The "introduce yourself" thread

DaveyB
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby DaveyB » April 17th, 2014, 9:18 am

Hey all, and salutations from Phoenix, Arizona!

First off, thanks to Ian for taking the time and effort to post all the step by step guides! I wasn't aware of the media capabilities until I found this site, so now I have alot of new toys to play with!

Like some of the others here, I'm an old DOS-jockey, starting out on an IBM XT with 28kb of RAM and a single sided, 5 1/4" floppy booting from IBM DOS 1.2!! I still have, on the bookshelf, a copy of MS DOS 5.0, on 5 1/4" floppies, complete with license and manual, and still sealed in the original shrinkwrap!

I have been in the IT world for a good many years, and have worked with Plessey proprietary OS, IBM System 36, Unix, all the flavours of Windows, Warp 2, Sun OS (I have my own Sparc station sitting on the shelf gathering dust), telephone switchgear including GTD5 and Lucent's 5ESS and 5E and more recently with a Unisys 450 and a 750. I got stuck into Linux about 6-7 years ago, and started with Linux From Scratch (build your own distro) which really helped me understand it a lot better!

I just upgraded my desktop, so the old desktop became my new server. The old desktop was originally an HP, but all that remains of the HP stuff is the case. The PSU is a 500w Thermaltake, the motherboard is an ASUS (forget the model offhand) sporting a twin core AMD 4200 processor and 4 gigs of RAM. I pulled the NVidia 8900GT video card for another project, leaving just the onboard video, and also tossed the modem and front USB/media ports for more drive space.

Running Ubuntu server 13.10, the current boot drive is a 156G Seagate IDE, 56g as system and the rest as a "data" drive for shared space (for now). I have more drives to add to it yet including 4 300 gig ultra SCSI drives (15,000rpm! Oh yes!) as soon as I rescue my PCIe controller from another machine. Another reason the video card got tossed, only one PCIe slot on the mom board! I also have a couple of 500g SATA drives lying around, some with old data on, so I can upload those to the SCSI array, then wipe them and raid them together in a secondary group since the momboard does support raid 5 on the SATA ports.

The new desktop is running 14.04 and is an 8 core AMD with 16gigs of RAM, boots from a 128g SSD and a 500g SATA mounted to /home. That should keep me going for a while! I have a dedicated firewall/DHCP box, in an old blade server, 1g RAM, pentium something or another processor and an 80gig hard drive running on FreeBSD

I had the server all set up and running, shares working (no Samba, the only windows in the house have curtains on them!) and a whole bunch of add-ons from the media server project installed, but then I hit the "virtual machine" section, so I blew it all away and started over! Ram is really the issue for multiple VMs, and the motherboard is maxed out at 4 gigs, so I may invest in another, smaller SSD for the OS and swap files.

Another mini-server project I have in mind:- I have a lot of PC type DVD players lying around, so I may string them together in a single box as a back end server to the main server so I can have half a dozen movies loaded ready to stream, or ready to rip to the main drive arrays, at any time. This would also give me a second dedicated file server, where I can remove DVD drives and replace them with hard drives over time, almost treating it as an intelligent NAS.

My home network, such as it is, is mostly hard wired cat 6. I do my own wiring, so I have cable and connectors where I want them, and can quickly add a new drop if I need it since every drop I've pulled has at least one spare cable behind it. The whole thing hangs off a 24 port managed Cisco switch, and includes a Cisco/Linksys wifi router. The edge router is an ISP provided cable modem, giving 25mb down and 8mb up (approx) but routes nothing since my firewall is in the DMZ and handles the real traffic.

You did ask for specs! :)

Davey

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Ian
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby Ian » April 17th, 2014, 10:20 am

Hi Davey, great post and welcome to the forums! :clap:

In terms of streaming your movies, what are you planning on using as clients? I've recently invested in some NUC boxes. I've installed OpenELEC on them and they work like a charm. At some point I'll add some extra pages to the website but they're really pretty much plug-n-play so I'll probably struggle to think of something to write :roll:

What are you thinking of using your VMs for? Just being nosey :think:

I don't think I've ever known of 15,000rpm drives in a home brew server. Do they generate much heat/noise?

Ian.

DaveyB
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby DaveyB » April 19th, 2014, 10:05 am

Hi Ian, and thanks !

The clients for streaming will be the two Sony Bravia TVs (front room and bedroom) and my desktop and laptop. Both of the computers are running Ubuntu, so VLC will work splendidly for them, and the Bravia's have their own native clients built in, so no real worries there!

