The Lone Geek Blog

One geek in a sea of nerds.

Keeping Things Cool

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hmm, running my server at night with the door closed still might not be the best decision. :/ in just a few hours, like 4 or 5 hours, it elevated my room to uncomfortable levels and disrupted my sleep while I was practically naked over the covers (just undies). I’m naturally hot so not good. I don’t have to do anything to sweat, it just happens. anyway, I need a better solution.

  1. Continue to shutdown the server at night while the door is closed to give the AC a break.
  2. Leave the door open and let the AC run more often than dad likes, potentially freezing them at the other end of the house because of our weird vent layout. (how rooms get colder the farther away than the ones closest to the unit, is beyond me)
  3. Install a vent above the door to allow air to circulate without having to keep the door open all the time.
  4. Replace the server with something more efficient for 24/7 runtime and either keep or sell the R710 (preferably keep and just upgrade it for ram hungry tasks during the day if I wanted). I do have a “small” optiplex running as a server but it doesn’t have a hdd setup or enough ram or cpu power to run a handful of windows servers and whatnot. I just use it for plex and a few small linux VMs.
  5. Consider single room AC units. I like the wall mounted bar shaped ones. They are expensive but silent. That could easily keep a small rack of servers cool if I ever build up a collection of them.

I’d probably end up doing #4 anyway. I was considering that simply for the noise levels of the R710 but after my “quick” fan mod, it’s quiet enough to run 24/7 if I wanted to and still coexist in the same room all day. It’s just, as it turns out, I ran into a cooling issue. lol. I’ll likely alternate between #1 and #2 until I find another powerful but cheap used computer that’ll run ESXI.

The tempature issue kinda sucks. I really like my R710. Even better with the fan mod. Speaking of, I need to mod it into the chassis somehow. There’s a little bay below the DVD Drive that I’m gussing was for a tape drive years ago, it only measures like 4 inches with my handy ruler. Too narrow for a 3.5" HDD and way too narrow for a 5.25" ODD or panel. So I thought of poking a hole in the grill and mount the potentiometer and secure the arduino somehow or pick up a chineese PWM generator and mount that in that space. I will also need to source 5v power for either solution but I have a couple ideas on that for a future post.

I think that’s it for now, cheers my fellow nerds!

R710 Be Quiet!

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I realize it’s an enterprise grade server but it sits on a box in my room and I need to be able to sleep and leave it running overnight if I wanted to. At the moment, I power it down at night and work on it from another room.

So I bought some fans and plan to hopefully slow them down enough to where I could leave the server running and not disturb my sleep and not overheat any components. My main concern will be the raid card because when I pulled all the fans out, everything seemed to run cool over the course of a few minutes but the raid card would exceed 150°F with the cover off but with the fans running it would cool down to around 80-90°F, close to the tempature of everything else.

According to some guides people have posted about the poweredge 2950, they’d use a resistor of around 10 - 47 ohms to reduce the voltage and slow down the fans. When the extras come in, I can begin the mods, starting with a low resistor and working up till I can get the rpm low enough on idle that it doesn’t bother me anymore.

Some people have also hacked the firmware of the old poweredge servers but I haven’t found anything relating to the R710 or know anything about hacking it’s firmware to adjust the fan curve. The fans don’t leave me much room for the resistor “hack” but that’s why I got spares. :)

… just waiting on fans to arrive and time to do the mods.

Update: 1 Week later…

Well the fans arrived a few days ago and well, turns out I didn’t really need them. heh. So I began to experiment with resistors on the fans but the ones that may lower the speed enough to where idle was quiet would overheat instantly cause all I had was ¼ watt resistors. Not really a good idea for a fan that could easily pull 18 watts at full rpm. So that was a bust.

Then I had another idea. PWM. Take advantage of the fan’s speed control and just bypass the server’s control. Enter the arduino and some code.

