Replacement for Tacgnol?

2009-October-19th

One of the things that I suppose I need to be worrying about a litle bit more than I have been, as of late, is what I'm going to do about the situation with tacgnol. Unfortunately, it seems as though my current server is just about on its last legs as far as being a server goes. From time to time it still displays funky disk issues that, every 50-80 days, bring the entire system down overnight, causing it to need a full reboot.

My question, one that I suppose would be answered by trying it out, is whether the problems are with tacgnol itself, or with intermittent connections to such peripherals as the USB disk I had been using with it. What I may go ahead and do is copy the data off of the USB disk and just disconnect that from the system, as it's really not needed, and because it's external, is a source of weakness in the overall system.

As an actual replacement for tacgnol there is flatdell as well as The OptiPlex GX270 along with Yet Another Laptop. Flatdell is currently in use as Glenn and I's media computer, the only real function of which, aside from Hulu, is that some of my files are warehoused on it, and it runs SETI, which is also the purpose of the OptiPlex GX270.

I suspect either machine (that is, flatdell and the optiplex) would be fine in the role of server, and I even bet that the optiplex would do well in the role of media computer, however I haven't yet tried hulu on it, with or without SETI running.

I think that in any case, the secondary/tertiary role that flatdell has been playing, which is Windows remote access for other people, will fall off the face of the planet, just because nobody else uses it, and it causes pretty big performance issues for flatdell's primary/secondary roles of Hulu and SETI.

What I want to do if I can is make sure that the server, which ever desktop may become it, does get the dual 750gb sata disks for home directories, as well as a separate 200-300gb boot disk, which would hold software, a few common directories, as well as the main web directories.

As computational power goes, tacgnol really and truly is powerful enough for everything I do, I've never seen it use more than 50% of its physical memory or processor cycles when I'm using it. I'm sure it could have a faster disk or a larger disk, but as web and shell server for my own use, it does great. Tacgnol also has the advantage of using almost no electricity.

One thing I may do is wait until I can afford a newer system that'll continue to use less power, and may be more powerful, if not more powerful than flatdell or the optiplex. Either of these options isn't really that bad, especially as both of the systems in question could easily take advantage of my dual 750gb SATA hard disks, and either could run a virtualization environment if I wanted, or just linux or windows server, or even OpenSolaris if I was crazy. Either machine could even run linux or windows as well as act as the tv computer, I bet.

Another potential solution I'd thought of is a newer Atom or otherwise small form factor computer, in the hopes of saving some electricity and getting a really powerful machine. Unfortunately, what I discovered while perusing the Internet for potential machines, is that the machines in this category are incredibly expensive, not very expandable at all, and in most cases, offer very little in terms of performance benefits over just using flatdell. In some cases, I'm not even 100% sure that the machines use less electricity than Flatdell would.

The specific machines I found were the Dell Studio Hybrid, which for the cost really isn't a good deal any more, compared with the Apple Mac Mini, which for the cost is a good deal in terms of Macs, but not in terms of something that'll run Windows or Linux. Lenovo has the Q700, and Dell also has the huge-but-small USFF OptiPlex 760. Unfortunately, the cheapest of all of these is the biggest, most likely to use just as much power as flatdell, and least likely to have slots for expansion in the way of saving power by functioning as more than one device, as well as would need to be configured up in order to match what flatdell already has.

I also have and will continue to look at atom boards and systems, which will actually use less power, take less space and provide the necessary amount of computing horsepower pretty easily. The Acer AspireRevo is one such system, which at $199 isn't too bad of a deal. It's got a 1.6GHz Atom, a gig of ram and a 160gb hard disk, fairly modest, but also upgradeable in the memory/disk department, and it also has an advantage in that it could potentially have wireless installed and be used as a router. The upcoming Windows 7 version ships with double the ram, the dual-core Atom processor and a wireless card, and would be a good candidate for router use.

It'll be awhile before I have the money to do anything, and at least a few more weekends before I have the time to do anything. Optimally, tacgnol would hang on until at least this coming December, and I'd have about a week to hang out here without classes and migrate all of my data and users and get everything running properly on the new system before shutting tacgnol down and converting that back to a regular old mobile computer.

I may even make the decision to just try continuing the use of tacgnol, but without the 320gb disk hooked up. The external disk in particular seems to be one of the biggest sources of trouble for tacgnol. If I can keep tacgnol running for longer without the external disk, I think I'll pretty gladly do so, and I can easily transfer the data from that disk to another machine like my ThinkPad T400 or one of the dells, then reformat that disk to just use in Windows.

So... here's to the longevity of tacgnol, because I am totally too indecisive to do anything else about it.