I saw your comments on the reinstalling of servers just for small changes, so I decided that VM was the better way to go - build the base server and install only the VM host on it. From there, add VMs as servers along the following lines:
  • Base VM server for cloning, this one would just exist as a template, and only be run to install updates
  • Media and file server VM, cloned from the base VM, and would run 24x7
  • Development version of the media and file server, cloned from the primary, for testing new installations of software and scripts without breaking the primary VM, startup on demand
  • Another clone from the base VM, running a full LAMP package for web development of my online website, startup on demand
  • Yet another clone of the base VM, this time with Deluge running, allowing me to firewall this server's internet access as outlined on the Private Internet Access VPN thread without restricting the other VMs, startup on demand
With the majority of the VMs being startup on demand, and only one running 24x7, the machine should handle it easily. There could be times when there are up to 3 VMs running concurrently, which is where things could get a little tricky, although if I'm downloading torrents and working on the website, it's unlikely that I'll be streaming media at the same time - I'm a one person household, and there is a limit to my multi-tasking! ;)

The SCSI drives came from a friend that bought them for his system and then found out that SCSI <> SATA so he sold them to me cheap rather than return them! They are a little noisier than SATA drives, and they do run hot, so I built a housing for them such that they are mounted "on their sides" and I added a 120mm fan to the end just to cool them. The adaptec controller card I have can spin them down when not in use, the array comes back online very quickly when needed, and my plan is to raid 5 them giving me 900 gigs of high speed backup space, plus parity, for the SATA disks, meaning I don't need to raid those together. It would have been nice to be able to afford to go SCSI throughout, since the SCSI controllers offload a lot of the work from the CPU (which is why they are so attractive to commercial servers); The CPU simply tells the SCSI controller to move this file from here to there, and the SCSI controller makes it happen with no further processing by the CPU!

You may have visited data centers where they have racks of servers, all howling away. The majority of the noise comes from the fact that most of the servers are blades, only 1-4u high, and so have dozens of tiny fans moving the air to cool them. My setup, with a 120mm fan, is much quieter and moves more air - my firewall, which is running on an old blade server, makes a lot more noise than the SCSI array, since the fans in it are less than an inch in diameter! Data centers are built for efficiency of space, not noise levels, so they want to squeeze as many servers and drive arrays into a single rack as possible.

I've started collecting the parts for the DVD server too. So far I have 5 DVD drives (don't need R/W for this, so I class them all as read only). I have an old 6 bay tower that will work as the housing, with a 400w PSU rescued from my new desktop. Another old case has an Intel mom-board with a single core Pentium processor around 2.3ghz, and probably around 2 gigs of RAM, which should suffice. I'm thinking of running it on Ubuntu 32bit server, and setting it up for hibernate and wake-on-LAN since it doesn't need to be up all the time. An old 80Gb HDD for boot, and I added a PCI card IDE controller to handle the additional DVD drives. You would be amazed at the extra crap I have lying around here! I know I am, I just found a couple of ISA ethernet cards with BNC connectors that I didn't know I still had, along with cables and terminators! I'd set them up for laughs, but I don't think I have any mom-boards left with ISA slots and I believe the throughput on them was around 1.5mb/s!

Sorry, I can't type a short post it seems, and this is still the intro thread! I'll post the specs of each machine in a new thread somewhere more appropriate, since this is looking to turn into a real project!

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Ian
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby Ian » April 19th, 2014, 7:34 pm

Hi Davey,

Good idea about using a VM just for Deluge. I might just try that one myself :thumbup:

In terms of horsepower I think you'll be fine with your setup, I regularly run 4 HD streams simultaneously and the server does not even break into a sweat. BUT, any required transcoding is done at the client end so all the server is really doing is serving up the files, the CPU & memory usage is negligible. But I take your point about you being the only one in the house.

The only irritation I find with running VMs is you have to set aside a fixed amount of memory for each instance. It would be great if you could pool the memory and each VM grabbed what it needed as required rather than on startup. But presumably there's a very good technical reason why it doesn't work like that. :think:

I never knew that about data centres. I recently bought myself a 4u rack case which can hold 10 drives and it has a couple of 80mm fans which are real screamers. I've bought myself better fans but they're still far too noisy. I tried to get fancontrol working but my motherboard wouldn't have any of it. So, I either upgrade my motherboard or put up with the noise :thumbdown:

I had to laugh at your comment about having lots of old parts lying around. I've never thrown a whole computer away but always strip out the best parts "just in case" and then junk the rest. I could probably build a dozen computers from the parts I have. They'd consume oodles of power and run like dogs so I know I'll never actually use all the parts I've been collecting. I guess if I keep them long enough they'll eventually be worthy of a museum :lol:

No need to apologise about the long post at all. This forum has gone rather quiet of late. Probably because I can no longer answer the questions that are posted. When I first started it the problems were trivial to solve but now they're often far out of my league :oops:

Ian.

DaveyB
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby DaveyB » April 20th, 2014, 8:21 am

I work in a data center, and have worked in much larger ones in the past. They are so noisy, you almost need hearing protection! Most desktop computers have variable speed fans, and the thermostats to control their speed, which keeps the noise at an acceptable level. Servers are not designed to sit on a desk next to a person, so they don't worry about such things; their fans run at full speed all the time.

