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On the Internet the dominant operating systems among servers are UNIX-like open source distributions, such as those based on Linux and FreeBSD, with Windows Server also having a very significant share. Proprietary operating systems such as z/OS and macOS Server are also deployed, but in much smaller numbers.
Specialist server-oriented operating systems have traditionally had features such as:
• GUI not available or optional
• Ability to reconfigure and update both hardware and software to some extent without restart
• Advanced backup facilities to permit regular and frequent online backups of critical data
• Transparent data transfer between different volumes or devices
• Flexible and advanced networking capabilities
• Automation capabilities such as daemons in UNIX and services in Windows
Hardware requirement for servers vary widely, depending on the server's purpose and its software. Large servers Large traditional single servers would need to be run for long periods without interruption. Availability would have to be very high, making hardware reliability and durability extremely important. Mission-critical enterprise servers would be very fault tolerant and use specialized hardware with low failure rates in order to maximize uptime. Uninterruptible power supplies might be incorporated to insure against power failure. Servers typically include hardware redundancy such as dual power supplies, RAID disk systems, and ECC memory, along with extensive pre-boot memory testing and verification.
These types of servers are often housed in dedicated data centers. These will normally have very stable power and Internet and increased security. Noise is also less of a concern, but power consumption and heat output can be a serious issue. Server rooms are equipped with air conditioning devices. Clusters A server farm or server cluster is a collection of computer servers maintained by an organization to supply server functionality far beyond the capability of a single device. Modern data centers are now often built of very large clusters of much simpler servers, and there is a collaborative effort, Open Compute Project around this concept. Appliances A class of small specialist servers called network appliances are generally at the low end of the scale, often being smaller than common desktop computers.