New Server


Sorry blogging has been so sporadic lately, folks. It's just that we've been very busy at the office and any extra time I have has been thrown into this project.

You remember my post about getting a new PC, right? Well, junking my old PIII just added to a rapidly-expanding collection of old PC parts that have been taking up room in my apartment. Well, no longer...

Cruising eBay, I found a deep 4U rack case for $25 that came with a power supply, 48x CD-ROM, floppy drive and pretty much everything else I would need to put together a pretty cool server. So I bought the thing and it came to the office on Monday.

Last night, my mission was to get everything out of the old Gateway and into the new rack box. This sounds easy, but there were some challenges along the way. The old Gateway came in one of those cases where cards and drives aren't held in place by good, old-fashioned screws, but by green plastic clips. So there was a good deal of poking around the apartment looking for spare screws. Thankfully, I found enough to keep cards mounted to card slots and drives snug in their cages.

Another challenge was figuring out which wires to solder to new connectors so that LEDs light up and power and reset switches are connected to the motherboard. That was about a 10-minute brain teaser.

Then there was the wonderful task of finding jumper settings for an old 16X DVD-ROM drive that had no labels or model numbers on it anywhere. (In the end, I just guessed that moving the jumper one space to the left would change the drive from master to slave on the IDE channel. Turns out I was right.)

In just under 3 hours, I got it all taken care of. It boots. All the lights light up. All the fans are turning. Speaking of turning fans, the new case came with three of them! With the improved airflow in the box, the CPU cooler I mounted to the top of the processor's heatsink and the blower I'm about to go snag today from CompUSA, I'm thinking maybe I should overclock the hell out of the PIII.

In any case, my next step is to install a SCSI card out of an old PII 400 that blew up about a year ago. I have a nice 18GB 10,000 RPM Seagate SCSI hard drive that I want to throw in. (After all, it would be a shame to leave it just laying around.)

When I finish this project server up tonight (hopefully), I'm mounting it into the desk you see it sitting on in the picture. The desk has 60 rack spaces in it. (Here's a picture of the desk from the manufacturer.) I've got all my guitar effects processors, MIDI gear and power amps mounted on one side of it. I'll put this server and another rackmount server I already own on the other side. No silly towers cluttering up the place.

The old rackmount server used to run weekly backups of my other machines across the network with Norton Ghost. The new server will pick up those duties and I'll wipe the old one clean, install Linux, Apache and MySQL and use it as a test environment. (I'm teaching myself PHP and I'm dying to try a couple new things out.)

I'll post more on this project after tonight, but I've geeked out enough for now.