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scrottie (4167)

scrottie
  scott@slowass.net
http://slowass.net/

My email address is scott@slowass.net. Spam me harder! *moan*

Journal of scrottie (4167)

Thursday October 25, 2007
05:25 AM

Thinking outloud about consolidating servers and data

[ #34751 ]

Sorry, this is becoming a frequent topic post by me.

I need to get off the home DSL line I'm on. That's part of another story.

I hate x86 hardware. It's nothing but fan failures, thermal failures, and blown caps. But for lack of options, I have to soften up on some hatreds. Let's just say that slowass.net has been through a dozen machines. All of the RISC hardware still runs and none of the various x86 machines, except the original 486, does.

Colo in town starts at $40/month. That's a hell of a deal.

My old RISC hardware is old and slow and takes SCSI drives, which are expensive. My largest drive is a 70 gigger, and it's a half-height drive (all of the drives you see today are third height or quarter height or God knows what, but this drive is a tank). I only have one, and it's in production. I'd rather have two.

Having only the one that's in production, I don't want to move the 32 bit OpenBSD install off, put 64 bit OpenBSD on it and put in the UltraSparc. Too much down time. On the other hand, if I got a root drive set up on a smaller drive and just shoved it in as the /home partition, it could be quick and painless. Hmm.

NetBSD completely hosed the 32 bit Sparc platform. Server processes reliably and quickly wedge in an interruptible kernel state, requiring a reboot to free up the port they're listening on. Likewise, OpenBSD on 32 bit Sparc gets very little attention and as such has serious stability problems. So a move to Ultra-Sparc (64 bit) might improve stability. Or it might not.

I also found some SCSI-IDE adapters (active logic) but since I'd be putting the concoction in the CD-ROM drive bay, I could only fit one. The SCA drive bays only fit exactly one SCA drive.

Regardless, after a lot of time and effort, I don't have a stable machine to colocate.

I have users who are already weary of moves. I'd like to keep running OpenBSD to minimize impact to them.

I have a desktop system with a larg-ish harddrive in it, a 320gigger. I'd like to go to just having the laptop and a server and lose the desktop, and combine storage. Most of the stuff on it I'd rather have online anyway -- mp3s to share with friends, video, etc.

There are these virtual server things now, based on Xen. OpenBSD doesn't yet support Xen. Work has been done, but I don't know how stable it is yet. They tend to be conservative.

Virtual servers are more affordable than colocating real servers if you don't care about storage. If you care about storage, it suddenly becomes prohibitive.

Possible solutions:

Move everyone to Slackware Linux on a shared host and just have a lot of content not be online.

Buy some cheap x86 hardware and colocate it, with some cheap, large IDE/SATA drives.

Cross my fingers and hope OpenBSD/sparc64 is a hell of a lot more stable than OpenBSD/sparc and colocate the Ultra 1 with the one big SCSI drive in it, and also hope that the drive doesn't melt down.

Give up on having users and move onto a shared host deal.

I'm singularly ineffectual at thinking, as past performance so painfully illustrates, and am badly in need of thoughts from external sources. Thoughts?

-scott

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  • Do the "free shells" thing, but offer more storage and CGI access... could do that if I had planted a machine in colo. Could do it now, too, I guess, if I upgraded drives...

    -scott
  • I certainly have :)

    I have one dreamhost account with every service I can make work in it, and a couple of bits and pieces I mooch off other people (svn.ali.as) or get from a free source (looking at migrating to GMail as a mail server now they have IMAP).
    • I too use dreamhost. The quality sucks but it's cheap and they offer TONS of disk space. I say it sucks because:
      1. They've had two significant break-ins that I'm aware of in the 9 months that I've been a customer and they only informed us of one of them. I discovered the other when I found one of my websites defaced.
      2. The performance is terrible. I use my account for Catalyst FastCGI development (NOT production) and a restart of my app takes about 30 seconds (compared to about 5 seconds on my Mac)

      So, I mainl

      • I wouldn't say sucks... disk and bandwidth they rock, the arbitrary complexity is good ( I have about 10-15 sites there, all within the same plan ), and the installers and svn hosting and ssh access and most of the other stuff I care about is good.

        It's just the CPU is NOT plentiful.

  • I have no answers, but I've been kicking around thoughts on hosting too. Have you considered Amazon's S3 + compute service? It looks to be reasonably cost effective and reliable, but I have no experience using it. The ISP business has changed a lot in the last 15 years. It used to be that I wouldn't hesitate to buy a couple of servers, deploy them in a data center, and manage everything myself. Now, it seems to make more sense to be a virtual ISP, where you buy services from people who know better about spe
  • I use QuadraHosting.com.au, the Australian branch of a US company, QuadraHosting.com.
    They've only had a few tiny problems over the years.
    I only use it for savage.net.au though, nothing special.
    And they're very cheap.