Friday, October 7, 2011

.. and another laptop post

No, this is not turning into a hardware blog now, no worries. I don't want to show off my gadgets either, not that the thing up there is one. It's again NWN2 related, trust me. :)

So, what about that lappy up there? Well, it's a cheapo laptop, Europeans will know what Lidl is (a supermarket) and what kind of hardware is sold there. I didn't buy that thing either, my dad did. Unfortunately, my dad passed away early last month and left me with the burden of all his stuff (no sympathies needed, we hadn't much contact, although I'm not exactly happy about the sudden loss).

Well, anyway, that lappy up there was his and it's as good as new since he obviously had no clue how to use it. It's recent enough to be not complete junk too, something like 2008 or so. Well, my first thought was, I don't need it. I already have a lubberlee lappy (see last post) and a big comp for all my stuff, so... sell? It's not worth much, I almost considered giving it away as a gift.
Then it occurred to me... when I was working on Middleforest, wasn't one of my big worries about running a PW having to get a dedicated server? One powerful enough to run the server application, but still with a low power consumption that you can hide away in a corner and forget about? My initial thought was getting a used Mac Mini, but even a used one costs money I usually don't have lying around. So... here's the solution, my new Middleforest dedicated server! Say Hi server! 

I already wiped the HD and installed a fresh NWN2, now I'm in the geekish process of reinstalling MySQL and NWNX2. All nothing compared to the router issues I'll have again, I'm sure. Anyway, this takes away a big burden from my past building plans, and I can leave a server up and running for test purposes now while building or playing elsewhere.

I'm still wondering about the specs though and would be interested in what other people with PW experience have used as a minimum server machine for NWN2. This lappy features a Pentium Dual Core T3200  processor at 2.00 Ghz (actually an entry-level Core 2 Duo Merom with no level 3 cache), which I figured should be enough for a server (my thought was that any dual core would do). 2GB RAM might or might not be sufficient (maybe someone has insights?), the HD runs at 5400rpm like most laptop HDs, not sure if this will affect performance. I doubt I'll ever see 20, maybe not even 10 regular players at once, so I doubt I'll need MMO specs. Anyway, if someone has NWN2 server experience or some tips, they'll be welcome.


Sherincall said...

Never worked with NWN2, so I'll assume it's the same as the first one..

I think you'll achieve better results by pawning the lappy and getting a (used?) desktop for that money. Not sure how much size and noise factor into your decision, but for everything else, you'll get a much better effect with a desktop.
For one, you don't need a graphics card, and they are the most expensive component.. Just get a nice used PC that has an acceptable CPU (like that one, maybe a bit better) and invest the rest in RAM (you'll need it).

Oh and, if you have some funds remaining, it might be a good idea to get an SSD instead of a HDD. Not sure exactly what the gain would be, but it should be noticeable.

The above assumes that the server program doesn't use the GPU for some computing, which I think it doesn't..

Casa said...

Thanks, Sherincall. My problems though:

- I don't have funds. :)

- I don't want another desktop case. I simply don't have room for another large case. I'd prefer something that can be hidden under the bed and never seen or heard again.

- I want to save power. My main desktop was running almost 24/7 for a while and boy did I see that on the electricity bill. If the comp has to run 24/7, I want the power consumption to be as low as possible.

My old plan was either getting a used Mac Mini (which wouldn't be much faster than this lappy I guess) or build a mini-PC. Both wouldn't have that much better Specs, safe for a slightly better CPU and more RAM. I think if the HD proves to be too slow, I can get a 7200rpm one or maybe a SSD later (I see why a SSD would be best, but they're way too expensive). RAM I guess is the last problem, upgrading to 4GB if needed is manageable (although I'd like to avoid even this cost). More than 4 though might be problematic, since DDR2 RAM has gotten more expensive and modules larger than 2GB are rarely seen.

As for the GPU, yeah, I only need onboard to check the server status. The lappy has a AMD 3470 chip which shouldn't eat much power, but could still run the game if I wanted to (I don't want to).

Michael A. Sinclair said...

I'm currently using an old (ca. 2004) desktop box for a dev server and it works fine. I'm running Ubuntu Server which, though it was a little hard to learn, is very light on system resources. I'll probably spend a few bucks on a more powerful box when I get closer to release.

Does NWN2 support Linux dedicated servers, or is it Windows-only? If the latter, you may wanna get a copy of some variant of Windows Server, as I imagine that would have a lower overhead and save you from having to spend more on RAM. It'll also make it easier to make changes remotely. (My Linux box is also a web server and SSH/SFTP capable, so I can access everything, even when I'm away, using my netbook.)

You should be fine on processing power, though. Proper module design will let you toss more into memory to save on processor cycles. Avoiding a lot of unnecessary or expensive scripts (e.g., heartbeats, OnHitCastSpells, etc.) will help limit the number of cycles you need.

Ultimately, my best advice is try it and see, then make do until you have the money for a bigger box if you need more power.

Sorry I can't be any more help than that. :(

Casa said...

I *think* I have it working now, if anyone wants to try if they can connect in Gamespy, feel free too, I'll leave it up for a bit. Tech Support section. Not much to see and do yet though, so don't go through the painful downloads unless you want to save the haks for later... not even sure if the ADL works.

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Hmm... I see it in GameSpy, but it says it's behind a firewall and, when I go to connect, it times out.

Casa said...

Still working on it, have faith and patience. I hope the next restart will fix it. :)

Michael A. Sinclair said...

It's working! Connecting now...

Sherincall said...

" may wanna get a copy of some variant of Windows Server..."

I could give you one of these, to save on the OS at least. MS gives us heaps of free software, for non-commercial use. I'm pretty sure this qualifies.

Casa said...

Well, it seems to behave very good so far, no crashes or anything but a Windows update shutting it down last night. Other than that it remained stable for the last 24 hours and people seem to be able to connect.
What happens with more players remains to be seen. I think there's not much need to do much more at this moment other than maybe install another RAM stick (which I ordered after finding a cheap source online). 3 or 4 Gigs should be enough for the moment.

The test server remains online unless I update or so, everyone who wants to grab haks or take a look is welcome to do so. Just keep in mind it's a test and there's nothing to do atm other than walking around.