Neverending Hardware Issues when Creating a Backup Server

My first attempt at creating a backup server left me with a dead motherboard. I replaced the motherboard with an old but reliable socket A EPoX board I had been using in my HTPC. After booting and changing eth0 to eth1 in my network config, the server was ready to go. I started the backup and everything looked good. It ran overnight and got about 500 GB off the server. I then started copying about 250 GB of data from the server to another computer. After a couple hours of this, my server went offline, and I was left sitting at work wondering why. I was hoping for a power outage, but when I arrived back at home, I discovered only the networking on the file server had gone out, leaving thousands of these lines in dmesg:

NETDEV WATCHDOG: eth0: transmit timed out
NETDEV WATCHDOG: eth0: transmit timed out
NETDEV WATCHDOG: eth0: transmit timed out

I’m not yet sure why my network card stopped working, Google or the Ubuntu forums should help, or I could just refer back to my pre-rma’d motherboard and remember that the Marvell skge network controller died on that motherboard completely, and move to other built in network card on the mobo, by NVIDIA. If all that fails, dropping some money on a quality Intel NIC will solve the problem. Unless the problem exists in my switch.

Update: Switching the the integrated NVIDIA network interface appears to have fixed this issue. Hooray for workarounds.

How to Quickly move from Typo to WordPress

After what feels like forever without a stable release, I’ve decided to move back to WordPress. While there are some scripts out on the web to move everything over, I used the simple method, which appears to get everything except for comments and the splits in large posts. The procedure is quick:

  1. On Typo, go into the admin section, set rss feeds to 1000 or something high.
  2. On your computer, download your RSS feed to a text file (I used wget).
  3. On WordPress, go to import, choose RSS, and find the file you downloaded.

That’s it.

Create the Perfect Rails Server in 15 Minutes

I recently noticed that the next release of Ubuntu Linux will be one nice Ruby on Rails platform. After their last update of Rails itself, which brought the version number up from 1.0 to 1.1.2, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS now has all the current Rails tech built in. There is no need to search the web for all the pieces and compile package after package until finding one that works. Here are the highlights:

  • Rails 1.1.2
  • Lighttpd 1.4.11
  • MySQL 5.0.21 or 4.1.15
  • Ruby 1.8.4
  • Ruby-FCGI 0.8.6
  • Ruby-MySQL 2.7

This means that after a 10 minute server install of Ubuntu, one can uncomment the universe repo in /etc/apt/sources.list and issue the following command to setup at capable and competent Rails server environment:

sudo apt-get install ruby1.8 mysql-server rails lighttpd libmysql-ruby1.8 libfcgi-ruby1.8

Then copy your Rails app over and configure it in Lightty you’re off. Now to find a hosting company which supports Ubuntu…

Update: Rubygems can be useful, but it isn’t in the standard repos. Instead, I downloaded and compiled rubygems-0.9.0.tgz.

Update2: I removed the Ubuntu-supplied rails and instead used rails from rubygems.

Email Move Complete

I finally finished moving my email server from a self hosted setup to Gmail for Domains. There were three main parts of the move: configuring inbound email to end up on the Gmail servers, copying all my current email to Gmail, and then setting up local mail to be sent using Google’s SMTP server. The most time consuming part of the move was copying all my current mail over using a nice utility someone had written. Configing the DNS services and watching the changes propigate was the most interesting part of the move.

Postfix has been replaced with ssmtp on my server, and I now have a few extra CPU cycles and MB’s of memory to dedicate to Apache, Lighty, and MySQL.

Gmail for your domain!

Just got the coolest email ever:

Welcome to our beta test!

Thanks for helping us test Gmail for your domain! We’re excited to help you offer Gmail accounts with your domain.

Here’s how to get started:

While I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to give up controlling my own mail server, I’m actually excited about it now. I’ll no longer need to keep updating my postfix+cyrus+mysql setup, which will allow me more time with Apache, Lighttpd, and MySQL. Plus the constant struggle of slowing down spam is something I’d be happy of offload. The more I think about it, the less reasons I have for not moving. Space? 2 GB is more than enough. Ads? I’ll get less spam with Gmail, at least the ads will be targeted and not stupid, if they exist at all. IMAP access? The GMail web interface is just as effienct to work with, if not more, than Thunderbird. Plus standard Gmail has at least POP access, this may even offer IMAP, I guess we’ll see.

And then there are thing which are just better all around, such as the Gmail web interface vs Squirrelmail and the spam filter which just works vs. manual tuning of spam assassin. Time to go sign up.

New MySQL, new FrozenTech

I felt good about my current state of the RoR FrozenTech Store so I decided to roll it out tonight. I quickly realized I would have to upgrade my MySQL from 4.0 to 4.1, something I had been putting off for a while. I followed the Gentoo upgrade docs, and they worked perfectly, but it did take over an hour to compile the new version plus all the other stuff which depened on it. That was fine though, as Christina and I watched some episodes of Battlestar from season one which we had not seen.

After everything was done compiling, I restored all the databases, checked existing sites, uploaded new files, edited apache and lighttpd config files, and restarted every service a few times. The good news is that everything looks like it’s working the way it should. There’s still a lot of tweaking that need to be done to the store and the surrounding site, but I’m looking forward to it. The Ruby on Rails environment has been fun to work with.

RAID Redone

Found a 300 GB Seagate IDE drive yesterday at a decent price at Circuity City. It will become my new USB backup drive, my current 200 GB USB backup drive will move into my RAID array (losing 80GB in the process), and the current 120 GB drive in the array is being trashed, since its 3 year warranty expired January 8th (21 days ago).

Everything in the raid recovery went well, I shutdown the system, swapped disks, and started back up. After several hours of rebuilding, the array is running again in normal mode and all data is still intact.

Fun with RAID

Woke up this morning to find this in my inbox:


WARNING: Some disks in your RAID arrays seem to have failed!
Below is the content of /proc/mdstat:

Personalities : [linear] [raid0] [raid1] [raid5]
md0 : active raid5 sdg1[6] sdf1[5] sde1[4] sdd1[3] sdc1[2] sdb1[7](F) sda1[0]
703121664 blocks level 5, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [7/6] [U_UUUUU]

unused devices:


Which means I get to buy a new hard drive today since everything in my RAID is out of warranty, and I don’t have any spare drives at the moment. I’ll be looking for something with a decent warranty and a big trunk.

Rails on Lighttpd with Apache!

After struggling all day yesterday, I finally got my typo installs going on Lighttpd with Apache passthough. I think it was the virtual server aspect that kept messing me up, but after 4 hours yesterday, I somehow got it going after 30 seconds of work this morning.

Typo feels much faster now than when it was running on plain Apache2 + FCGI.