A typical IS4C lane set up includes a fairly standard PC
and a few peripherals.
- PC Requirements: pretty lightweight. It's probably not possible to buy a new
PC that isn't capable of running IS4C with acceptable performance. RAM is usually
the biggest bottleneck, but even then many stores are operating registers with
less than the 2-4GB that's practically standard these days. Multi-core likely helps
with the database+webserver workload, but again that's pretty common now. Disk space
is dirt cheap; just get something in the 250GB range and never worry about it again.
would be a nice boost if you have infrastructure for it through out, but certainly
isn't a requirement. Be aware that many POS peripherals rely on PC ports -
serial, parallel, and ps/2 - that are rapidly disappearing on newer PCs, especially
if you get something in a small form factor. USB adapters are usually a workable solution.
- Scanner-Scale: nearly all existing code is targeted for and tested on
DataLogic Magellan 8xxx series scales. Go with one of these.
- Receipt Printer: again, the easiest solution is to recommend what's already in
use: Epson TM-H6000II. Other Epson POS printers may speak a similar enough
dialect to be useable. If other stores are using different models, we should
add them to this list.
- Cash Drawer: anything that's compatible with your printer (POS cash drawers
typically connect to receipt printers).
- Keyboard: IS4C is best operated using a programmable keyboard. The QWERTY keys
are used when looking up members or products by name; exactly how many programmable
keys you need will vary by how many tenders you accept, departments/products you
need shortcuts for, etc. Aim high. It's far better to have extra keys than to
run out. A double-zero button on the number pad and an over-sized enter button
are both handy features that are reasonably common on POS-keyboards.
- Mouse: strictly speaking, you don't need one, but it's nice for OS-related
stuff like shutting down or restarting a machine (especially when a programmed
keyboard lacks some normal characters & navigation keys). A trackball is
a nice solution for tighter spaces.
- Monitor(s): it's far easier to operate with one. IS4C works fine in 1024x768
or ever 800x600. Finding an incompatible display ought to be nearly impossible.
For separate customer and cashier displays, just put in a simple VGA splitter
to send the same output to both monitors.
You want some more serious horsepower here. Overall performance is tied to
database performance, which again is bottlenecked principally by RAM. Disk space
is a slightly greater concern here than on the lanes because transaction history
grows continuously and you'll likely want local and external backups. For
reference, WFC runs ~40,000 transactions a day and has a transaction history
dating back to late 2004 a full database back up is ~14GB. That's not perfectly
indicative of growth rate; our transactions per day have increased over the
same time period, but in a world where disks are measured in hundreds of GBs
(if not in TBs) running out of space isn't a big issue. Now, options:
- If you're going to use one server:
- Get a multi-core, 64-bit processor. 64 bit software is mature enough
that the extra RAM ceiling is worth having, even if you start out
with 4GB or less.
- Get a bunch of RAM. 4GB with slots open for expanion is probably
a good starting point. If you can afford more, more is always
- Get a bunch of disk space. 250GB is probably sufficient for a long
time. Fast disks will help database performance. An SSD plus
a normal disk for backups might be the best option these days
(as opposed to SAS/SCSI RAID array), both in price/performance
ratio and ease of set up management. This would be strictly
a performance bonsus; IS4C will run fine on a 7200RPM SATA
disk. Two physicals disks total is a good idea to protect
local backups from a single drive failure.
- Gigabit ethernet would be nice if your infrastructure supports it
- Dual NICs could be handy if you want POS separated from the rest
of your network.
- If you're going to use two servers:
- Get a heavier duty machine exactly as above. Put the database on this machine.
- Get a lighter weight machine and put Apache+Fannie on that. This is a much lower
workload. Basically anything you can lay hands on will be sufficient.
- Advantages of this set up include:
- DB Server can dedicate all resources to the most intensive task.
- Dual servers provide convenient backup locations for each other.
You still want off sites of course, but this protects you in
the event of a dead disk controller, exploding power supply.
or other "entire machine" failure
- If the Apache machine has dual NICs, the demarcation between POS
and non-POS networks is cleaner. Firewall rules that simply
don't allow any traffic across that point are simpler than
rules permitting certain ports.
- If one machine fails, you can roll-over to a single server model
(quickly and easily if they have mutual backups) while waiting
for replacement parts or a replacement server. If the stronger
machine goes down, interim performance won't be ideal, but
it will at least be functional.
- If you're going to use three servers:
Note: the three server set up is not officially supported yet. The main idea of this
set up is to alleviate pressure on the main POS server. The only database functionality
that's truly resource intensive is querying against a large segment of transaction data.
Shipping this data to a dedicated machine means complex or long term reporting - which
isn't really time-sensitive - won't bog down anything else.
- Get a lightweight machine for Apache + Fannie.
- Get a heavy duty machine for database work. Put historical transaction data
on this machine and use it to generate reports.
- Get a machine somewhere inbetween these two to act as the
Label-printing scales (Deli/Bulk/Prepack/Etc)
A few stores have had success sending data directly to Hobart Quantum TCP scales and there's
some basic support for it in Fannie. If it's something you're interested in, going with
that model is probably easiest; if you have a different model, try to find out if it supports
Hobart's Data GateWeigh utility. This utility is Windows-based, so you may need a dedicated
[ultra low resource] box just to run it (depending on other infrastructure, spare machines, etc).
Of note: when Quantum TCPs go into powersave/sleep mode, they seem to forget about wireless
settings. Just waking it up isn't sufficient to fix this; it takes a full powercycling. Unless
the scale is in fairly constant use through the day, this isn't the most useful feature.
Shelf tag are generated in 8.5" x 11" layouts. There's no special printer requirement for these.
We should probably make some layout for specific standards (Avery #s or something) rather than
the random, no-name stack WFC uses.