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Re: Advice on quiet but powerful hardware for Debian

On Friday 01 October 2004 11:15, Chris Evans wrote:
> Another request to this amazing list.  I've run a web server which
> has a few simple perl CGI scripts but also some moderately CPU heavy
> R statistics CGI things.  The box also runs SMTP (postfix) and double
> opt-in Email lists (ecartis).  It's all run beautifully stably on an
> old box running Debian stable behind another Debian box which acts as
> three port firewall.  The server box is getting very old and I'd like
> to speed up the R things so it's time to upgrade.  Graphics power is
> not an issue on this machine as it's almost used only in text mode
> over ssh.
> Budget is not huge but my biggest constraint is probably that I have
> very little time for sysadmin work any more as this isn't my paying

The system I describe below essentially runs totally automatically without 
much need to sysadmin anything.  I do of course take a look to fiddle with 
things quite frequently when I am at home in the evenings (although I am 
often away on business).

> job.  Other huge constraint is that the machines sit in the room I
> work in and listen to music in.  I'd love to make the machine as
> quiet as possible within the need for some real grunt power.

Time, I think, to ask some balancing questions.  How much power to your 
_really_ need against the noise and cost questions.

I am running a server at home which supports the following

Web Server (Apache2+php4+drupal+postgres)
Mail Server (Exim4-Heavy+SpamAssassin+Clamav+Fetchmail+Courier 
Subversion Server
SSHD server
Naming Services (Bind+DHCP)
Time Synchronisation Services (Chrony)
File and Print Services (Samba, NFS, Rsyncd+cupsys)
Backups (cron+rsync)

This supports a combination of up to (when daughters are home from university) 
3 laptops and 2 desktops which all use those services.

This is on a celeron 1.7GHz with 256Mb Mem and three IDE disks (three - only 
because I had the drives and wanted to have as much for the backup role as 
possible, not because its necessary) +CD reader (just for booting).  CPU 
usage is almost at zero and even with the limited memory, I have only a small 
amount of used swap space (1Mb).

It does NOT have a screen, although I do keep a spare keyboard, and mouse and 
the cable for a screen so I can move my desktop screen over in an emergency.  
Normally I just ssh into the box and do everything in text mode.  I haven't 
needed to connect the screen for about a year.

Backup is done via disk to disk (overnight cron job) and this machine also 
acts as the backup machine for my desktops (given the disk space).  Changes 
to key files goes into a disk archiving system that keeps daily, weekly and 
monthly copies of all changes and eventually dumps old changes into a CD 
archive area on my desktop machine for writing to CD.

Until just recently when I upgraded to linux 2.6 it has been running non-stop 
24/7 for over 6 months

I _could_ run all of this (minus the third disk) on one of these barebones 
systems (I don't - but I do have experience of these for desktops - they are 
extremely quiet).


(disclaimer, I have not used them as a supplier, I just checked with who I 
used before, - overclockers UK - and they now seem to stock similar but other 

> So questions I have are:
> 1) Can anyone recommend any company or consultant who puts together
> Debian based systems in the UK?

It is fairly easy to put together the hardware for one of these in about 2 

Do a net install of debian using the new installer

> 2) Assuming I do it myself I'm telling myself that it's probably time
> to go to SATA, to use at least RAID0 mirroring to minimise risk of
> losing things, to push the CPU power as high as I can (dual
> processor?) and the RAM up to 1G at least and perhaps to add some DVD
> writer for backup (though currently I can get the all the things I
> need to backup onto a CD).

See my comments on backup - disk to disk (also try and do this so that disks 
are on seperate ide channels) for protection against loss - write out to 
something for archiving old or changing data.  I find the volume of CD writer 
perfectly adequate for that, and the format is a little more "standard" than 
the competing DVD writer standards

> I have been thinking of Opteron CPU looking toward Debian64 some day
> but perhaps that's a bit distant and a bad basis on which to go that
> way.  Any recommendations of drives, CPU, RAM and motherboards and

From the URL given above, they have AMD64 solutions in the range

Alan Chandler
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
 then they fight you, then you win. --Gandhi

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