I managed to get 24 Juniper Olive routers running on my workstation without any issues. But because I do allot of other things on my workstation as well, I have to reboot it every once in a while.
It’s a pretty time-consuming job to power off and power on the Olives every time I reboot and suspending them in VMware doesn’t always work that well. That’s why I decided to give my Olives a more stable environment by putting them on a dedicated server which won’t be rebooted that often.
After doing allot of research on the web I came to the conclusion that it’s time to replace my current server. My current server is based on a Via C7 1.8GHz CPU, 1GB of memory and 4x 750GB hard disks in RAID-5. It’s not a powerful machine, but it was never meant to be. In Fact, not powerful was exactly the goal of this server because I didn’t want to have an always-on energy monster. Since file-serving was its only purpose, it was a perfect machine for the job.
With 24 Juniper Olives permanently running at the same time, I needed a new server with more CPU horsepower and as much memory as possible. Because my current server is build into a Chenbro ES34069 Mini-ITX Chassis I couldn’t just replace the system board and CPU, because Dual & Quad core CPU’s generate quite some heat and they consume more power than the PSU for this particular case can handle.
That’s why I decided to order a brand new HP ML110 G5 server. The base-model comes with a Intel Xeon 3065 dual-core CPU@ 2.33GHz, 1GB of memory and a 250GB Hard Disk. The parts are installed in a nice small minitower with enough room for expansion. For its price of 350,- Euros I found this to be a very nice deal, especially when you compare the price when you build a machine like that yourself by buying similar individual parts. I also ordered an additional 8GB (4x 2GB) PC6400 memory, 4x 1TB drives & a PCI-e RAID-controller for it. Allot of server for a good price, and the power consumption will remain relatively low.
So yesterday I received the server and the different parts. I couldn’t wait to put it together and install it :-)Putting it together was relatively easy because I find that HP is doing a great job nowadays building their systems.
On the other hand – Installing the software on it was a different story. My idea was to install Windows 2008 server on it so I could play around with Hyper-V and to get myself familiar with a Windows 2008 Core installation. I didn’t expect Windows 2008 to recognize my RAID controller by itself, so I was smart enough to burn a CD with the controller-drivers before the installation. As expected, Windows didn’t recognize the controller and I got the option to supply the installation with the third-party driver CD. It all looked to be going well, but all of a sudden the installation would reboot the server and trying to do exactly the same thing again, resulted in the same reboot every time
So I decided not to boot from my RAID-controller in the end and make use of the onboard controller in combination with the 250GB Drive that came with the system. I started the installation again, the controller and hard drive were found. I could partition the hard drive and format it, but as soon as I pressed the ”next” button the installation started to complain that it didn’t have a ‘’suitable” drive for the installation! Gutted!
I thought to be smart again by going into the BIOS of the server to change controller operating mode into RAID, and by configuring the drive as a JBOD. This way the installation would recognize another controller and different hard drive, which might do the job. As soon as I saved the BIOS configuration and rebooted, the server started to complain about a resource conflict with the other RAID-controller with the 1TB drives hooked up to it. Changing the controller into different slots of the system board didn’t work and the BIOS didn’t give me any option to manually manipulate the system resources. So in the end I was forced to switch the onboard controller operating mode back to a standard SATA controller. I accepted that my dream of running Windows 2008 server in combination with Hyper-V was coming to an end (at least for now – I’ll wait for R2 to come out
As a good alternative I now installed Windows 2003 server x64 on the system. It’s got all the functionality I need, and instead I will start playing around with VMware server v2.
After the installation was complete and I did all the updates, I started to my first copy-run to get the data off the old server. It was late, so I went to bed straight after I initialized the copy. After being in bed for about an hour or so, me and my girlfriend were woken up by this terrible annoying beeping sound coming out of my studyroom. Sleepy as I was, I logged onto the server and found out that one of the 1TB drives had gone offline in an error-state! I switched the server off and went back to bed.
The next day I tried to figure out what happened with the hard drive. Before I started the copy-job I tested the hard drive independently of each other to make sure they were all fine. They passed the tests without any issues… After I while I remembered that during one of the Microsoft update-runs, I was offered an updated driver for the RAID-controller and I accepted the download and installation of it. I figured that the updated driver could be the cause of the issue I’m seeing, so I went online to the Highpoint support-website and downloaded their latest driver for the controller. After I replaced the driver I tested each drive individually again to be a 100% sure that they are functioning properly. After they all passed the test again, I re-created the RAID-5 array and started to copy files onto it again. This time the drives and the controller behaved themselves and it seems that everything is running stable now. But to be sure I will keep my old server up and running and I’ll keep the data between the servers in sink – for a while, just to be sure.
The Olives are running now as well. The server’s CPU cores are running at 5% load on average and 5.2GB of memory is used steadily. Not bad if I say so myself!
Below are some pictures of the new server for the people who are interested 😉
front without front
drives locked away
My xw4400 workstation and his new little brother