This is what I used;

int pwm = 3; // assigns pin 12 to variable pwm
int pot = A0; // assigns analog input A0 to variable pot
int t1 = 0;   // declares variable t1
int t2 = 0;   // declares variable t2
void setup()  // setup loop
  pinMode(pwm, OUTPUT); // declares pin 12 as output
  pinMode(pot, INPUT);  // declares pin A0 as input
void loop()
  t2= analogRead(pot); // reads the voltage at A0 and saves in t2
  t1= 1000-t2;         // subtracts t2 from 1000 ans saves the result in t1
  digitalWrite(pwm, HIGH); // sets pin 12 HIGH
  delayMicroseconds(t1);   // waits for t1 uS (high time)
  digitalWrite(pwm, LOW);  // sets pin 12 LOW
  delayMicroseconds(t2);   // waits for t2 uS (low time)

I wired a potentiometer to the arduino and with the code, I was able to control the fans. All 5 of them. :) Right now the arduino sits outside of the server with the pwm wire poking out via a top vent. At the moment, I have them at 2,520 RPM compaired to their usual 3,800-4,200 RPM. The exhaust temps might be a few degrees higher but eh, it should be fine.

Side note: The 10k RPM SAS HDDs seem a bit chatty when they get busy now that I can hear them over the fans. XD

Until next time!!! Wheee!

Update One of Many on My Server

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My Server came in Last week and I had some time to play with it. I looked it over a bit and found a place to put it so I can boot it up. Took a few minutes to learn the multiple bios menus. It has one for the main bios, network config, raid card, iDRAC6, and even a thing to update firmware of everything on it. All before the OS even boots.

It arrived with everything the ebay seller said it did but once I learned how to configure the raid, one of the SAS drives were faulty so I ran with one with RAID-1 configured on it until a replacement arrived. Once it did, about a week after the server did cause I ordered one shortly after I learned of that fact, I was able to go back into the RAID controller and assign the new drive to the existing RAID Array. It took some time to sync up but once it completed, it was good to go. The funny part, I was backing up the working drive before I learned how to add the drive without distroying the existing Virtual Disk. lol.

So during the week between the server’s arrival and the replacement drive’s arrival, I setup VMware ESXI 6.5 on it and installed a few VMs. Windows Server 2016 and a couple Win10 Pro clients for a mock Active Directory Setup. Currently, I have the Windows Server running AD, DNS, DHCP, WDS, and perhaps something else I’m forgetting. It’s been slightly challenging, everything on the Internal LAN side seems to work. I can install and configure a VM connected to the Internal LAN, all from the server. I’m gonna work on buiding a Unintended Install config to automate new VM creations. :D

It came with iDRAC6 Express which is cool, I can power it up and down remotely on cue. I ended up ordering a iDRAC6 Enterprise card on the same day I ordered the SAS Drive replacement and with that installed, I get to view the console remotely. How cool is that? Forget RDP with VirtualBox, I get to see everything it’s doing from my laptop anywhere on the lan. Outdoors if I wanted to. Anywhere on the web if I forward the ports for it. XD

The server is quite nice, just a bit noisy but I think I might try to find a place to put it where it can happily run with little to no noise to bother me with. Unless the fans kick in to high gear and everyone is able to hear. haha. I have noticed the #4 fan seems to rattle a bit so I may end up replacing it as well. I can handle a replacing a few things here and there. It is a used server after all.

Another thing I ended up doing. I added a spare SATA laptop drive I had as a sort of backup drive and for running extra vms the main drives couldn’t hold and for speed reasons. I just screwed it into the now spare drive caddy that the bad drive wasn’t using anymore. I also ordered a pair of 600GB SAS drives with caddies for more VM space and that should be here somewhere around tuesday to thursday of next week.

I am going to try to use the knowledge from ITPRO.TV to pratice in somewhat of a real world enviroment. Albeit, mostly virtualized here at the house but configured how I want it. I even had a crazy idea to attach a real desktop to the AD Domain but booting a VM or even my desktop from the Physical LAN seems to give me a error once windows setup boots. Not sure why, I haven’t google’d a solution yet.

Some pictures:

Server-Front Server-Top Server-Rear

I Bought a Real Server

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So yesterday I bought a server, like an actual server capable of being installed in a rack. A Dell Poweredge R710 with dual Intel Xeon E5640 cpus, 24GB RAM, 2x 146gb 10k HDDs. It has upgrade potentials in all those areas but that’s at a later date.

