Monday, July 10, 2006

Server Rebuild Night 1

A couple of weeks ago, the hard drive on my local web server crashed. I had all of my personal development work, login information, tracked hours, and only God knows what else on that server.

All I gotta do is get a new drive and restore from backups, right?

I didn't back anything up. I never even meant for that system to become so very important. If I had, I probably wouldn't have gone with a used 800mhz compaq desktop machine I got from an Austin vendor in exchange for webwork.

But I did... and I must say, it ran great for a long time. Then, it all went away. I've preached to many a clients about the idiocy of not backing sensitive data up. I should eat my own dog food more often.

So tonight began the quest to get back on track. Perhaps making my first mistake, I started with yet another older system. I started to spent $600 for a new bottom-of-the-line Dell server, but I realized even that was far more horse power than I really need for a home server. Thus, I started with an old 1.2ghz AMD system with half a gig of ram that I'd recently gotten up and running from various scrap parts that have come my way.

I did spent about $200 to upgrade the drives from the single 20gig scsi drive to dual 250gig sata drives on a raid 1 array. I hated to pull the scsi drive as it was 10k rpms and would have been great to run the OS off of - but it was a noisey little cuss and getting pretty old so I pulled it out and put it aside.

I installed Ubuntu 6.whatever. Instead of the "manly" server install, I went ahead and dumped a full desktop install on the machine complete with all the xWindows goodness.

The video card that happened to be in the machine was an old nVidia Geforce 4, so I decide to poke around at display drivers which led me to this handy tut on XGL.

Setting up XGL went flawlessly and in about 20 minutes I was playing with those nifty new effects you see in the google videos. Now, I'm not one to get sea sick or car sick, but just a few minutes of those exaggerated effects and I got a bit nauseous. Some of the effects were damn nice, like the little preview windows when doing and alt-tab application switch. However, the overall package was little more than useless eye candy. Still, it's interesting to see what can be done. I hope that somewhere someone smart is thinking about how that extra power can be turned into something productive and useful.

And that's where my night ended. I got distracted and played with spare hardware for a couple of hours tonight. Had I spent that time working on contract work, I could have probably easily paid for the DELL server I didn't order. Still, I mostly enjoyed it and was able to get my server running TONIGHT instead of waiting for the new machine to be delivered.

I'm a LAMP developer, so I plan to do a fairly regular config... However, I do find myself wondering if I should play with other options such as lighttpd. I will likely also setup and play with Ruby on Rails since I'm a trend whore and all. Seriously, I hear it's good stuff. As mentioned in my previous post, I've intended to explore it for a little while now. I went so far as to set it up on a test server at the office, I just failed to actually go any further than the install before I had to do real work.

Thus, I will commit this completely useless blog post to the interweb and retire to my dreams for the evening. Good night world.

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