We have Moodle running on an Apple G5 desktop (no server software) dual 1.8GHz processor with 2Gb RAM and a 160 Gb hard drive, of which we are currently using 12 Gb. We have 157 courses and 1179 users. Next semester we expect our user population to increase by 100-200 and we expect the courses to double, or even triple in the next two years.
Please also comment on the difficulty and/or challenge of migrating from one operating system to another. Would it be best for us to migrate to a Mac XServe since we currently have a G5 desktop?
Migrating from one OS to another is not that difficult because all web servers work in a similar way. The most important part for your migration is you database. If you want to have a scalable system then you need to have a good architecture. My suggestion is to setup your Moodle system in a Load Balanced environment.
Minimum 2 machines for web servers.
Minimum 1 machine for database server
Minimum 1 machine for NFS server (a NAS system with dual Gigabit NIC)
Minimum 1 Load Balancer (I would suggest 2 for failover)
Minimum 1 Firewall (I would suggest 2 for failover)
Of course, server machines are better than desktop machines because server machine are built and meant for 24/7 operations.
I have posted some information about my lab setup for Moodle System on the forum:
Let me know if you have any question.
Could you give more details of the setup you've described? A network diagram would be also very usefull.
Unfortunately, I don't have a current network diagram that I am able to share.
Our current web server is Unix running Apache, but we want to run Moodle on its own server. I already described the desktop machine that we are currently running it on in my initial post. I am looking for hardware and operating system recommendations. Many of our appication servers are Linux, so it seems that it would make sense for us to build a Moodle server using Linux, but I was curious to know if we would run into challenges if we changed operating systems. We do not currently have any other Mac servers.
then I'd highly recommend a unix or linux box as your user load startst to scale. If you want support, we've had pretty good luck with Red Hat Enterprise (better than M$ or Apple, certainly.
MacOX is a great OS, but it falls apart at high user loads, esp. when running a database.
Rather than an OXServe, get a dual xeon or opteron (the real geeks here say opteron, get 4GB RAM, RAID if you can afford it. You should be fine up to ~10k users on that, though it is always a good idea if you can afford it to run the database on a separate machine from the Apache/PHP server, or start moving toward a real cluster if (multiple Apache/PHP servers) if you are going to have high concurrent access. For a 'normal' LMS load (~10% concurrency), a dual xeon should be fine up to ~10k users.
It is important to know the network connectivity, as that can cause a bottleneck if you max out your network, that has nothing to do with the server hardware.
If you are going to do alot of video or audio, keep the Mac server as a video/audio serving machine, that is what we did with our old Xserv that we used to run Moodle on), it serves fine for that purpose and helps take the load off the main Moodle server.
Your target for the next two years, 2500 users, 500 courses is not a big deal unless you plan chat sessions or simultanous e-testing in big class rooms (50 or more).
If the usage is _asynchronous_ there is a good chance that your Apple server could last those two years. I have no experience with OS X on G5, but there were some negative reports on this subject. See http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2436&p=6
May be worth giving a try if you are low on budget. In any case do a serious evaluation on other Unixes too.