I don't feel like running the risk of suspended accounts with web hosts any longer. ITS here does not want to deal with php scripting, and my department will not reimburse me for web hosting fees as budgets are tight (plus, they're paying through the nose for WebCT). So I'm thinking of setting up a server myself.
Thanks in advance.
Chug, chug, chug, I could even hear it spin and whirl when my students were hitting the books.
Tom may have more specific recommendations, but disk space probably isn't going to be an issue unless your students are uploading very large files. Moodle doesn't use much disk space in and of itself, and the text forum messages don't use much either. You may want some extra RAM, though.
The critical factor is how many students will try to use the system at the same time, not how many there are altogether. If you aren't doing a lot of synchronous activities (like chats) that machine might work fine. We went to a faster machine because we were running a lot of chats (this was before the chat daemon was introduced). I think we'd have been fine on the old machine other than that.
You may want to schedule the deadlines for different courses so they fall at different times, if you can manage it. Since students will be students, you can count on them all trying to log in ten minutes before the assignment is due.
The number of simultaneous users is indeed the crux of the matter. Right now, I'm curious: how many users constitutes a real strain on any system? To avoid having problems with shared web hosts, I do need another solution. So I may go ahead and try the ol' G4 since you and Tom were able to do so. No chat or much synchronous activity on my sites. More an e-syllabus with links and assignments.
Thanks again. I appreciate all your help.
200-300 students no problem if they doing things at different times. If you have lab times where they all sit down together to work on moodle, you will experience slowdowns after 20 users, long waits at 30 students, and stoppage over 50 students. RAM is the only thing to worry about--the above figures are based 800MB RAM. 1-2GB RAM will get you better performance. Don't even try chats.
We ran a couple courses with hundred or so participants on a g3400/500mb Ram on a 10mbit line, without overly taxing the system (that was Moodle 1.1).
Feel free to drop me an email sometime about teaching lit with Moodle. I'll share whatever tricks I've dug up so far.
From what you've shared with me, this weekend I may try converting my desktop computer into a server. Thanks for the very informative instructions Don. If things don't go smoothly, I may be contacting you Tom to set something up (provided I get access to my old account with the web host; I think they generally like to punish any abusers by leaving them in the dark a few days). And thanks for the offer to share your experience using Moodle to teach literature. I would like to hear about some of your tricks.
Sorry for my overly brief comment on chats. I meant that for groups of students under the old system. Office hours with 1-3 students should work even under the old system. I haven't tried the new daemon, but sounds like a huge improvement.
Of course, contact me anytime. You might try Skype too. My Skype name is "hinkelman".