Although I had been threatening to get the new server up since August, the confirmed death of HAL and fall storms convinced me it’s time to get the new platform running.
Our backup server, based on an old Dell I acquired from Freecycle, was also showing the effects of age and the dreaded Dell capacitor rot. After yanking out the failing capacitors, we had to use a small desk fan to keep the insides from overheating and shutting down.
Late last week, I finally got the last bits in, FreeBSD installed with Apache, PHP, and MySQL. One function I’ve been wanting is both a backup solution, and access to a ‘cloud server’ I could trust. (Based on their terms and conditions, I don’t trust Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, or any of the other ‘free’ services.)
With the drop in hard drive cost, I added three 1 TB drives, and recompiled the FreeBSD kernel to use the Oracle ZFS filesystem. With the ZFS filesystem, configured “RAID-Z’ for redundant storage protection, the three 1 TB drives gives us just short of 2 TB storage. Working with the basic Apache stack and the ZFS filesystem, along with some additional PHP modules, I was able to add on Nextcloud to our system for storage, backups, and data access anywhere.
The system is working fine, as you’re reading now from our new server. Still working on adding the ‘apps’ to the cell phone to access our own cloud, but they are mostly working fine as well.
If you’ve been trying to see what we’ve been up to these past few days, you probably got a timeout or web page inaccessible message the past few days.
We lost power in the storm Sunday night / Monday morning, around 2:40 AM. A lot of people in the Merrimack Valley lost power that evening, as we had a storm come through with hard rain and strong winds. There were a few places in the area that clocked gusts in excess of 90 MPH. Lots of trees and branches down. We had a tree come down on Robin Hood, just around the corner from us, pulling down electrical wires and blocking the road. Our generator had been running full time since early Monday morning, so keeping the website up has not been a priority here.
We hosted Anne and Mike last night, as they lost power too, but didn’t have a generator. Joyce skipped major cooking and brought home Market Basket roasted chicken and salad, and made mashed potatoes on the stove.
I got a call from George about 12:30 this afternoon (school was canceled because the buses couldn’t run their regular routes) saying our power was back on. I talked him through the process of switching back to line power, and shutting the generator down. Still lots of people in the area without power, hope they all get power back soon.
Bundled under a blanket on the couch last night, Joyce gently suggested that perhaps it might be time to turn the heat back on. Summer is gone, leaves are turning, frost sparkles on the morning grass. We finally turned the heat back on last night. Woke this morning to a comfortable house, with the warm smell of the heaters working. Fall is here.
As you saw on my last post, our original family website server died. It served us well for many years, stretching back to just before Joyce and I were married. This was the system I started my own business on, and launched another business, before joining my current laboratory.
Hal then was repurposed as the kids’ original computer (with a new power supply and motherboard), and lived again for several years until the kids outgrew the platform. He was again repurposed, dumping windows for FreeBSD to run the website (and other functions) you are reading now.
Tests on the system showed both the motherboard and power supply had gone bad. I don’t know which one went first, and took the other with it, but all the memory, drives, fans, and USB interfaces could be salvaged. The new server is coming along well, hope to get it done and on-line soon.
Well, that was a bit of a scare. We’re currently running on a backup server, after the kids old ‘HAL-9000‘ we had been running on failed. So of course, the backup server overheated and went down yesterday afternoon. Just got it restored earlier this evening, and got the database and directory structure backed up to my desktop system.
Less than a month ago, we had ~10″ of snow on the ground. Today, it’s hitting 80+, and the glacier to the side of our driveway is nearly gone. Suppose to cool down a bit and rain, but still a lot better than teens and twenties with ice and snow.
So far, we haven’t been hit too bad. We did get one power ‘glitch’ about 3:30, just after I took this picture. Power was off for about two seconds, then came back.
We’ll probably get more than the 5″ NWS was predicting earlier this week, but I doubt it’s going to be the 18″ – 24″ the TV has been hyping. The kids schools were canceled yesterday afternoon, and my work decided to close for the day as well.
It’s starting to wind down now, we’ll probably go out a bit later and start digging out.
Update – 14 Mar 2017 7:00 PM
We were able to get out and clear the driveway after dinner. Depending on where measured, we got anywhere from 7.5″ to 10.5″. While snowfall reports around us were more, we suspect the bulk of the blowing snow was trapped in the woods around our house.
Found this gem in our comments from the main family webpage:
Did you know that if you stare at the sun for 15 minutes a day, that you won’t need to eat food anymore? You will literally gain superhuman abilities and feel like an enlightened person. Obviously you would need to stare at the sun during the early morning or late evening when the sun is at it’s lowest brightness. But NASA did a study and proved that people who engage in this sun-staring practice achieve a state of high spiritual and mental enlightenment. Full information here (link removed).
Not sure if they were looking for someone that gullible, or just trying to get clicks by posting outrageous nonsense. Either way, no links from us, bunko.
Over the past few weeks, our webcam has been rebooting at various odd times. I’ve checked it for loose power plugs, but it otherwise seemed fine. Then last Monday, someone tried to post the webcam’s administrator account name and password on our main page. They didn’t leave their name, but IP address goes back to an ISP in Tennessee, most likely somewhere around Kingsport. It seems that I’ve violated my own security rules, in that I left the default accounts on the webcam server. In particular I had left the account with administrator privileges named as ‘admin’. Thank you, ‘Anonymous’, for pointing this out to me.
Interestingly, site logs show visitors from the Russian Federation about the same time ‘Anonymous’ tried to post, along with the (routine) Sogou web spider from China and several odd URL scans from Google. Interesting.