Posts by Category


Pure New Zealand

This site is driven by Blosxom

his site was written in vi

SDF is driven by NetBSD

Subscribe to this sites RSS/XML feed

This site has a Tableless Stylesheet

Email me

Nov 16, 2005

Text Adventures + More

The Wall Street Journal has an article about Keeping the Text Adventure Genre Alive.

Useful - Using Active Directory Group Policy to restrict USB storage keys.

A list of some of the best OpenSource Mac Software.

A wonderful old article from Byte back in 1977 by Steve Woznaik about creating the Apple II (and Apple, Apple I and II+ among many other things . . .).

A seat switch - switch something On while seated and Off when you get up.

Interesting - reviews of weaponry used in Iraq by the people that have to use them. Sounds like the US Army is relying on a lot of equipment that dates back 40/50 years (M14 rifle, the .45 pistol and the .50 cal heavy machine gun).

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.11.16-19:50.00]

Ultimate Server Room (Updated 06-July-06)

Just a place to dump information on what I would consider the 'Ultimate Server Room' setup that should be something most mid-range IT-shops should be aiming for. Most of this information comes direct from previous workplaces.

Decent UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) that covers the room and supply (not individual machines on a server or rack basis) - with a mains cutover switch should the UPS fail. This should provide at least 90 minutes of power to core servers (firewall, dns, dhcp, email, external internet presence, switches and routers). Having a couple of spare small UPS units on charge is always handy so if need be you can run a PC/Laptop off it if theres an extended outage.

Ability to remotely power-cycle hardware. Something like these products on offer from 42U. Tied into this is the use of KVM over IP and ILO (Integrated Lights Out) - which lets you get console access via the network (usually you point a web browser to the ILO NIC and you'll see the console). All of these tools let you get to your server remotely.

Servers with dual-power supply, dual-nic's (onboard not on a riser card) and RAID arrays (onboard not on a riser) for redundancy. I'm not a huge brand nut but Dell seem to be pretty good value for the price and their incident management based on service tag + extended warranty options are pretty good too. Ideally with kvm ports in the right locations (eg on the front and back like these Petabox systems. For x86 based machines I can't see the point in opting for more expensive Compaq/IBM gear (and their product serial numbers are way to long ;-)

Spare parts for servers - having a spare hotswap power supply (a nice Dell feature), RAID disk's, NIC's. These may be a luxury but when a disk or power supply goes down being able to plug in a replacement immediately buys you valuable time while you arrange for warranty support. Also if you figure the spares into new purchases you'll have the right parts for the right machines (and if you have a good relationship with your account manager you can often wangle this stuff for free).

Redundant server switch backbone for the dual teemed NIC's (eg each NIC goes into a separate switch port and they're teemed to one IP address).

Redundancy for core internal services. DNS, DHCP, NIS, Domain Controller, Active Directory sitting ready to go on a secondary machine (Windows or Unix based depending on what the function is). Low volume services such as these should be consolidated onto a single server with a secondary slave available. A spare system with everything installed and with plenty of disk space should be available to pick up the slack should a core service that isn't replicated fail (eg file, print, mail, intranet) - a nightly rsync/robocopy should keep the data on this system up to date and act as a handy backup if there is a problem with the tape backup.

I really enjoyed this article over at Adminfoo - Why I'm Not a SAN Fan. I kind of agree - the vendor lockin aspect is a little scarey. Granted at some point you'll hit the limitations of direct-attached (difficult to expand and a pain to backup) or NAS storage (limited by the transport medium for throughput - TCP/IP packet size) but until then its best to consider all the pro's and con's of a SAN very carefully.

A business-critical service such as email should where possible be clustered (Lotus Notes / Domino handles this quite well). File and print services can usually be cut across manually fairly easily if need be. External/DMZ services (firewall, mail relay, ftp, web) may be clustered or have a failover (many organisations will have a secondary internet link / firewall should the primary one fail at a different site).

Tape based backup with offsite storage - SuperDLT's seem to be pretty reliable and fast nowadays with plenty of capacity.

Nice Comms racks - Chatsworth make excellent ones.

Server racks that slot together and have sensible rail mount systems that don't require cage-nuts. Dell racks work this way and are much simpler to manage.

False floor with lift-up panels to hide away cable runs between racks.

Suitable airconditioning and ventilation with fire-suppression and remote environment monitoring.

Suitable alarmed security (access card, key, combination lock etc).

And if the resources were available a full DR setup offsite (at least for core services) :-)

All server room details would be maintained in a run-book with information pertaining to each server, its hardware details, serial numbers, tags, age, support-status, purpose, services, maintenance history (hardware/software) etc.

Monitoring of the network and server / service status. Lots of excellent Open Source tools for this - Cactii / MRTG, Nagios / Big Brother, ntop etc etc. Some form of paging or notification when services fall over is a must.

I'm sure I'll have more to add as I think of things. Next I'll create an 'Ultimate Services' entry for the software side of things I think ...

[/tech/ultimate] | [permalink] | [2005.11.16-04:29.00]

Powersquid + More

Finally an evolution in powerboard design for the modern age - the Powersquid. Stops those badly designed ac/dc adaptors (for phones, pdas, mp3 players, digital cameras etc) taking up to much space on a conventional board.

Awesome flash time-lapse rendition of a sketch.

First-look - Hands on with the new XBOX 360.

Interesting - Some of Microsofts server software products will be moving towards 64-bit only versions.

[/links/2005] | [permalink] | [2005.11.16-00:03.00]