Online Capacity Expansion (Gone South) with Openfiler and a 3Ware RAID card

February 20, 2007 by · 5 Comments 

If you've been reading my blog then you'd know that I use OpenFiler for my home storage needs. When I originally provisioned the system it was with a pretty beefy box. One thing I went short on though was storage. I purchased a high-end RAID card (3Ware 9590SE-16ML) but then proceeded to only install 3 drives (Western Digital RE2 500 GB). I did this for a bunch of reasons, but the most important are that, 1. hard drives cost money and they wern't currently needed, 2. hard drive prices go down, and 3. the raid controller I purchased supports Online Capacity Expansion (OCE).

A few days ago I noticed that my storage array was about 80% full. As such, I decided to order another 500GB RE2 (for $40 less than the original three, proving point #2) and test out 3Ware's OCE.

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“Servers” and IDE/SATA Hard Drives

December 29, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

As has already been mentioned a few times, The company I work for runs quite a few vBulletin forums. As such, I spend a decent amount of time over on the forums, particularly in the vBulletin Hosting Options and Server Configuration sections. Lately, however, I've noticed a disturbing trend that is really starting to bug me, especially when I see it from people who should probably know better. That trend is to spend $500+ per month on a server and then saddle it with an IDE or SATA drive (or perhaps 2 in a RAID 1 mirror if they're going "all out") because they offer "more than enough space".

When, exactly, did it become acceptable to put a drive made for light, single-user use for a few hours per day into a situation where it would be hammered by dozens, if not hundreds, of simultaneous connections from all around the planet 24/7/365? It's like buying a Ferrari minus the engine and then tossing the inline-4 from a Hyundai Accent inside.

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Stretching your vBulletin Servers with OpenVZ

December 13, 2006 by · 3 Comments 

Most of the people reading this blog are familiar with the LAMP software bundle (Linux, Apache httpd, MySQL, and one of PHP/Perl/Python). The LAMP stack on a single server is common-place on the internet today because the components are all free and work well together to provide a stable, dynamic web platform (although, interestingly enough, they were not designed to do so). Who says that it's the best way to do things though? When working with complex applications such as vBulletin, there are definite benefits to keeping things separate.

For the past 6 months or so I've been consolidating my servers (both in the office and at remote data centers) using a virtualization package called OpenVZ (the open-source branch of SWSoft's Virtuozzo). Unlike virtualization packages such as VMWare (a system emulator) or Xen (a paravirtualization system), OpenVZ does not allow you to run multiple, different operating systems. OpenVZ will allow you to run Linux on Linux and nothing more. Moreover, it is heavily biased towards RPM-based distributions, so don't plan on getting wild. That said, if you can get past those limitations, OpenVZ might just help you get more out of your existing server because unlike the alternatives, OpenVZ's operating system-level virtualization technique has almost zero performance penalty.

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Build Your Own Home/SOHO NAS

December 4, 2006 by · 17 Comments 

If you're like me, you're probably got more than one computer at home. In fact, if you're like me, you've probably got a half-dozen or so. Wait, that's still not quite right, let me try one more time... If you're like me, you've got a half-dozen computers at home, running a few different operating systems, and you use them all. Yeah, that one's right.

If so, you will, no doubt, have run into the nasty little problem of keeping your files synchronized. If you keep a copy of everything on every machine then that's a huge waste of space. If you don't, you no doubt will need something from a machine that you can't easily access. You've probably thought about setting up a file server but the thought of dishing out $200 (plus hardware) for a copy of Windows isn't really appealing, nor is the thought of taking an old box lying around and installing Linux on it. Luckily, there is a solution that lies half-way in the middle. Its name is OpenFiler.

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Picking the Right Web Host

November 28, 2006 by · 7 Comments 

One of the first things that comes to mind when starting a new web site is "Where will I put it?" This question is easily answered in the beginning as there are thousands of cheap (and occasionally free) web hosts available that will allow you to run a small web site. As time goes on, however, it gets quite a bit more interesting as you try to find a hosting method that will suit your site but not empty your wallet.

At current, there are three main types of hosting available: shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), and dedicated servers. The big question is "When is it appropriate to move from one to the next?" Most people answer that question with something like, "When my site is running slowly" or, "When my host asks me to leave." Both of these answers, unfortunately, will leave you in a bad way and may cause you to lose valuable traffic. The good news is that proper planning and research upfront can really cut down on the headaches later.

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