Archive for the 'Computers' Category

Servers, You Gotta Love them…

January 8th, 2009

My home network is more complicated then most. I host some web sites, my email servers, and various other ancillary services that the average person doesn’t need, or want to worry about. As an IT person though it behooves me to have a test bed to try out new things, without the risk of losing company data.

In recent years I have been using IPCop as the gateway between my home network and the outside world. Generally speaking, it’s worked just great. I rarely had to reboot it and the web interface was usable, if slow. The only draw back for me is that they don’t seem to favor low power machines. Sure, you could build a smallish computer using less then 100 watts and run IPCop on it but when you are talking about handing some basic routing for internet access and the like that sure seems like an insane amount of energy to be using 24 hours a day 7 days a week. IPCop was, as far as I can tell, designed to be run on old hardware; It’s for that computer you don’t use anymore but can’t throw away. I had been using it on an old PII 500Mhz setup and was happy to be re-using the machine. That machine though has finally bit the dust and needs to be replaced.

Norco DS-1220, Linux, and Green Hard Drives…

December 5th, 2008

I’ve had my Norco DS-1220 for six or seven months now and have some time to adjust to it and really feel out it’s performance. When I first setup the system (transitioning from the Thecus), I had a 2TB RAID 5 array built with 5 500GB Western Digital Caviars. When the array was at around 95% capacity I decided to add more storage and began looking for the most cost effective way to do that. I always use generic 3.5″ drives and I usually pay as close to $100 each for them as possible. Typically when the time comes for me to add storage it makes sense to double my capacity and Murhpy’s law always seems to work out that drives twice as large as the one I am replacing are at about $100 each.

This time around I paid a bit more then usual for the ‘WD10EACS‘ from Newegg. I bought the ‘Recertified’ version though which shaved about $20 per drive off the price and brought it to $109/drive.

Moving db400971999 to a New Server

July 23rd, 2008

Some unnecessary blog information is to follow:

I have move Topslakr.com to a new VM. It was a mostly painless project once I wrapped my mind around what needed to be done. The problem was that Topslakr.com was being hosted on a fairly old version of Mandriva and I wasn’t confident that it was getting the updates it needed to stay secure. The solution in my mind was a move the site to a newer version of Linux that would get those updates and be supported for a longer amount of time.

The process wasn’t too bad. I setup a new VM running Linux and installed the LAMP stack that I needed to host db400971999, this included Apache, PHP and MySQL. Once that was done I created my database in MySQL and setup the permissions for the website to access it. I then download and put in place the latest version of db400971999. I didn’t bother doing any setup or configuration to it. I then exported my database from the existing topslakr.com using the WP-DB-Backup Plugin which is quick and painless. You choose the tables to backup and a minute or so later you are presented with a compressed sql file that you can save to your local machine.

Apple Leopard Server: Two Weeks Later

May 28th, 2008

So, it’s been installed and running for two weeks. I think I made it pretty clear in the first review that it’s good but not perfect, nothing is and over the past 14 days I’ve had a chance to really dig in and learn new things and fix some problems.

Review: Apple’s Leopard Server

May 22nd, 2008

As you may have read in my twitter feed, I have installed Mac OS X Leopard Server on a basically stock Mac Mini for my personal use. The Mini hosts email and webmail, calendars, directory services and a VPN without any problems at all.

For a little bit of background, by day I am a Windows and Linux admin and am responsible for about dozen servers and ~750 users. I am very comfortable with servers and how they work so this setup was not my first go in the world of servers. This web server is hosted on one of my Linux servers as a matter of fact.

First let’s look at the hardware and where it excels and falls short. The mini is a very small box, it’s 6.5″ square and 2″ tall. It includes within that space a processor, RAM, CD drive (in my case a CD-RW/DVD-ROM, other options are available), hard drive a good offering of ports including Firewire 400, USB 2.0, DVI/VGA video as well as bluetooth and WiFi. They manage to fit this all in by using clever engineering and basically all laptop parts. It’s a great and very quiet machine. The Mini’s hardware offers plenty of power for personal use, family use or a small office with one exception, hard drive speed and redundancy.

Review: Norco DS-1220

March 18th, 2008

The DS-1220 is great. It was dead easy to setup and has caused me to trouble at all. I installed Fedora 8 in the days leading up to the delivery the the DS-1220 based solely on the fact that I saw something on the web that said the controller card worked in Fedora. Come to find out the drivers for the card are actually available in the current kernel and most distributions are coming with the driver available as a module. I did nothing to setup or install the Norco DS-1220 at all.

Storage Update: Picking up the Pieces

March 10th, 2008

Well, I have placed an order for the Norco DS-1220. I ordered it from Newegg.com as an open box item. It’s a bit of a gamble, for couple of reason. The first is because open box from Newegg means someone sent it back. It may have all of it’s parts, it may be missing some parts. Newegg will not help you out if the package is incomplete.. but it did save me $180. Newegg does offer a 15 day return policy on the item though so if it shows up and is missing some critical I can send it back and buy the non-open box version, albeit it at te $180 premium. Worth a try for $180.

Thecus: Dead again….

March 6th, 2008

You would think I’d have learned my lesson already. I’ve been using my Thecus N5200 for a while now and, like clockwork, every 6 months it just dies. I’ve blogged about it before here, a lot, here are some of the posts.

Briefly, I had the drive in bay 1 fail again. It’s always that drive. No errors on the disk the Thecus just looses it. No errors in the logs, no bad sectors, it just disappears. So, I pull the drive out, format it, test it and put it back in. I log into the interface, tell the Thecus to use the disk I just put in as a spare which causes it to rebuild the array. This all went fine. The funny thing was I wasn’t able to use the array during the rebuild. It only takes about 8hrs to rebuild the 2TB so it’s no a big deal; It ran while I was at work. Usually, the array is accessible during the rebuild, though it performs a bit slower. When I returned from work I watched it finish up the rebuild and I then tried to access it. No luck. My Mac wouldn’t connect. I then tried it from my 2003 server, same issue. I am only able to access it over NFS on my linux server, read only.

Macbook Battery Life

January 23rd, 2008

I’ve just replaced the battery in my first generation Apple Macbook, well worth the $129 dollars. For such a small battery I was always amazed that I was able to get more then 5 hours of battery life and about 9 months ago when it started to drop off a bit I realized how great that was.

I will admit that to get better then 5 hours use has to be pretty minimal, but if I’m in a meeting or surfing the web while relaxing with the screen’s brightness down to it’s lowest setting I have no trouble keeping it alive for 5 hours. If you are editing photos or watching a movie that number comes down to about 3.5-4 hours depending on screen brightness.

I’ll be honest though, I like the screen to be not too much brighter then ambient light. If I’m at my office with the laptop right next to the window I’ll crank it up but in the evenings I don’t want the screen ultra-bright.

Thecus N5200 Failure…. Again

January 12th, 2008

Wow, this is getting old. 36 days in and I’ve had another drive fail.. only not really. Sure the N5200 thinks it’s failed but if I pull the disk out and pop in back in, the array rebuilds and all is well. The logs show no errors on the drive, no bad reads or writes, it just disappears. What a wonderful device it is….

Also, even though the email test functions work the N5200 still does not send me email when something like this happens. I still have to log in every few days and check manually. Very nice….

Toplakr

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