Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Server Meltdown Part Four - Where The NIC Hates You

It appears from reading various threads over the net that the Linux sky2 driver in conjunction with the Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit ethernet controller results in a steamy pile of poo.

I can confirm that this is indeed the case.

Again following up from my previous posts, the next step in home linux server resurrection was to attempt to install Ubuntu 7.10 x64 edition on my shiny new machine. This didn't get very far. A boot from CD ended up in a wedged machine no matter how I tried to run the install.

Hmmm, I think I'll go back to the trusty Debian distribution. I downloaded the latest stable (Etchy) net install disk. Boot. Joy! It all runs. Except the net card. Lots of kernel errors regarding the ethernet driver followed by a fatal crash.


Maybe I'll try Lenny, the “in test” release.

Same thing.

Tomorrow I think I'll be buying a vanilla net card for this puppy. Something made by Intel. For now I think I'll just install Etchy on the machine with the ethernet disabled and let the machine burn in.

Sigh - three days into this and it seems like the box isn't going to be up and running before my next trip. I thought this was supposed to be easy?

More as it happens…

Server Meltdown Part Two

Following on from yesterday's post about my home server's meltdown, let's just say that the day didn't exactly end well. At around 11pm, the Debian install onto the second PowerMac hung when setting up some component. It was time to give up for the night.

This afternoon I decided that I'd had enough of trying to build a central service from recycled components and gave Hard Drives NorthWest a call. I've had a number of good experiences with these folks in the past, so I thought I'd just customize one of their standard systems. I picked a Core 2 Duo based machine with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB drive. Not bad for just over $500.

Anyhow, on with the install.

9.22pm - Everything unboxed and plugged in. Ubuntu install disk at the ready. Boot!

10.31pm - The machine won't even post. Just a single flashing cursor on the screen. I tried reseating the RAM, draining the CMOS. All to no avail. I can't even get it into the BIOS. Back we go to Hard Drives Northwest in the morning.

Sigh. This shouldn't be this hard. It never has been before and I've built plenty of machines. Maybe it's just that now I've turned 40, technology hates me.

To be continued. Again.

Server Meltdown - A Tale Of An Upgrade

Today I came home to find that the linux box that provides all services to the machines around the house was wedged. I powercycled it, but it wouldn't come up - the drive had suffered some kind of fatal failure.


Now, this machine is pretty central to operations here at Casa Del Lacey. It provides NTP, DHCP and DNS services as well as acting as the Windows Primary Domain Controller via Samba. Handily everything else can limp along without it, but it's not pleasant.

Good job everything backs up nightly to the Infrant NAS.

Anyhow, for a while I've been thinking of replacing the hardware that the server runs on. It's a PowerMac G5 running Debian linux, but the fact that it's a PowerPC machine rather than an x86 machine has increasingly become a pain.

Handily I have a Dell PowerEdge SC1420 (64bit Xeon) sitting around that's been switched off and gathering dust for almost two years.

Don't ask.

So, with the PowerMac's hardware meltdown and the fact that I've got a reasonably good x86 box sitting around, it must be time for an upgrade. I have an Ubuntu 7.10 x64 desktop install disk in my hand, the kids are in bed and it's time to start!

9:00 pm - Disk in drive, power up!

9:42 pm - The damn thing won't power up. Das blikenlights claim a power supply failure. Poo. Not to fear! I have yet another spare machine. Last time I tried it there were “some issues”. Yup. Issues are still there. Poo2.

9.43 pm - Grab a cold beer.

9.45 pm - What the hell. I have a spare PowerMac G5! Let's go with that. It powers up! Now I need a Debian PowerPC disk…

10.18pm - ISO downloaded and burnt.

To be continued…

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.