January 12, 2004

Moved the mail/web server; good rackmount systems?

Since the PowerBook has passed its two-month test I felt decent about moving my old workstation to be the mail/web server. It’s a P3/1000 (vs P3/600) and has U2W SCSI as well (vs. UDMA-100). So everything should be faster – not that I’m really taxing the machine right now or anything.

The move process was fairly simple:

  • Wipe out the partitions on the old machine and create new ones, first backing up /etc and /boot just in case. (I backed up all my other work when I moved to the PowerBook.)
  • Take down the server. Keeping the website up with a maintenance message was trivial -- I told the router to use my PowerBook for all HTTP requests and setup there a simple 'under maintenance' page for people to see no matter what URL they requested. (I should have got a router like this ages ago...)
  • Physically mount the server's drive into to my workstation
  • Boot using a Gentoo Live CD, mount all the necessary filesystems (old and new) and copy all the data over from the old IDE drive to the SCSI drives.
  • chroot to the new root (on SCSI), configure and recompile a new kernel (to include SCSI, different ethernet driver, sound, Matrox-specific stuff)
  • Ensure that GRUB is installed on the boot loader and that the /boot partition is marked as bootable (paranoia since it was already there from the workstation)
  • Edit /etc/fstab to point to the new partitions
  • Reboot. Test a bit to make sure everything is up. Then shut it down and hook it up in its normal location and bring it back up.
  • Modify the router to point to the server for HTTP requests. It's all good...
  • </ul>

    My long-term plans for my personal mail/web services, plus OpenInteract services, are to get a decent rackmount server and take advantage of some bandwidth generosity. I've been out of the hardware business for a while (thank goodness) so I'm kind of clueless as to where people get prebuilt rackmount servers.

    My needs are pretty simple -- 1U, single or dual P3/Athlon, decent amount of memory (512MB - 1GB), space for two or three drives. SCSI would be nice but that bumps up the price by $500 or so. Anyone have a good experience with a vendor? (I've been looking at Bold Data and their prices seem pretty good and their rep, while a little dated, is also good.)

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