The idea for this is for me to get my hands on a cheap server to get a real world sense of what’s inside, to see how it goes together, and play with random software. It will become a virtual lab server. I’ll boot it up occasionally to run whatever software I’m looking at at the time during my free time. I want to play with enterprise grade software within a virtual world. I figured this would be cheaper than just getting a few optiplexes and toss some OS them and set up a simple network. Just one optiplex was going for about or a bit more than just this one server and wouldn’t be powerful enough do a lab themselves. I need to be able to run 3 or 4 VMs with several GBs of ram each and my current computers just can’t cope with that.

First, I want to play with some bare metal hypervisors. Just to poke about the interface and likely will settle on ESXI and from there, install one or two windows servers (maybe look at the different versions I’d expect to see in the real world) and a client box or two and whatever else I might need to run.

My current computers are just a couple quad cores with 8gb of ram each and are configured just how I want them. They can and do run VMs, just small ones though. My desktop might have 2 or 3 at the most and that’ll occupy more than half of the ram. The other desktop, my file server, runs a few small linux VMs for various reasons.

Considering I can pick up a decent used computer for under $200, I figure, why not. It’s something to learn on. Maybe I’ll blog about it.

And the purpose of it all, to practice for my comptia network+ and server+ certs. The virtual networking within the VMs probably won’t help but it’ll give a general idea.

A Shameless Plug for

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A few days ago, I joined a website that teaches IT related stuff. It has videos and virtual labs for all kinds of things. I’m using it for Network+ and while some of it kinda puts me to sleep, it’s educational. They have a coupon right now for 30% off for the lifetime of your account. I picked the standard account for like $40/mo with the coupon.

I Hate Web Design

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I hate Web Design, it’s time consuming and exhausting trying to find what broke, where it broke, and how to fix it. I can sit here and chase a problem all day and still not accomplish anything. It’s so annoying. Is it just me or does it effect many or all new developers? If I try to study code, I fall asleep or become incredibly lost.

I just want to throw up some functioning code and modify it a little to add my own text. The templates are there, why not use them. This blog, powered by Octopress, is fantastic but heavy on javascript and loads of CSS makes it kinda chunky for what it is. Right now, I am writing in a text file that is written in a certain format that Octopress takes and spits it out into a html file, complete with the template layout. It makes it easy to make plain HTML pages.

My problem comes in when something doesn’t quite work out right and I’m left spending hours troubleshooting and trying to find what’s wrong. Things aren’t always verbose enough for me to understand the problem, sometimes, I don’t get an error. It just simply fails and that’s anything computer related.

People elsewhere seem to make it look easy or maybe I’m stressing out over nothing and everyone faces the same problem. I don’t know. All I know is when crap doesn’t work, I get frustrated and something might end up deleted or broken even further. sigh

Home Server on a Budget

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Step 1: Obtain the fastest, yet cheapest, computer you can find.
Step 2: Load your server software.
Step 3: Config software.
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit!

Nah I’m just messing with you…

Host a Website for Free (Almost)

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So, you wanna host a website, eh? Well, it’s really not that difficult. It just sounds that way from a non-technical prospective. No worries, I’ll try to explain it. I’ll explain my method and perhaps offer up a “easier” route.

My method consists of 3 seperate, independant hosts.

  • Domain Host
  • DNS Host
  • Web Host

A Review: LG Destiny

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A bit of History

I bought a new phone and I like it. I’m moving into the android market where previously, my only android experience has been from a underpowered Kindle Fire 2nd-Gen. Then just a few months ago, I nabbed a neat little LG Optimus Fuel to handle work related tasks like check emails and do normal tasks one does with a smart phone. It does ok if you keep things simple.

For years I’ve been happy with my trusty old java powered LG 500G with it’s hardware QWERTY keyboard and basic phone + text abilities with a few smart phone abilities like note taking and a basic web browser that’d crash if the page was too big, assuming it loaded in the first place. LOL.

Anyway, onto the Review!