another new server
Posted by ark, ,
The old new server didn't work out at all. It had a weird glitch that when the memory usage went up to 100% and it started to want to try and use the swap the machine would lock up. Sometimes I could preempt this with rebooting, but other times it was stuck until I got home to hard power cycle it. Luckily I got it from someone at work and after we had tried different memory modules he took it back. It was lucky really since I'd been looking around and really wanted something a little better and was more into the idea of actually having a Home Theater PC (HTPC) in the rack. Especially since my daughter is starting to want to watch movies with us and I don't want to mess around with opening DVD's and stuff.

I did a little research and with some help from the egg heads at work came up with this:
Pretty sweet for under $200! When it arrived I started pulling apart my old 4u case to put this new stuff in and while I was halfway through, I thought, you know... I really should just smoke test this new stuff before installing it. I dismantled more stuff while that thought was still nagging in my head and finally stopped and set it up on the bench. Sure enough it didn't work! I tried lots of things and couldn't get it to work. Filed a support ticket with the board manufacturer and put my old server back together. The next day I bought a new motherboard and power supply from Frys to test some theories. When I got them home they too didn't work and I finally hit jackpot when I tried each of the memory modules separately. One was bad! I ordered a whole new set and will mail one set back once I find two that work and then took the other stuff back to Frys.

Now my server was working!

This motherboard had so many awesome ports I was delighted, especially with the optical audio out, external SATA and the hdmi connector. I was sad it didn't have svideo and didn't have a com port either (I have an old X10 remote that has a serial port and also a weather station I plan to hook up at some point). However graphics cards with svideo are available for $20 (ATI X1050) and you can get usb to serial port adapters for under $10 so that's not a big deal. Once I read the manual I found out there were lots of headers for more ports so I got another 4 USB, 1 firewire and more audio ports for a $15 floppy disk sized header and ordered the official com port header (I thought about making my own, but it was just too much trouble).

Another thing that pleased me was that I could adjust the bios settings over the DVI port, which means I can mess with my system in the den, rather than dragging it into the bedroom where the only VGA display in the house is. This allowed me to find the second easter egg. Even though every bios ever made has allowed you to set what happens when the power comes back on, my old motherboard didn't. I was delighted I could make my server come back on automatically after a power cut with the new board. Yipee. Of course once I put the X1050 graphics card in there I couldn't access the bios at all on either DVI port, but at least once the system booted I could see the Linux console on the X1050 DVI port. Good signs I'll be able to get svideo working at some point.

So now I'm setting up the new machine and I might make one or two posts about that as time goes on. I will leave you with this quick (and dirty) performance number. The old server reported just under 1,800 BogoMips and the new system with 2 core's clocks in at 10,800 (that's 5,400 per core). Now to find something to do with all that power.