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 Post subject: My server(s)...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:15 pm
Posts: 95
Location: Los Angeles, California
I had been wanting to put together a server from "server quality" components, which for me meant SCSI drives, ECC ram, stuff with generally lengthy/good warranties. Being an SPCR fan of course, it had to be quiet because after all, it's in my home office not some colocation facility. Here's what I decided on:

- ASUS P5M2/SAS
- Intel Xeon X3220
- SeaSonic S12 II SS-380GB
- 4 x 1GB Kingston ECC DDR2 667
- 2 x Fujitsu 2.5" SAS hard drive 73GB 10k rpm in a mirror
- Antec Solo
- Ninja
- DVD/CD-RW & floppy

The ninja is fanless but I used the Ninja's box to create a duct to the Solo's TriCool fan. I placed a 92mm Nexus in front of the two suspended drives. In the context of these forums, I'm quite satisfied with the server's noise. Sure it's not "SPCR-silent"(tm) but I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet the suspended 2.5" SAS drives are. I don't have the fancy equipment but I hope someone at SPCR measures the sound of those enterprise 2.5" SCSI or SAS 10k drives, comparing noise, watts and performance against a 3.5" 10k raptor.

I temporarily used a monitor, keyboard and mouse to install Xen. After burning a CD with Xen 4.01's ISO (free edition), Xen's setup recognized my motherboard's components, most importantly the integraded SAS RAID. Guess I didn't need to buy a floppy drive after all :)

Once Xen was installed, I started installing my virtual servers, which Xen refers to as guests. Using the XenCenter console (installed on my workstation from the same CD I burned), I installed Windows SBS 2003 R2 as domain controller, Windows server 2003 Standard R2 as terminal / application server, and Ubuntu 7.04 server edition for me to play around with LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). At any time, you can select how much RAM and virtual CPUs to give to each guest OS. For example, once I was done installing and tweaking the domain controller to my liking, I reduced its RAM to 768MB and only assigned it one virtual CPU core. That's probably enough, but the point is it's easy to experiment with configurations, without opening the case, no harm done.

The fact is most servers tend to be idle or at low load (<15%) most of the time. Server consolidation via virtualization means my two Windows and Ubuntu servers are altogether using 93 watts according to my Kill-A-Watt. And that's something most watt-conscious SPCRer should appreciate.

Thierry


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:16 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:57 pm
Posts: 312
Location: Minnesota
Very nice, especially the power usage.

The xen stuff is cool as heck, we been playing with that at work some.

How is the performance hit/responsiveness for you on that setup? Do you stress it much, or is it "bored" most of the time? :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:15 pm
Posts: 95
Location: Los Angeles, California
Thank you.

Indeed, virtualization is very neat when it comes to consolidating servers which are, as you put it, mostly bored. And that's the case with my servers. For a low number of users, domain controllers and terminal servers don't do much.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:24 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:44 pm
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Location: San Jose, CA
nice sounding setup there.

I run scsi drives too (4 of them across 2 boxes now).

My major question is with cooling the HDs. did you have to do any special fan arrangements to keep the drives reasonably cool? the 10krpm stuff requires some kind of active cooling or you windup with a $500 doorstop.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:15 pm
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Location: Los Angeles, California
Kittle, right in front of the hard drive bay, the Antec SOLO has an inner door onto which up to two 92mm fans can be attached, just as shown in this picture of this SPCR post by EcoTanker.

Are your drives 2.5" or 3.5"? As much as I love the 2.5's small noise footprint, I have not found a hot-swap SAS case, like those in HP Proliant ML350 G5 (which has the option of using 2.5" drives as well)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:12 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:50 pm
Posts: 680
Location: Sydney, Australia
Looking forward to the pictures :wink:

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Main PC: Antec SLK 3000B, Fortron Bluestorm 400w, Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L, Intel e7300, Kingston 2x2Gb Value DDR2, OCZ Vertex 2 60Gb, 320Gb 7200.10, 750Gb Samsung. Silencing/Cooling mods= Glacialtech 120mm front fan, rear Tri-cool on low, CPU HSF = std @ 850rpm :D
WHS: Antec LS-100, GA-MA74GM-S2H, LE-1250, 2x2Gb XMS DDR2, 7Tb
HTPC: Antec NSK2480B, MA78GPM-DS2H & Athlon 64 X2 4850e


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:01 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA
I see now -- thanks.

