Tacgnol- The Server that Can't Decide Between Life & Death

2009-November-11th

One of the problems I have been having lately has been with tacgnol. From time to time, it makes the determination that it would love to just up and die. It happened extremely rarely at first, and now I can't seem to go very long at all without some sort of disaster happening. I don't know if it's related to the external disk I use with the machine some times, or if it's related purely to the internal disk or to the machine's hardware, but once every 20-80 or so days, it'll just be unable to do things, claiming bus and disk errors like crazy. It happened today, and fortunately I didn't have a whole lot of unsaved work open on it like I did the last time.

And so, yesterday, after spending several hours messing with various ways to suck all of tacgnol into a virtual machine on flatdell, I simply made the decision that it would be more worth my time and effort to just put tacgnol's disk back into tacgnol, and continue to run the thing for at least the next few days while I figure out what to do for a server.

Which means a few things....

  1. The server project is now back on the high priority list. If I could have a few machine purchased and running like, within the next seven days, that owuld be fantastic.
  2. I need to be extremely vigilant in backing up my homedir on tacgnol, and if you have a homedir on tacgnol, I honetly reccomend doing the same thing. I fail at doing it for you, sorry.
  3. I need to consider whether or not I want to try to migrate my existing installation of everything over, or if I just want to start fresh with a new Ubuntu 9.10 or maybe Debian 5 installation, depending (mainly) on what machine becomes the new server.

As food for thought, I was recently recently offered a ThinkPad T40 or T41 that should run debian pretty well, and might even be a suitable candidate for a machine to literally clone tacgnol's install of Debian onto. The machine in question is far more powerful than tacgnol and should hypothetically be good to go for several years as the server, especially if I were to grab and install a brand new 160/250/320 or so GB disk into it.

I like the idea of continuing the tacgnol tradition with a newer ThinkPad because they really are reliable machines capable of running all day long with their lids closed, and they're fairly low-power machines in terms of electricity usage, but I trust them to be fairly powerful in terms of actual capability. The T40/T41 even has USB 2 and a wifi chip built in, in case I wanted to start working on making "tacgnol2" (as it might end up being) my router.

Another idea is that I just take the GX270 or flatdell and make that the server again. Either machine is incredibly overkill and uses a whole lot of electricity compared to tacgnol, but both are running anyway right now. The only real problem I have with it is I like having them available as a) a stable media platform (hotbox, currently) and b) a desktop computer where I can run SETI and various other things (like OS X).

Ultimately what I think I may do is just admit that flatdell is the machine I have that's best suited for server duties, and put Debian 5 or the latest Ubuntu on it. I could still run vmware workstation or server on it to use for projects and other virtualization things, plus it gives me another reason to just get a Mac at some point in the coming year.

Whether or not I will continue running SETI on flatdell once it's a linux machine, I'm not sure, but it's not like the hardware can't handle it, and based on what I've seen of other Ubuntu machines running SETI and ClimatePrediction is that on linux, BOINC is fairly friendly to other processes, so there shouldn't be too much to worry about in terms of whether or not I'll be able to trust that the machine will be fast enough to do my server tasks while it's running BOINC.