We're a 3500 student California public charter school in San Diego that had been looking seriously at Blackboard and WebCT - but we will almost certainly Moodle instead! Our tiny IT department (myself and one PC tech, with three new hires this summer - I hope!) are fairly skilled with MS Server 2003, IIS 6, MS Sql Server and Active Directory.
My question - will Moodle, (perhaps also with the future integration of LAMS) perform so much better with Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP that we should take the plunge into LAMP?
We currently have 8 MS Server 2003 systems for our Student Information System, for online web collaboration (Macromedia Breeze 5), as well as a variety of other tools used by our administration such as MIP (for accounting) and ACT! (for new student contact management), etc. We're also gearing up to do content creation with Macromedia's Authorware, Captivate, etc., that are Windows Server 2003 hosted.
Summer is upon us, and we have a LOT of projects to take care of, so I ask this question from time opportunity standpoint, and less from a cost or open source vs. proprietary SW standpoint.
Presuming for a moment that we stick with MS Server 2003 and Active Directory, can we operate Moodle with:
- IIS 6 instead of Apache
- MS SQL server instead of MySQL
Thanks for all of your thoughts!!!
Eagles Peak Charter School
The difficulity of switching to LAMP will vary depending on the ability of the IT people to adapt to the changes. Moodle was/is developed on a LAMP installation, so you can be sure that it will operate on it well.
I wish not to start a flame war. However, the money you can save on licensing fees to Microsoft, you can use for training on the new platform. You may want to consult a Moodle Partner in the States to get a better idea about what you need and how to proceed. I also think that they have some training programs that can help you with a transition.
First of all I would like to underline what Bill said:
- Moodle was/is developed on a LAMP installation, so you can be sure that it will operate on it well.
- However, the money you can save on licensing fees to Microsoft, you can use for training on the new platform.
If you have been administering 8 school servers I'm sure you've got the fundamentals of networking and servers straight. You'll be surprised to see how simple the "big switching" to Linux world is. If you are still concerned there are specialized LAMP distributions: boot from CD, select few options, get the network setup, copy moodle content, run its setup-script. 
You may not go productive from the day one, but it is a future investment which you'll never regret: it is your first step out of the Microsoft proprietary lock!
Here you get a complete installation CD with LAMP+Moodle. The documentation is German, if there is enough interest getting it in english shouldn't be a problem.
That will probably get you through. You can switch to Apache2 but I'm unsure whether it'll actually mean better performance. Apache 1.3.x doesn't perform well at all under Win32.
As for a full-blown LAMP switch, it'll take you some effort to get profficient with the platform. So, while the top performance of a LAMP setup is better, you'd only be able to get there long-term. Short-term you'll get better results sticking to the tools you know well.
If you do need top performance (for many concurrent users, for example), it may be a good idea to explore contracting Moodle or LAMP experts in the area. Someone with experience should be able to setup and tune the system for a PHP web-app in a few hours.
If you do decide to try a Linux server, we've had good luck here with our Win2k server admins migrating to Red Hat Enterprise, the support from RH is as good or better than from MS.
PS, I know a couple of other folks in the San Diego area getting started with Moodle in K-12, send me an email if you'd like their contact info.
we're running a win2k3/IIS6 box with MySql and have had no issues - I plan on doing a brief paper comparing win2k3/iis and win2k3/apache running moodle - I have 2 new HP servers that should be available for me to use in the next few weeks to test hopefully! - I will be posting my findings here.
you would be best to run mysql instead of MSSQl - there is a bit of work going on around getting MS Sql working, but it is still in it's early stages....
Just be careful to test that php is actually running before you install moodle - getting the isapi version of php takes a little bit of configuration, but you should be fine.
Right now I need the following detailed comparison to decide upon the web-host/server for long-term:
LAMP vs Win2K/IIS 5/MySQL/Php.
There doesn't seem to be much debate around here on the "best" solution - however it depends slightly on your organisations Knowledge base. If you have the knowledge available to support a LAMP system - then you should go ahead with this.
I don't know of any "detailed comparision" that has been done comparing LAMP to WIMP, but I hope to get a comparison between WIMP and WAMP sometime in the next month or so - I've been delayed a bit by a few other projects. - if we're lucky I might get a chance to do a few tests on a LAMP system (same hardware spec) -but that won't be for a while.....
My question is... do you have a manual on how to configure Moodle on IIS? My problems are more with configuring PHP, MySQL (well, not MySQL, but PHPMyAdmin).
- Determine how close to saturation the server is now, and
- Measure the impact of the new workload as accurately as possible.
That wasn't always the case, and there are other considerations -- cost, availability of trained IT people in the technologies, and hardware -- which will weigh on your decision. But attainable performance is fine on Windows now. So don't be afraid to run Moodle on a Windows server if you've done your homework on 1 and 2 above.
That said, my web site is called http://linuxcapacityplanning.com for a reason. Namely, it's what I know, and because the Linux kernel and Apache are open source, I can get in there and find out what's going on at a very detailed microscopic level if I need to. I can't do that with Window or IIS; I have to hire an expensive person from Microsoft.
I've heard the same argument in different context. Isn't the statement "rhetorical"? Unless it is clear what is meant by "properly tuned" nobody can prove the contrary!
Anyway just happen to see this: http://research.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/LAMP_versus_WIMP
I guess the man behind the scene is a fellow Moolder: http://moodle.org/user/view.php?id=78158&course=5
The second case is a system that is "properly tuned" to run a specific application. In this case it's Moodle. The differentiators there from a performance perspective, again given identical hardware, are most likely to be the database performance and the speed of the PHP interpreter. The different kernels (Windows NT vs. Linux) and the serving of web pages are lesser factors. So here, by "properly tuned" I mean that the most efficient PHP interpreter for the platform is used and the database -- MySQL or PostgreSQL -- is optimized.
The one OS dependency I would want to investigate in depth would be the difference between the Windows NTFS filesystem and the various filesystems available for Linux. That said, a high-performance production server for almost any application, whether Windows or Linux, should have hardware RAID and the filesystem performance is a lesser concern in that case.
I haven't actually tested this, because I don't have access to a Windows system running Moodle, nor have I investigated PHP interpreters in depth. I am coming up to speed slowly on PostgreSQL optimization.
I would like to draw your attention to http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2436 and http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2520
In these two articles it is clearly stated that testing shows that Apple's kernel performance when running MySQL is far inferior to that of Linux's. In part the microkernel model seems to be to blame, even though other benchmarks (http://software.newsforge.com/software/04/12/27/1243207.shtml) show that standard flavors of BSD are quite on par with Linux when it comes to single-processor hardware. On multiprocessor hardware Linux has the upper hand.
just my $0.02
From a marketing /market niche / market share perspective, Apple servers seem to me more or less irrelevant. The big three are Solaris, Linux and Windows, not necessarily in that order.
i don´t have the time to discover linux at this time. With two kids i have to manage my time very serious.
So i read a lot about Wimp, wamp and Lamp. Now we have wimp running php as isapi and the performance is good on a one year old dual Xeon Intelserver (Board, SATA-RAID5 controller .... all from Intel). One problem was the cpu-usage (60 %) at a very high Chatload. So changing to 10 sec. chat reload has solved this behavior.
Its easier to buy a better hardware than to try something complete new.
I have a presentation in german for how to configure php 5 and mysql 4 on a w2K3 server for sharing here (a lot of screenshots included).