Due to two stupidities in the Drupal content management system, this article has to be published before it is finished. Ignore it until finished.
Web site development on your own computer is easier and quicker than setting up a server. If you do not need to share the development work, use the computer you use for everything else. When you do share development with other people, you can run quick tests on your own computer.
This article is about Web site development uses Apache, MySQL, and PHP for the examples. You can substitute similar Web servers, databases, and programming languages.
Web site development works best on desktop workstations and large notebooks. You need a screen bigger than the target screen size so you can open your Web page in a full development environment. You often need before and after comparisons site by side. The old format full height 24" screen with a resolution of 1920 * 1200 pixels works for most development. The modern low height wide screen 24" screen has a resolution of only 1920 * 1080 and does not have the vertical height. For the low wide screens, experiment with moving menu bars to the side of the screen.
What constitutes a large notebook for web development? Screen size is already covered. We then need fast disk access. Some notebooks can have two disks with the second disk replacing the DVD drive. The alternative is a second disk on a USB 3 port or an eSATA port. USB 2 and network connections are too slow.
There are notebooks that give you the choice between a DVD drive or a second disk. Who wants to watch a movie when we can strip a Web site down to raw code and play with SQL? We perform best with a second disk.
An external disk also works when connected by USB 3 or eSATA. USB 2 is too slow. USB 3 also has a special advantage over USB 2 and eSATA, USB 3 provides far more power, enough for big fast disks.
A desktop workstation is a desktop computer with a fast processor, the maximum memory, and several disks. You might have the system partition on an SSD and the Web site on a separate SSD. The second disk could be a couple of magnetic disks in a RAID 1 array or two SSDs in a RAID 1 array.
My next computer will have the system disk set up as a couple of OCZ Agility 3 60 GB SSDs in a RAID 1 array and the Web sites on separate OCZ vertex 3 256 GB SSDs in a RAID 1 array. The only problem is finding a motherboard with four SATA III ports.
Windows or Linux?
Windows and Linux configurations have only one real difference. In Windows you set up your two disks as two drives identified by letters. I use the default
c: for the system disk and
h: for the Web disk because it is usually called
home in Web servers and hosting accounts. On Linux, I assign
/home to the second disk or second array.
The world's most popular desktop Linux is Ubuntu and Ubuntu does not support RAID in the desktop version. The non RAID configurations on this page are easy in Ubuntu. The RAID configurations require the Ubuntu alternate distribution and the alternate distribution has a painful RAID configuration during installation.
Advanced Format disks
Disks hit a 2 GB limit because of stupid restrictions imposed on disks in 1980. before 1980, PCs used CP/M and a variety of disk sizes with different sector sizes. In 1980, IBM released their PC with DOS written by Microsoft and sector sizes artificially frozen at 512 bytes. That 512 byte sector size limitation combined with a limitation to the number of sectors and produced a 2.2 GB limit.
Wikipedia says the move to larger sectors started in 1998. That fantasy might be believable if you look only at what happened in America and ignore every discussion about sector sizes before 1998. The truth is 1024 byte sectors were discussed in the 1980s and 4096 byte sectors in the early 1990s. Microsoft NT was released in 1993 with NTFS using a mixture of 1 KiloByte and 4 KB blocks. At that time I was already asking hardware suppliers for 4 KB sector disks and changed my request to 1 KB for NTFS.
The Advanced Format disks are a backward step hiding 4 KB sectors behind a pathetic emulation system that randomly destroys performance for the sole purpose of letting everybody, Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, do nothing for many more years. All SSDs are under the 2 GB size limitation for conventional disks. Hopefully the computer industry will be able to repair their broken designs to use disks larger than 2 GB before SSDs reach 2 GB.