Operating System

After mounting an extra CDROM and DVD-R into our new workstation, it was time to load the operating system. Since our requirement was to have multiple websites, we decided to go with Windows 2003 Server Standard. That's right, a server OS instead of a desktop/workstation OS. Windows XP has served me well, but my daily focus is web development, and Windows 2003 fits that requirement right now.

To make the transition smoother to Windows 2003, I did some research on converting the operating system into more of a workstation environment. I found a great website that goes through all of the tips and tricks of customizing the OS for workstation use. Obviously, I'm not the only one who feels the pain of Windows XP's single site limitation. I'll outline the changes that I made below. They are all detailed in the tutorial located here (http://www.msfn.org/win2k3/).

Desktop/Theme changes

By default, Windows 2003 uses the classic theme. I used to prefer it over the funky blue in Windows XP. But, over the years, I got used to the funky blue and now prefer it over the classic theme. To enable the Windows XP themes, all you have to do is start the themes service from the Services panel - it's that easy. I also enlarged the icon size in Internet Explorer by right-clicking on the toolbar in IE and choosing Toolbars, Customize and Change the Icon Size to large (XP Default). Lastly, by default, Windows 2003 Icons are not transparent on the desktop. By following the instructions here, you can enable transparent icons.

Core Operating System changes

The first alteration for the core operating system was to modify the focus of the OS resources by changing its focus from background services to programs. You do this by going to System in the control panel, click on Advanced, then Performance Settings, and then select the Advanced tab. Change the processor scheduling to Programs instead of Services, and Memory Usage to programs instead of System Cache. Next was disabling IE security enhancements, which is that annoying feature that asks you to add the "safe" URLs before visiting them. This is simple; just go to the Control Panel, add Remove Programs, add/remove Windows Components and remove Internet Explorer Enhanced Security. Next, I removed the Shutdown Tracker functionality that is equally as annoying. For this change, click Start, then Run and type gpedit.msc. This brings up the Group Policy Editor. Open Computer Configuration, Administrative templates, System, and in the right window pane, look for Display Shutdown Event Tracker. Double-click on this, and choose "disabled" and then hit OK.

After dealing with the minor annoyances, it was time to bring the OS up to snuff for the occasional gaming. I installed Direct X 9 by going through MSFN's tutorial (http://www.msfn.org/win2k3/directx.htm).

One of the most useful parts of Windows XP is Remote Desktop - I use it all the time. Windows 2003 also uses Remote Desktop, but each Remote Desktop connection starts a new windows session; meaning, you aren't connecting to your running console login. Windows XP only supports one remote connection, which is why it defaults to the current console. To do this, all you have to do is start up Remote Desktop, select Options and fill in the configuration details. Then choose "Save As" to save the configuration information. Open that file with notepad (it's just an .INI file), and add the following line to the end of the config file: connect to console:i:1. Now, whenever you connect to your Windows 2003 workstation, it will connect to the first console.

So, after a day or so of installing some hardware into our new workstation and configuring the operating system, we are left with a fast, reliable workstation that is ready for work.

The New Powerhouse
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  • a3217055 - Sunday, September 12, 2004 - link

    Why don't you use Linux, it will be better faster and cheaper. But then again if a big corpration is promoting hardware for Anandtech to use so ...
    Anyway but you should use what ever you feel like. After this is a job and in the end you gotta get the job done.
  • Questar - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    Please test workstations in the manner they are used, i.e. heavy multitasking situations.
  • gherald - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    I would like to see an Opteron vs Nocona article using Gentoo AMD64 with GCC 3.4.2 and
    CFLAGS="-O2 -pipe -funit-at-a-time"

    USE="nptl" when compiling glibc would also be nice.
  • ncage - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    Jason i know what i would like included in the benchmarks if you have time to do it:

    1) SQL Sever 2000 DEFINITLY; Preferably with Net Server
    2) SUSE 64 bit Linux with 64 bit MySQL would be an awesome test too.
  • T8000 - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    This looks like a very good video editing system to me. Could you include Adobe Premiere Pro in your upcoming review to see if it is.

    Preferably with some HDTV footage, as this is getting more common in large screen live video presentations and it takes long enough to edit to see very large improvements here.
  • fritz64 - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    Good Article Jason
    Most of you guys have not really respond to Jason's request. I will particularly like to see benches on
    scientific computing(say parallel Molecular Dynamics). GROMAC is freely available and runs fine on windows. This will task the FPU and NUMA capability of Nacona and Opteron dualies. Nacona with Hypertrading turn on can also be compared with HT turned off. If you can, try to bench any Chess program with parallel CPU support to gve us an idea of the Integer Unit performance.
  • val - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    Ecmaster76: My professor once said us: independent journalist is the one who takes from both :-).
    And nooo, i am realy not dreaming about to have such a system at home... Noooo sure not!
  • RZaakir - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    This is interesting, but setting up the 2003 server seems like overkill. I have been able to do multiple site .NET development on XP IIS pretty easily. All that you have to do is make a folder under the web root of the site and then turn that folder into an application by opening the IIS manager and going to properties of that folder and clicking the create button under application settings. That way http://localhost/foldername) would be an individual project. You could repeat this as many times as you wanted.

    Since they are applications, your bin folder and web.config files should sit in the root of these folders like any other .NET application. Maybe I missed something, but the only way that this wouldn't work is if you had some sort of per project need for host headers, custom error pages, or performance throttling. I have to say that only use VS.NET to build my assemblies and I use Dreamweaver MX for my layouts and bindings. I tried using VS.NET for everything but Dreamweaver is head and shoulders better when it comes to HTML / CSS. I say that to say that again, I may be missing something.

    Whatever the case, clearly you guys had the resources to splurge so go for it. I would love to have a setup like that (though with dual Optys :)).
  • STaSh - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link

    You don't need to edit any ini files to connect to session 0 (the console) on a 2003 machine. That ability is already there.

    Just type "mstsc /console" from the run line.

    Or you could type "mstsc /console /v:servername" to connect directly to the machine.
  • Brickster - Friday, September 10, 2004 - link


    Thanks for the article! I find it really awesome that you guys put these together and actually talk about Anandtech's experience with hosting such a site.

    It's like reading a really good white paper that just keeps going; a good story that never ends.

    Keep up the good work!


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