I teach an old dog many new tricks
and salvaged hardware. One of my favorite YouTube channels
is The 8-bit Guy, who
rescues old Commodores from attics and junk-heaps,
considerable time scrubbing them out, soldering, tinkering, and
releasing them back into service. Then, there is "Play With Junk", a
European fellow whose disembodied voice accompanies thorough
teardowns of "big iron" enterprise-class systems and
salvaging a decommissioned Xeon rackmount server, I eagerly
accepted his challenge. Together we lugged this beast into my
apartment, where it sat for quite a while. I had so much to do in
my second semester at MCC, and I needed to figure out a way to
position and connect the machine to my other systems.
PowerEdge 2650 system, of approximate 2004 vintage. It
features twin 32-bit Xeon CPUs at 2.8GHz with 512K L2 cache. This
is, I believe, the "Prestonia"
Xeon 2.8B. FSB is 533MT/s (also noted 533MHz, perhaps this
is one in the same.) The bus is PCI/PCI-X with 64-bit
full-length slots. Installed memory is 12288MB
(12GB) ECC DDR
DIMMS. Five hot-swap Ultra3 SCSI
hard disk drives are installed in front. A venerable 3.5"
1.44MB floppy drive and standard CD-ROM optical are accessed from
the front panel. The I/O ports are all the standard PC-compatible
ports of those bygone days. Notably, there are twin 1000BaseT
Ethernet ports and a DRAC3 module for
out-of-band management, also Ethernet-based.
Twin hot-swap power
supply units, complete with fans, plug into standard 110V power. A
small matrix LCD display scrolls text status messages, and a sturdy
bezel panel can be placed over the front panel, concealing the
unsightly workings behind it, and provides its own multifunction
status lamp for at-a-glance diagnostics. The BIOS revision is A17.
This machine is designed for high
availability and fault-tolerance. Its
many fans and its 500W power make it a quite noisy and thirsty
guest in my home office.
indicate its long period of service, with quite a bit of grime
accumulated. It would benefit from a thorough cleanup and
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I wrestled this behemoth
into my office and found a way to connect everything necessary.
Soon I decided its hostname would be "corazon", which in Spanish
means "heart". With the twin Ethernet interfaces, there is one for
Jesus and one for the Immaculate
Heart of Mary.
I powered on the system, and the front-panel LCD indicated
trouble with fan RPM and one of the two PSUs.
outlet, keeping the left-side plugged in. When I powered on again,
the front-panel LCD still complained: "E0412: RPM FAN 2"
supplies and the HDDs, as there were failures each time. I feel
that I must misunderstand the numbering scheme used by the system
or something about the hot-swap facility, because the failures did
not occur in any predictable or systematic way, such that swapping
could indicate a bad connector, port or device. I made no attempt
to remedy these PSU issues by disassembly, because that is a
high-risk and counterproductive activity for someone who is
untrained and lacks the proper tools.
fatal errors and would prevent a system boot, but as it turns out,
the system simply takes its sweet time to run POST-time diagnostics
and probes. Ultimately, I was able to boot an operating system and
begin the installation process.
DHCP addressing on the DRAC module.
of business was a memtest. I had
enabled "OS Install Mode", which had the effect of limiting RAM to
256MB. That was ostensibly some kind of Windows hack, so I disabled
it, but memtest still threw plenty of errors such as: 0x00effedc80
at 3839.8 MB.
For as long as I am performing maintenance on the system, I do not
intend to reinstall the bezel anyway. The connector seems
proprietary and specialized; it may be worth picking one up on
without being seated, which must have been an common-sense test for
me. Once I had them firmly plugged, I found that one wouldn't
respond; SCSI commands failed and the LED flashed amber. As I
swapped disks around, I could not quite understand whether it was a
disk unit failure, or the controller, etc. Four of the disks
including the failed one, and the fifth is IBM/Hitachi, which
indicates that perhaps had been a replacement while in service.
Each has a capacity of 68.3GB.
screen. No bad block errors were indicated. I enabled RAID 5 and assembled
a new container with the 4 remaining physical disks: a 205GB
container. I triggered a SCRUB, and it ran for several hours.
Ending a second day of labors, I retired to pray and sleep through
6.9 as the preferred Linux distribution here. CentOS is
essentially the free-download version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
I could not take advantage of the latest CentOS 7, because hardware
support has already been discontinued. The kernel did indicate
Store Bypass (Spectre-NG) vulnerability. The world is
moving to 64-bit systems; developers and vendors find it quite
difficult to support legacy hardware with diminishing returns on
their investment. Likewise, we will find that many 32-bit software
package maintainers will drop support and EOL their applications.
This is a concern from not only a standpoint of bug-fixes, but also
security vulnerabilities. Your security risks grow as you
accumulate more abandoned and unmaintained software in a world
where everyone is connected to the Internet, and new holes are
inevitably discovered in old systems.
encrypted filesystem and ext4 on top. Unfortunately,
CentOS 6 will not install with XFS. My other wish was
to experiment with ZFS, but
documentation indicated that 32-bit systems were unstable and
unreliable, so I decided to simply play it safe. I undertook an
installation of the groups "X Window System" and "KDE Desktop",
just temporarily, so that I could have a web browser and terminal
windows while I did more work. The peculiar thing about the OS
workout is that the machine does not act like it has bad RAM, but I
would yet have grave reservations about the errors claimed by
memtest. I partitioned the filesystems into /, /home, and
expect to have quite a few learning experiences in my near
future. Pavlos was wise to warn
me about learning to walk before we can run. When I decided to
replace the passphrase with a better one, I was reminded of the
importance of meticulous documentation in such matters. I could not
read my writing and nearly decided all my data was lost when the
new (and old) passphrase wouldn't work. Then, I discovered that all
three logical volumes had their own passphrases attached, and I had
to run cryptsetup(8) multiple
times in order to first add the new one, and delete the old one: a
list of more than one passphrase can be applied to each.
III. There is no way to communicate with the DRAC. Every
modern web browser refuses to connect due to an outdated
RC4 cipher, and other HTTP protocol errors. I
Ubuntu , running on Ubuntu 18.04 (64-bit)
1.4.1, GNUTLS 3.5.17, ncurses 6.1.20180127(wide)
environment, you would need to maintain a legacy OS running an
outdated browser. I came to find out that DRAC3 has been obsolete
since Windows Server 2008. The DRAC is an essential component of
datacenter operations; without this kind of remote management, you
would need to send a human operator onto the machine room floor,
plug in a keyboard and monitor, and power-cycle or diagnose the
system in person. The DRAC allows all of this to happen remotely
from the comfort of your own home, office, or coffeehouse (please
use VPNs and firewalls.)
items I would need to scrub before it is taken away from my
personal home network. I used "yum
groupinstall" for a "kitchen sink" approach to loading software
that may be useful in such an enterprise server environment. I
configured the NFS client to mount from my desktop server, but of
course this Xeon would surely be configured as a fileserver in its
Xeon server which I have christened "corazon". It has given me
experience with a hardware RAID controller, an up-close encounter
with this and other HA/redundancy features that are now common to
commercial enterprise systems, and I have augmented the education
and experience I gained with my CompTIA A+
team and the Phoenix Linux User Group As I
work toward a degree in Linux
Network Administration and certifications
in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, this is exactly the sort of
hands-on experience that will draw attention from prospective
employers and clients. All thanks and praise be to God the Father,
the Source of all blessings and graces, in His only Son, Jesus
Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever