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This is a re-make of this interesting question. I've rephrased it slightly to avoid pulling aggro and to provide some quality information, as I've pondered this before, but only JUST ran the numbers..

I am setting up a personal website to help me learn (PHP, MySQL, HTML, Javascript, CSS, etc)

I have the following machine laying around:

  • Pentium 4 HT @ 3.0GHz
  • 1GB of Memory
  • Plenty of Storage
  • A freshly registered domain for this project

My question is, for modern web technologies, is this machine sufficiently powerful? I want to keep my costs very minimal, so I'd rather use the hardware I have than rent a server or something.

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closed as too localized by random Aug 9 '11 at 23:19

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Not gonna lie, I was this close --> <-- to downvoting you for having a World of Warcraft link in the question. –  Breakthrough Aug 9 '11 at 23:07
    
@Breakthrough I was but a nbsp away?! Whoa, thanks for your charity! And I completely understand, reminding people of something so addictive is simply rude. And I apologize. –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:11
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This quickly dates and thus too localised. Having no definition of "sufficiently powerful" makes this NARQ. –  random Aug 9 '11 at 23:27
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@random - thank you for the explanation. That certainly helps. Maybe I should try to derive & show a solution to illustrate that personally hosting something on 8yr old hardware will always be more expensive than renting a VM on a decent datacenter? –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:30
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I agree with @random that this is too localized, and the wording of the question is ambiguous - it basically asks, "I have a computer with exactly these specs, can it do exactly this thing?" The info you presented in your answer is interesting though, and could fit on SU in a different format. If the question were worded more along the lines of "what steps would I need to take to configure a home server, and how would I determine what specs were sufficient" then it would be a better fit. Alternatively, a post about home servers would be appropriate for the SU blog. –  nhinkle Aug 10 '11 at 5:40
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

is this machine sufficiently powerful?

Yup, that will run it. But I don't think it's in your best interest, financially.


In this case, the "correct" answer "is" the free tier of Amazon's EC2. (or a similar service). It's pretty extremely awesome. If you pay for a 3yr term on a Micro Instance (that's $82), you'll likely save a fair bit of money:

Here's a little "proof" for you:

Assumptions:
 - Your P4 eats 200W while idle (a decent guess for a 3GHz machine)
 - You pay 0.07 $/kWhr
 - You'll leave your P4 on 24/7

200W = 0.2kW

3 yrs = 3 * 365 days/yr * 24 hrs/day = 26280 hours

Thus you'll need 0.2kW * 26280 hrs = 5256.0kWhrs

Which @ 0.07 $/kWhr will cost 0.07 $/kWhr * 5256kWhrs = 367.92 $

So, running your P4 will cost you a lot more. The numbers may be out a bit, but your P4 costs you an order of magnitude more, that's not small. If you're skeptical, still, go grab one of these to see how much power you're really dumping in to that old space-heater.

I've found that I get pretty far on the AWS EC2 free tier, so it may not even cost you anything, for what you're talking about. I'm running a production server on EC2 right now,

I run various things on Amazon micro instances, the 613MB of memory is plenty for web services. A good tip to know is that if you're running a machine with <4GB of RAM, then use 32 bit OSes - because running 64bit apps requires more memory for the same program, so unless you actually are using >4GB of memory, it doesn't matter.

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I'll add there are other hosting services that are cheaper still. Here's a seriously lean hosting service I use too: hostsign.co.uk/site/onedollarvps.html (which costs $1/mth - but is a lot leaner) –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:09
    
Also - for those that read this question many years from now (presumably).. Obviously you can apply the same kind of rationale to the math. Drop in your actual values then and work it out the same way. –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:52
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wait wait wait, if it's the "free tier" why is it $82? Also 613mb seems really tiny. Can you run the numbers for a saner amount of EC2 memory like say 2 GB? –  Jeff Atwood Sep 1 '11 at 10:24
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This will be more than powerful enough to run you test/development environment; however, it will be MUCH cheaper for you to rent some web hosting from a company. (Just in terms of power used by this machine per month).

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You sir, are correct, as per my above proof. I'll reiterate, I only posted this question as a remake of one that was closed as I was submitting my above answer, where I show why you're correct. –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:06
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Yes you can run linux and a web server on even less.

Don't forget though that your own PC is good enough to act as a web server and learn on. I assume you have a windows PC? Install the WAMP server which comes with Apache, mysql & php already configured up. It's the quickest way to get up and running on the local machine IMHO.

http://www.wampserver.com/en/

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+1 Great suggestion, WAMP is awesome. And so very very portable. –  Doc Aug 9 '11 at 23:21
    
If you want to run a LAMP server from your Windows machine, Oracle VM VirtualBox works well. (I have done CentOS and Ubuntu Server 12.04 on it.) –  TecBrat Apr 17 at 15:46
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