13 September 2005

Replacing the number-plate separator

Not going to identify either customer or consultants involved here, but...

In the beginning, there was the Novell file server, and there was the MS-Windows 2000 MS-SQL Server, and there was the SomeRandomLinux Gateway server, and the happiness was general and the Delphi-based ADO-backed applications did download onto the MS-Windows workstations and run in their course.

The gateway server became upgraded to RedHat 9, and there was much rejoicing, but the SendMail did remain.

And then the Novell server was declared obsolete, and deemed in need of replacement, and so the Samba server was commissioned. And the SuSE flavour of Linux was duly chosen, of the ninth version, that migration from Novell might be sweet. The transition took place, and the network did run like a dog, and the file permissions did give suck, and the users were greatly offended and did seek to lay hands on the consultants.

Much confusion arose amongst those consultants, and much assignment of blame, and much running to and fro, and the smb.conf file did bear the scars of many tweaks, and eventually the consultants decided... to replace the Samba server with a humungous and costly Windows 2003 server, and to run the applications locally on that, and to supply the users with raw pixels through Terminal Services, which was fine as far as it went.

And then the management laid eye on the accounting for all of those “seats”, and did contemplate the spectre of a dozen users running RDP from a remote location through a thin ADSL uplink and at Telstra prices per megabyte, and much dung did bog up the waving ostrich feathers.

The programmer who wrote the software did some tests and consumed approximately 4 megabytes of data in two reasonably busy minutes, which is almost feasible at 64kb/s. Yours truly did the same and ran up 90 megabytes in about a third of a minute, which is well into “no way, Hosea” territory.

Yes, Virginia, there is a problem. But why solve it or even understand it when you can pave over it with MS-Windows licences and a truckload of expensive hardware? What? Do a network traffic dump? Preposterous!

And yet, faced with trolling through ninety megabytes of SMB crap in search of the root of the issue, I can see the merit in their approach...

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