A Tale of Heat and Peace

I am a geek. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I am a very big geek.

I run servers for a living, but mainly I don’t get to play with them. I get to configure them and fix them when they break, but generally… I just get them to work and make sure they keep working, I never get to play.

That is where my home server closet comes in. My home server closet is my playground. I get to play with things, test out new software, basically break things and have fun in the process. My server closet at home helps me do that.

It really is a closet, a small walk-in closet 4 foot by 3 foot, with a bakers rack full of computer equipment, monitors, keyboards, cables, and the like. There are servers in there too. Three of them actually.

Server 1 is my media server (pragmatic). This server handles streaming duties, video from an onboard tv tuner (mythtv) as well as some streaming mp3s (icecast).

Server 2 is my development server and general all around do boy (tragic). This server handles samba (windows based file sharing), tinydns (dns for the internal network), dnscache (to handle dns requests to the clients in the local network), apache2, PHP4, PHP5, SVN, etc…

Server 3 is my phone system server (magic). This server handles only one thing, my phone lines. It serves as a media gateway allowing me to connect POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) lines to VoIP services like Voneage (which I don’t use, but there are others out there like them, just not as popular). The software that handles this is called Asterisk, and by all accounts it is a pretty amazing piece of open source software made by a company called Digium. The software itself is free, but Digium makes their money off the hardware, and considering how good the software is… I am inclined to throw money their way as often as I can.


Server 3… “Magic” has been the bane of my existence since I put it into service about a year and half ago. It isn’t so much that the hardware is bad, but rather the hardware in relation to the environment it was in. Magic has always had an IBM Ultrastar 9GB drive since the day I built it. 10K RPM of SCSI lovin. It is fast… really fast… and pretty reliable… only one or two problems. It is HOT and LOUD. Really loud.

So enters the paradox that is the server closet. The server is loud, as such, I don’t want the noise in my home office, so I close the door. Enter the other problem, heat. As I close the door to the closet, temperatures in the server closet climb to insane levels. So then I have to open the door to let the heat out. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

So finally today… the heat was unbearable… and was starting to effect the PBX cards in the machine. So I decided to see why. Turns out the PSU fan died, and the computer was just roasting inside. So I pulled it out to replace the PSU and decided that I wanted to remove the noisy SCSI drive. So I start looking around for my Ghost disks… Long story short… no matter what I tried Ghost refused to see the SCSI drive.

Enter my savior: I have had a copy of Ultimate Boot CD for a couple of years now. So after blowing a couple of hours with Ghost. I figured what the heck. I threw it in, did a little g4l (Ghost 4 Linux) diskcopy sc0 wd0 mojo and it did its thing. I rebooted fully expecting it not to work… but much to my surprise, it worked flawlessly. Just a couple of adjustments to the grub loader to allow it to boot from the IDE drive instead of the SCSI drive and I was in business.

So now… I am basking in the quiet and reduced heat levels in my server closet. Life is good, and geek points restored.

Comments (1)

  1. 4:59 pm, November 18, 2005Bosstone100 

    Nice story dude. The fact is that only aluminium can save you.

    Too bad I don’t have a valid email address for you.

    Long live Dale Murphy, the Marlin’s Executive Suite and a Chemistry class that haunts me ’til my dying day.

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