I use a supermicro SC742 case - totally different layout than the antec boxes. It has 2 92mm fans that will try and cool up to 7 HDDs (both are 3.5" 10krpm maxtor drives drives).

My case has no hotswap in it - but you can get it with scsi, sas or sata backplanes -- unfortunately they are all 3.5" bays.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:15 pm
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Location: Los Angeles, California
Here are some pictures of my headless Xen server:

Image

Doesn't it fit quite nicely where my blender used to be? Yes, it's in my kitchen... And yes, my kitchen has a network plug...

Image

Image

I tried to show a lot in one picture, so excuse the mess and let me explain a few things:

- This screenshot comes from my workstation where the XenCenter is installed (that's the graphical admin console for the Xen server)
- For those who've followed my previous post, I replaced Ubuntu 7.04 with CentOS 5.0 since Xen provided a template which made it a lot easier to configure correctly.
- On the bottom left, you can see the undocked, shrunk console of a Windows server.
- On the top left, you see me remoting to my CentOS server via VNC. Similarly, I could have MSTSC'ed in either Windows server, in addition to viewing them in Xen.
- In the top right, the XenCenter console, connected to and from which I control my "xenserver" shows the last 15 minutes' performance. During those 15 minutes, to make things a little interesting, one server was booted, part of the reason for the spike in memory + CPU usage, and another shut down a few minutes later, freeing up some memory.

Image

This is what XenCenter typically looks like full screen. At that moment, only one of my virtual servers is running, showing its 1024x768 console.

On the left, you see a list of all the default templates. The SUSE Linux's name has "v10 SP1" cut off, for those interested). Note that the 2 Debians contain a full image of the virtual machines so they're ready to go, just right-click and select "New VM". All the others are bare templates and you'll need to provide the files to setup the OS, whether an iso's CD or DVD, or a network connection to either an http, ftp or rsync.

I would never have guessed I would be slowed down by having just one CD/DVD player on my server! That's the reason you see the FileZilla icon. Now that my workstation runs a local FTP server, I can set up new VMs much faster, even simultaneously, without getting up from my chair and having to change CDs. From virtualization to vegetation, Homer Simpson would be proud...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:14 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:03 am
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The solo rules


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 4:14 pm
Posts: 219
Location: Forkbomb, New South Wales
I'm kind of surprised that you needed SCSI drives for your host system, given the load you described. Did you already have them sitting around?

I wouldn't think you'd need that kind of performance unless you were serving a couple of hundred simultaneous requests at once.

P.S. One more vote for virtualization here- I've reduced 3 boxes into one at home, and cut my power bill (in the land of cheap hydropower) by 12% a month.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 5:45 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:54 pm
Posts: 273
Very nice server. Just curios how does XenCenter compare to VMware.
Thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 12:11 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:44 pm
Posts: 336
Location: San Jose, CA
fri2219 wrote:
I'm kind of surprised that you needed SCSI drives for your host system, given the load you described. Did you already have them sitting around?

I wouldn't think you'd need that kind of performance unless you were serving a couple of hundred simultaneous requests at once.


I found that once i switched to scsi, it was VERY hard to go back because of the performance increase i see over IDE and SATA drives. 4ms access time and the associated responsiveness spoils a guy real fast.

The XenCenter stuff looks quite nifty. I just wish the free version supported more than 2 cores.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:25 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:15 pm
Posts: 95
Location: Los Angeles, California
Kittle wrote:
The XenCenter stuff looks quite nifty. I just wish the free version supported more than 2 cores.

The free version of Xen (XenExpress) supports up to 2 physical processors, so I would guess 8 cores total.

elec999 wrote:
Very nice server. Just curios how does XenCenter compare to VMware

Xen competes directly with VMWare ESX: both are bare-metal installations with very similar capabilities, like live migration. Prices and summary of capacities for VMware can be found on page 5 of this PDF while those of Xen can be found at the bottom of this page You can try VMWare for a free 30-day trial or XenExpress without time limit.


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