November 27, 2021


Sunday, September 17, 2006
Time for another technical post.

Earlier this year, I built 2 servers for the house: one as a general file and web server, and the other as a private PBX using Asterisk. I talked about the PBX a bit in a previous post.

On the file server, I decided to put in a RAID 5 system that would give me lots of storage for movies, mp3s, and personal data. Using a RAID 5 system allows me to have lots of space, but more importantly, allows me some redundancy so that I can lose one hard drive due to a failure and not lose any data or uptime.

To build the raid, I wanted to use Seagate hard drives. I have been impressed with them in the past and they now offer an awesome 5 year warranty on their hard-drives which is great. I bought all of the parts off of Newegg (my favorite site to order this kind of stuff - great service). The hard drives I bought were "Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3250824AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM". This is a SATA II drive (higher speed) so I needed a SATA II controller that would work well in linux. I decided on the Promise SATA TX4 controller. It does not have a hardware raid: it is a controller only, which is why it is affordable. No worries. The linux software raid works just fine. I also bought a gigabit network card.

Everything has been working great. I used Centos and got all of the hardware set up. I had a small glitch with the Promise SATA driver, but I easily found the bug in the install script and fixed it manually. I set up a software RAID for RAID 5 using the 4 250 GB drives which gave me 750 GB of usable space. I set up mdmonitor to email me on any events I should know about (such as a failed drive) and everything has been great.

A few weeks ago, we had some sort of weird power event. My server locked up for the first time ever. I received an email telling me the array was degraded and it automatically rebuilt across the other drives. Awesome - it did what it was supposed to. I pulled out the failed drive, filed an RMA on seagate's website, and a new drive arrived in a few days. I installed it, and ran "mdadm /dev/md0 --add /dev/sdb". That was it. It detected the new drive, rebuilt the array on all 4 drives (with no downtime), and in about an hour, I was back up to being single fault tolerant. Awesome.

Kudos to Seagate for a really good RMA process. Also to the mdadm developers - the software raid performs very well and is very easy to maintain.

If anyone is setting up a similar software raid and has some questions, let me know and I'll see if I can help.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006
I had a wonderful birthday weekend. It started with sleeping late. Then we had a big breakfast. Then we watched the shuttle launch. Then we played baseball in the front yard. Then we played XBOX. Then we took naps. Then we went to a Japanese Hibachi restaurant for my birthday dinner (it was wonderful). Then we played some more XBOX. Then we slept late again. Then we ate an even bigger breakfast. Then we took naps. Then we played some XBOX. You get the idea...

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful birthday. I got lots of phone calls and birthday cards... I am loved by many people. Thanks to all of you. Neo told me before he went to bed that he loved me and he thought I had the best birthday party ever. I couldn't agree more.

Looking at the website, I'm realizing that I forgot to put a link to the pictures from San Francisco. You can see our pics from the trip here.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006
I wrote a project page describing the code I wrote for the new photo gallery. The page explains how I wrote the sync scripts that keep the website in sync with my PC, how I generate the thumbnails with the mkThumb utility and a recursive perl script, how I dynamically generate the XML data for the SimpleViewer utility using php, and also how I make the directory navigation/breadcrumbs bar at the top in php.

Hopefully the code will be helpful to others. You can find the page here. If the code is helpful to you, please write me. I would love to hear about it!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006
San Francisco is a pretty awesome place. California, for that matter, is a pretty awesome place. Cool weather. Clean air. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors... that is probably what I enjoyed the most.

Of course, the real reason I was there was for a wedding for one of my college buddies, Mike. Mike and Mindy had a beautiful wedding in Sausalito, California in a church on the side of the mountain. The reception was amazing. It was on the water and they had some amazing food. Also, the rehearsal dinner the night before was amazing as well.

Christian, Neo, and I want to congratulate Mike and Mindy on their new life together. We will keep them in our prayers.

After the wedding, I got to tour a bit of the area with some of my college buddies. We went to a comedy club one night which was pretty fun and saw Patton Oswalt (the geeky guy "Spence" on King of Queens). We also visited Alcatraz, went to the Muir Woods (home of the tallest trees in the world), went to the top of Mt. Tamalpais (which was on top of the clouds) and took a wine tour at the Benziger Winery in Sonoma Valley (which is next to Napa Valley).

I didn't get many souveniers, but the one nice thing I got was two bottles of wine for Vince and Amy. I don't remember exactly what they were, but one was a Reserve Chardonnay, and the other was an estate wine (a blend). The estate wine (also known as "single vineyard") means it is made solely from grapes on the Benziger estate and none of the other grapes from other farms are used. There is very limited production of this obviously, so it is only available to people on the tour and to people in their wine club... it is not usually available in stores. The chardonnay is a reserve wine, which is also very low distribution and hard to get. You can see some previous reserve wines and estate wines on their website here. Overall, I was very impressed with the company, the family, and the wine. If you haven't tried it, look for it the next time you are at the store. Vince and Amy - the wine should arrive when they feel the weather is cool enough that the shipping process won't diminish the wine due to heat, so I would expect it in the next month or two. Enjoy it and let me know how you like it!

Congratulations again to Mike and Mindy for a beautiful wedding and their new family.

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