New Home Server

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in the process of setting up a new home server. The previous one was an old Beige G3 (266MHz) running Mac OS X 10.2 that was starting to show it’s age. The new system is a much more capable B&W G3 (400MHz) running Mac OS X 10.4. Despite only a slight increase in clock speed, the B&W G3 has much more modern hardware (USB, Firewire) not to mention more room for more storage. The opportunities are endless.

Decided to go with a multi-drive setup considering the extra bays. The system had a still usable 40GB Seagate Barracuda IV drive which would make a perfect system disk for OS/Software. Installed via a ACard ATA/66 controller it’s no speed daemon, but for the purpose it’s fine. For the data drive I decided to get a SIIG SATA card and a pair of Seagate SATA drives I found a good deal on at BestBuy. The drives were Seagate ST303204N1A1AS, which corresponds to 320GB. Inside the boxes as expected were (the newer and better) ST3320620AS, which is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 with firmware 3.AAE (not the AAK people have had in the past). Perfect.

Next I wanted to replicate data across the drives on a cron. Initially I was thinking rsync, since as of 10.4, it’s resource-fork aware. It turns out that’s not really true. I ended up going back to SuperDuper to copy between the drives. It only copies changed files, and once a week will delete removed files (so if you accidentally delete something, there’s still a chance to recover, unless you do it at the wrong time). Not a bad solution IMHO. Still would prefer rsync more. Initial backup took less than 1/2 hour. Just a few minutes should be enough to keep the disks in sync. I briefly considered setting up RAID, but decided against it since RAID is not backup. It doesn’t protect against things like corruption.

Apple needs to kill off resource forks ASAP. They should have done so when moving to Mac OS X several years ago.

Next up, I tried putting a copy of TechTools Pro I no longer use on my Mac Mini since upgrading to Leopard on the system, but that resulted in some drive problems that I couldn’t resolve without uninstalling. They seem to know about the problem, but haven’t fixed it. You see the following error repeatedly in the system.log file until you reboot:

kernel[0]: IOATAController device blocking bus.


Also updated mrtg, and this time compiled GD, libpng, libjpeg, etc. all by hand, rather than use fink. Last time I went with fink, which saved me a few keystrokes, but when fink no longer updated packages for 10.2, left me high and dry. This time I think I’ll avoid it when possible. I need to try getting RRDtool setup at some point, since it’s so much better.

I use a few php scripts for easy admin of the box, and decided PHP 4 wasn’t adequate since it’s pretty much discontinued. So I upgraded to php 5.2, and all seems good so far. I think Apache 1.3.33 will serve me just fine for the moment, so not upgrading that.

I might give setting up BIND a try, since local DNS would be pretty handy for easily accessing the server without modifying the host file on computers.

I also disabled things like spotlight, which have absolutely no purpose on this box.

On another note, glib for some reason won’t compile for me. No clue what’s going on. Overall it’s looking pretty good. Should be about ready for real use. Just want to make sure the backups work as expected.

Hard Drive Fun

I got my new 100 GB Seagate 5200RPM drive Wednesday. Spent from about 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM trying to get it to work. IBM’s (normally) wonderful Product Recovery system left me with a 9 GB partition for Windows, immediately after the service partition, and a ton of wasted disk. Multiple attempts failed to work. Thanks in part to SystemRescueCd I got it working now (spent most of today working on it, and got it working 2:00 AM Friday morning).

IBM is sending me some new disks, which hopefully are a newer version and work better.

Needless to say I’m a bit ticked off, but relieved that it’s finally working. Recovery CD’s were a massive headache. I wish they would just give a Windows OEM CD, and a 2nd CD with their modifications and installer. Would make everyone’s life easier.

I’ll be spending most of Friday, and perhaps part of Saturday reinstalling everything (and taking a break to workout for the first time in 2 weeks). So I’ll be pretty quiet.

Off to bed now.

Hard Drive Saga Continues

I ordered back on 7/5/2005. I’m still waiting. While CDW still has the balls to say 3-6 days on the product page. Eventually I guess I’ll give up, even though I really don’t want to get a slower drive. My hope is to be able to purchase a Seagate Momentus 7200.1 80GB. I may end up settling with a Seagate Momentus 5400.2 80GB if it doesn’t start moving soon. This is approaching a month now. I emailed Seagate to see if they were even shipping yet, and this is what I was told:

The ST910021A and ST980825A , 7200 RPM laptop drives have been released, but to the OEM manufacturers. We do not have an exact date for release to the open market but the date they were announced precedes their actual availability by approximately 160 days. The drives are pre-sold to manufacturers for at least that much time. We anticipate a late August release.

The development stages are supported with testing by both Seagate and major OEM accounts working mutually to finalize the design and development of the products. The OEM partners have Purchase Orders for minimum quantities of $2.5 million per quarter. These orders are filled completely prior to drives being offered to the open market.

> 4) “Is there any updated availability? “
They become available when the last OEM delivery is completed, that is a date that is a moving target as the OEM accounts often add on to the ordered volumes if demand is high.

Thank you for your inquiry. We appreciate your consideration of Seagate products for your storage solutions.

CDW said they received a small shipment in June, so it’s possible they purchased OEM drives (which isn’t that uncommon). Though the date keeps slipping.

So what’s a geek to do? Anyone know a store with these awesome drives in stock?

Bargain Shopping

It feels really good when you get a good price on something. I found out this afternoon that Circuit City had a 300GB Seagate drive for $99 after rebates. Yea rebates are a pain, but for that much of a discount, it’s so worth it. At $99 that’s $0.33 per GB. So I ordered the AMS Venus enclosure I planned to get the other day. I think that’s a pretty fair deal.

Still waiting on my massively overpriced (but much needed) laptop hard drive, still on backorder. Hopefully it will ship soon as expected. I’m not holding my breath.

The ultimate backup solution

Ok, thanks to my whole laptop situation, I’ve decided I need a real backup solution. So here’s what I’m contemplating:

I’m wondering if I can effectively partition it? Save 80GB for laptop backup, 80GB for Mac Mini Backup, and 40GB for Linux Backup (those are drive sizes, not file sizes, yes I know 250GB isn’t really 250GB. That way I can back everything up rather well, and still have a little space left over. A firewire drive is faster than the internal mac mini drive, so I can use it as a scratch disk when compiling Firefox on the Mac for a performance boost. Carbon Copy Cloner (free), SuperDuper ($19) are good options on the mac side for backup.

And that backup system will cover 2 computers. I’m thinking when I finally get my new hard drive, that’s going to be my backup solution.