The center where I currently work has blade servers mounted in racks, each server is 2 units high, and has one fan on each of its 2 PSUs, 2 fans behind each of 3 pairs of vertically stacked drive cages, and a further 6 fans strung across the width of the case to help pull the air through the case. These fans are all the "mini" variety. Add to that the Network Attached Storage units, typically with 16 hot-swappable SCSI drives, and the fans to keep those cool, plus the managed fiber switches to connect all the boxes together, with even more cooling fans. Then each cabinet (rack) has large fans on top of it to pull the heat out. Just one cabinet can generate a lot of noise - we have 30+ cabinets in one room! There are also the air conditioning units - my center has 4 of them (summer temperatures outdoors here go well over 110f). Each AC unit stands about 8 feet tall, 6 feet deep and about 16 feet wide, and the turbines in those things are also very loud!

Lets just say it's not the place to go to have a quiet conversation!

I can sympathise on the answering questions bit - things can get a lot technical very quickly, and it's hard to keep up with every possible combination of hardware and software and know the possible outcomes of them. Unfortunately, when people think they've sucked the knowledge pool dry, they go elsewhere, and sometimes don't even look back!

THE VM's having fixed memory pools is an irritation, yes, but there is method in the madness: if the VM were treated as an application, and the memory allocation handled by the underlying server, then a VM that wasn't very active would find itself swapped out to the swap file which would effectively break the VM since it would have to wait for another VM to free off some active memory before it could be swapped back in. I hope that makes sense! ;)

Speaking of swap files, when I did the LFS build, I studied how the swap was handled, and took that knowledge with me to the Windows platform. When I do a windows build for a friend, I will typically create a new small partition, and put the windows swap file in there, removing it entirely from the C: drive. I assign the drive as the "S" drive (for swap) and lock that drive down to system account only access. The swap file is set to a fixed size - usually 2.5 times the size of the installed RAM, and the partition is double that size which allows for an increase in RAM in the future. This reduces fragmentation on the system drive, and eliminates fragmentation in the swap file, so the whole machine gets a speed boost. I also make another partition, usually double the size of the swap partition, assign it the drive letter "T" (for temp), and point all of the temp path variables to that space. A simple batch file in the startup then deletes the entire contents of the T drive each time the computer boots up, so its always clean, and once again the system disk fragmentation is reduced!

I just had a revelation ... putting it in a separate post though, stay tuned!!

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Ian
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby Ian » April 20th, 2014, 7:24 pm

Your VM explanation makes perfect sense. I just KNEW there was a reason why it worked that way :lol:

Your method of putting together windows machines splitting the main drive into separate partitions for swap and temp is a genius idea :clap: Seriously. WOW!! And given the number of Ubuntu installs I've done over the years where you create a separate partition for swap I feel totally ashamed that I've not thought of the idea of using that myself on my windows machines. Doh! :oops:

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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby GoingCrazy » April 23rd, 2014, 2:28 pm

Hi everyone:

Total newbie to building a server, but I knoew I wanted one, and just happend to come across the HTKH site by chance.

I'm cruising along so far and loving the empowerment I feel as I am able to complete each step.

I'm running a box I built from mostly old parts I had laying around.

AMD dual core CPU
3GB ram - corsair
Asus motherboard MRN-4 (i think) no onboard video, but that's not too much of a loss except for the initial setup, but I had an extra video card laying arou so that was sorted easily
coolermaster case (this was a new purchase for ~$20... not bad)
2 PCI-E expansion cards, one for USB 3.0 capabilities to go with the new case, and one for a SATA port mulitplier
500GB internal drive
BD-ROM
4 drives in a SansDisk external tower (hence the need for the Port Multiplier) (3@1TB, 1@2TB) (this is where most of my costs came in :crazy: )

Loving it so far, just really anxious now to get everything up and running and enjoying the dream!

thanks for all the posts and information for newbies like me to get things moving!
Eistein said doing the same things and expecting different results is insanity, so why is it I do the same things with technology and get different results . . . I must be insane!

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Ian
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby Ian » April 23rd, 2014, 6:50 pm

Hi there GoingCrazy and welcome to the forums :thumbup:

Glad to hear things seem to be going ok. Hopefully you'll have no issues at all but you know where we are if you do ;)

Ian.

GoingCrazy
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby GoingCrazy » April 24th, 2014, 1:48 am

Hi Ian:

Thanks for the response. I did hit a sticking spot and posted the question in the hardware discussion area (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1273). No responses just yet, but it has only been 12 hrs :) For some reason all my drives return a read-only error when I try to make the file system...

Anyway any guidance you, or anyone else, can provide will be greatly appreciated.

I'm still searching for an answer, and if I figure it out, I'll post the update.

Thanks for all your help!

James
Eistein said doing the same things and expecting different results is insanity, so why is it I do the same things with technology and get different results . . . I must be insane!

GoingCrazy
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Re: The "introduce yourself" thread

Postby GoingCrazy » April 24th, 2014, 2:28 am

Quick update, the answer was just to take the command line add sudo to the front and paste it into Putty "sudo mkfs -t ext3 -q /dev/Media1-vg/UserData"

Moving forward!

Thanks for all the help this far :)
Eistein said doing the same things and expecting different results is insanity, so why is it I do the same things with technology and get different results . . . I must be insane!


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