[svlug] Hardware for a new server

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Feb 6 11:23:25 PST 2013

Comments / suggestions welcomed.

I'm looking at belatedly replacing the 2001-era VA Linux Systems model
2230 2U-rackmount server that houses my Internet presence (shell for me
and a bunch of other people, Web, ftp[1], SMTP, Mailman mailing lists,
DNS, ntp, rsyncd, pxeboot/kickstart services, etc.).

Current prospect is a Compulab fit-PC3 palmtop w/internal SSD and a pair
of eSATA-connected 256GB 2.5" laptop-type hard drives in MD-driver RAID1
configuration, in external enclosures.  Primary advantage of the new
hardware, other than accomplishing a long overdue hardware refresh, is
great reduction in use of AC power, which I figure adds about
$20-30/month to my household PG&E bill.  And noise output.  And heat
output.  Heat is always bad, as its buildup stresses hardware, leading
to early component death.  Normally, you add fans that themselves
generate more heat, draw more power, and so on.  But why not use
low-power designs that don't need them to begin with?

The main general objective is minimum long-term hassle (from parts
failure, wonky operation, noise, etc.).  

                         Old       New
Est. total power draw    100W      15W
CPU                      PIII/650  AMD G-T56N/1.65GHz[2]
Physical RAM             1.5GB     8.0GB
Disk space               89GB      430GB

I'll be going from 3 count of ancient internal 3.5" SCSI drives to 1
internal SSD boot drive + a RAID1 pair of external 2.5" drives on eSATA,
and going from three noisy fans to _none_.  So:  tiny, fast, quiet,

Old: http://ebayimages.rswhost.com/301735/73414D.jpg
New: http://www.fit-pc.com/web/images/fit-PC3-standard-front.jpg
     (omits pair of external drives, obviously)

A bit of money up-front, but OTOH fully featured and enough server
firepower for another decade, and in fact CPU/RAM left over for VMs.

Tab so far is looking like this:

$412 fit-pc3 Pro Barebone
$170 Intel SSDSC2CT180A3K5 180GB 2.5" SATA3 SSD
$130 2x Western Digital WD2500BEKT 250GB 2.5" 7200 RPM SATA3 HD
$ 52 2x Vantec NST-260SU-BK HD enclosure
$ 20 2x 5V power adapter for enclosure
$ 55 2x Crucial SODIMM 4GB DDR3-1066 64-bit

The pair of 250GB hard drives cited are from Western Digital's 'Scorpio
Black' series of notebook hard drives.  Much as I'd be tempted to use,
say, their 320GB, 500GB, or 750GB drives from the same model series, I
notice that the 250GB model has a reputation for rock-solid reliability,
while the denser ones tend to drop like flies.  The 5-year warranty is
nice, but it's nicer not to need it.

I'd actually be fine with a RAID1 pair of 'WD Green' drive with variable
rotation speed up to 5400RPM (thus less heat, etc.), but the specific WD
unit shown has extremely high user ratings on Newegg for long-term
reliability.  And the WD Green series's 2-year warranty reflects that.

[1] http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Network_Other/ftp-justification.html
[2] AMD G-series ('Geode') approximates Intel Atom, and is x86_64 arch.

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