  • These are very good tips. (In particular, I had missed the "1 inode per 4K bytes" bit in my brief encounter with the mke2fs manpage, but indeed that's the default.)

    BTW, for the curious, the magic incantation that produces the above set of parameters is like so: mke2fs -b 4096 -i 131072 /dev/ whatever

    I have a 17Gb hard-drive that I use for CD-ROM images for when I build music-compilation CDRs. These tips would work great on this HD, particularly for the odd case when I have to fsck. Note that a 4Kb cluster size should also speed up most other operations on large files, particularly those which require synchronous metadata updates, such as rm's.

    (Note: I've only had one Linux kernel crash that I can remember since getting this drive, due to some strange interaction between burning a CD, playing a WAV file and insmod'ing the floppy driver from kerneld on a kernel that would have preferred kmod. The rest have been stupids like bumping the power switch, having a UPS go bad, etc.)

  • Well I've seen some people set their systems to fsck every time it reboots. Moreover, there are more ways to slow a reboot than just a fsck -- In fact, I think most of the reboot time (under Linux) comes from unmounting filesystems that are no longer there (read: NFS). Linux times out on these unmounts, but if you had a large number of network mounts and then your net-connection died, it would be a long shutdown.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • REM ha.. I win!
  • insane (and unknown to him) reason the dallas PCs were authenticating against the Chicago servers.

    There's a sound reason for this, it's so you can have central administration for all users regardless of physical location. This is useful if you have resources spread throughout your organisation which must be shared to a wide range of different users, or if you have a central HR organisation. It means a single sign on and easy ACL administration.

    The correct way to do it is to have a PDC+BDC in your main office, and a BDC in each remote office. You want another BDC in each office for every 2000 users. This arrangement scales up to about 40,000 users in a single domain, then you'll need to move to a multiple master domain.

  • by Observer ( 91365 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @03:55AM (#1578806)'s been going on for many years. The fastest boot sequence of any reasonably general purpose OS I've encountered was on Univac 494/Omega that I worked on back in the early 70s (when it was already nearing the end of its lifetime): given suitable peripherals it could boot and have the online workload running again in under 10 seconds - because it had been designed for a target market which could not tolerate extended outages. And because the machine had a maximum of 262Kwords of memory, and ran at only about 1.2Mips, there was a premium on careful programming that used resources efficiently. Even then, though, it was clear that the trend was towards the cost of implementation and maintainance of application software exceeding that of the raw processing power, so that it became increasingly cost-effective to use less expert implementors and to provide them with tools that traded implementation time against run-time performance. And that is a perfectly reasonable and defensible way of proceeding, provided that the various costs are taken fully into account.

    However, there's a big difference between making a considered guestimate of the price of processing power over the likely lifecyle of a project and using these resources accordingly, and making the mistake of thinking that "cheap" resources are "free", and placing no constraints on their use (or, equivalently, blindly assuming that available systems will be fast enough to run the product by the time it is released). In the old days, if you did this you were liable to fail to meet contractual performance criteria, so there was a fairly direct feedback mechanism that kept product performance reasonably compatible with the capabilities of the platforms on which the products ran. More recently, with commodity pricing for software products, this feedback loop has been broken, and the costs of poor implementation practices are now born disproportionally by the customers - whether by being forced to replace systems more frequently, or with outages after major software failures becoming longer, or by finding that the newest products increasingly manifest inconsistent and unpredictable failure modes.

    It's interesting, in this regard, that there have been rumours that MS may be considering leasing of its products rather than (or more likely in addition to) the customary "shrink-wrapped" sales. Major corporate users might just be interested in this approach, if it gave them some contractual leverage when the fitness for use of a particular product was less than satisfactory.

    Just don't hold your breath :-(
  • "(a Linux advocacy page apparently)"
    Look at recent stuff on the home page. It's running on Linux now, but apparently it was on NT two boots ago. Maybe it's advocating Linux now, but not out of not trying other things.
  • What is funny about this type of thing is that IE5 actually INCREASES the reboot time on all machines, becouse i automagically loads all of the IE DLL's into memory. Then they proceed to do ads stating how fast IE is.. Well sure, they preinit everything at startup, and your time is moved from when you click to when you turn on the machine. Not to mention the simply swap issue under low memory conditions..
  • I have heard of a machine that took six DAYS to boot. Running a netscape server (I think a news server product?). Lots of files (millions?) on a very big, very slow drive. took six days to finish running chkdsk when it restarted.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.