Running an eServer at home

16 August 2005 » System administration

I’ve been hosting Web sites, a mail server, and a CVS repository on my DSL line at home for a couple of years now. For most of that time, I’ve repurposed older HP and Sun desktop workstations as servers since these applications aren’t mission-critical tools but instead just convenient ways to centralize file storage and to learn administration and application development skills in a sandbox environment.

Anyway, to more closely match what I was doing during my day job with Linux, WebSphere, and DB2, I decided to phase out the aging SPARC system in favor of an eServer back in February so I could reuse, reinforce, and experiment with those skills on my own hardware. The EPP discount made an eServer the obvious choice, so I got myself an xSeries 226 with a solid feature set including an EM64T Xeon processor for under $1000.

Long story short, this thing is great, and I’ve really come to appreciate using true server hardware, particularly how it handled the blackouts that affected my apartment building in Stamford, CT over the past few days while I was 100 miles away in Long Island.

Both times that the power went out for extended periods and returned, the server came back up on its own and carried on doing what it was doing with out my intervention. Seems minor, I suppose, but it’s pretty nice not to manually have to turn on the machine, attach a monitor and keyboard and fsck the file system as was the case with the Sun workstation whenever the power was out for more than a few minutes (Actually, to be fair, the ReiserFS that is default on SuSE 9.2 was responsible for avoiding the manual fsck’s… but I digress). As I said, good stuff.

Anybody else running eServers at home? Doing anything interesting with them? Any particular configurations, upgrades, supporting hardware that you’ve found success with? My set up is pretty basic: Speakeasy DSL (for unblocked ports), a Linksys WRT54G router, a 5 minute UPS for graceful shutdowns, and a GB additional RAM.

I’d eventually like to automate my backups, so suggestions on what others use/do are very much welcome :)


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