Pre Wedding Blog

We’re at T minus 5 days and counting till our wedding, and just about all the prep work before actually getting to Vermont that can be done, has been. So now it’s just hold on tight, and deal with any unforeseens that show up at the last minute.

Today was my last real day of work before leaving for the wedding/honeymoon. I’ll be out of the office for 3 weeks, which will be a nice break from things, especially as this will be the first real vacation of the year. The interns are all clearing out now, so it will be quite a shock to get back to the office and have it be quiet. It’s pretty assured that I won’t really be touching the computer for things like blog updates until I get back, though the laptop will wander with me as a digital photo depo, as well as movie machine.

I’ve been watching a lot of Dr Who of late, mostly the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker). At the same time I’ve been reading a bunch about the history of Doctor Who. While I knew that Douglas Adams had been a script editor for Season 17 of Dr Who (and had written a couple of episodes), I finally put all the pieces together last night that the 2nd Romana was actually married to Tom Baker for a short while, but later ended up meeting Richard Dawkins at Douglas Adams 40th birthday party. After listening to The Salmon of Doubt earlier in the year, which Dawkins can be heard on, I had purchased Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker as Adams spoke so highly of it. While I had heard Dawkins mention meeting his wife at Adams party, all the pieces hadn’t fallen into place about how close that circle was until last night.

It has nothing to do with the wedding, other than giving me a pleasant distraction from any stress, but it was nice none the less.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my hands on some jelly babies…

Building a new home media server

This weekend I finally built my new home file server (been meaning to do this for most of 2006). The impetus was that last weekend I noticed Seagate 320 GB SATA2 drives priced at $95 / per on NewEgg, and just couldn’t resist.

The final contents of the system involved:

  • MSI K9N Platinum MB (6 onboard SATA, 2 onboard gig-e nics)
  • Athon64 x2 4400 CPU
  • 2 GB Ram
  • 6 x 320 GB (16 MB cache) Seagate Drives
  • A nice Lian Li case which takes 12 internal 3.5 drives
  • 600 W PSU

I scrounged a diamond stealth pci video card from 1999, a CD drive, and a small 20 GB IDE drive for the base OS (raid root was something I didn’t want to tackle).

I started by trying to install Mandriva 2007 b1 CDs….

Fail. Machine consistently turns off during “determining package selection…” screen. As in hard power off.

I then tried Mandriva 2006 i586 CDs (no reason to be 64bit yet)

Fail. There appears to be an issue with the onboard sata drives on this version of Mandriva. After much fiddling I end up turning off the sata controller in the BIOS to install.

Partial Success. Things install this time around with Mandriva, though the onboard nics aren’t found. So I throw in a 100 Mb card I’ve got laying around.

Fail. Machine doesn’t boot under installed kernel. It can’t find /dev/hda. Under the CD boot kernel, and the rescue kernel this is fine. I first blame this on LVM root, so reinstall without it, but no help there. Time to leave the problem alone and head of to NYC for shopping for the wedding.

Sunday morning… more coffee… more time to think…

I try an Ubuntu 6.06 CD, just to see if I’m hitting a Mandriva weirdness.

Fail. Machine turns off as soon as it starts looking for packages. Well, at least this is on a few distros.

Ok, Rescue CD it is. With Rescue CD in hand, I decide to pull down source, and rebuild my kernel. It looks like at least a few nforce5 fixes went into 2.6.17, so that should make things better.

Success! As soon as I purge some of the hacks out of my kernel appends (which were screwing up ACPI discover of the sata drives), I can now boot with sata and onboard ethernet enabled, and working. Raid 5 setup took nearly no time, and given the write speed, I was able to push all 228 GB of data in the house that needed to be on that array there overnight.

This whole process took a little longer than I expected, but in the end was well worth it. In all it’s glory, here is the really cool df output, that uses T. 🙂

gallifrey:~> df
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda5 3.9G 1.9G 1.8G 52% /
/dev/mapper/vg-home 1.6G 39M 1.6G 3% /home
/dev/md0 1.5T 228G 1.3T 16% /data