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Server Blog

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:26 pm
by asavage
This is the thread for server news.

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:29 pm
by asavage
There was significant damage done to the forum database on Saturday, and I've spent much of the weekend trying to recover it.

Posts made on Saturday, 05Feb2011, are likely gone, and any ones that aren't may have incorrect Titles or even be in the wrong forum. If anybody sees something amiss, please let me know.


I did, finally, get a backup server set up that can take on the task of saying, "Site is temporarily down". I can turn it on when I am at home and am working on the main server. That is probably the best I can do. At this hobbiest level, I don't have the resources for failover to backup server automatically.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:44 pm
by Nissan_Ranger
Ouch! This forum has been like a hair shirt for you lately. I hope it doesn't give any more trouble for a bit...



Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:27 pm
by asavage
The forum software really only gives me trouble three or four times a year. However, this database corruption seems to be a byproduct of the recent drives upgrades. Switching from legacy SCSI to legacy IDE talking to modern IDE seems to have introduced some flakiness. I've turned the bus speed way down, and am spot-checking every day.

Eventually, we get newer hardware, and new problems too!

Server will be down

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:32 pm
by asavage
I am moving to north of Denver from the Seattle area. The plan is to be there about six months. I had a plan to put a backup server at a friend's house while we are staying at a Denver hotel for two-four weeks and looking to lease a home there, but this does not look like I will have enough time to accomplish that.

It's very unlikely that I can host a server from a hotel room.

Therefore, it's likely that this forum will be offline, beginning Wed, 25Apr2012 sometime, until I have DSL at a leased home To Be Determined. Could be 2.5 weeks, might be longer. I'm sorry about this, but that's the breaks of hosting your own hardware on an obscure platform. If I had another week and a spare old large IDE HDD, I could make it almost seamless but as it is, I just don't have the time to set up a backup server.

So, plan on this site being down for a few weeks, beginning next week.

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:26 pm
by Nissan_Ranger
No problem, Al... You do what you gotta do and that's all there's to it. I hope your move and all goes well. See you on the flipside:-)



Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:56 am
by dn29626
Thanks for the heads-up.

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:37 pm
by asavage
I may have a work-around, if I can get it implemented tomorrow in testing.

I can clone the server's data and take the clone, plus backup server hardware with me. I can leave the server chuckling here alone on its UPS.

I have an APC AP9225 MasterSwitch Plus remote-access power control center whose AP9606 SmartCard I could never get to work. But I bought a AP9617 SmartCard to replace that, and tomorrow I have the whole day to do whatever I'm going to do with all this before I leave.

If I can get the MasterSwitch working, and remote access configured, I can leave it all running and use the MasterSwitch to power-cycle the server when trouble happens. That won't let me actually fix anything if something breaks, but it will allow reboots from afar.

Hopefully, I can keep it running long enough to configure a server at the Denver end, then copy any data that's changed during the travel/setup, and redirect the DNS to the new server.

If the old server can be coaxed to run unattended for a few weeks, that will allow me to keep it all up whilst moving about.

Departments with larger budgets than mine have redundant systems in place for this kind of thing. As I run all this as a hobby out of my own house, I don't ;)

Anyway, I'll know more tomorrow night, if that's the way I'll proceed.


I've been trying to get the new server configured, but after about 50 hours of work it still wasn't stable enough to even begin loading the Apache/2 software, so I abandoned it about a month ago. The old server is a clone I built a decade ago, and from a hardware perspective it's very old. The HDD is only a year old, but I've had numerous hardware-related failures and one serious repeatable software failure that I can't gracefully fix without loading a newer version of the OS. That newer version is not loading well on the newer hardware I chose for the replacement server, and so it's all been on a "status quo" level for the past year. I can only throw so much time & money at this as a hobby.

At any rate, I'll take all the puzzle pieces with me to continue to work on the problem, but no guarantees as to if/when positive change will occur.

All data is backed up nightly, at least through tomorrow night.

Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:53 pm
by asavage
Update for 11Aug2012:

The old server has been chuckling away in an empty room in our house in Duvall, Wash. just fine for the last three months. I've had to reboot it remotely once, which is a very good sign. And if I hadn't been doing a whole bunch of MySQL database work with it, it probably would have run unattended a lot longer.

The new server (here in Denver) hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention from me, other than to finally figure out the major reason why it was so flaky: the APIC driver needs to have HyperThreading turned OFF in the BIOS. Once I figured that out, stability has been great.

Unfortunately, the newer version of Apache is installed but won't start, and I have stalled at that point. I need to do a couple more hours of Googling to figure that one out.

Then, I have to get the newer MySQL and php installed.

Add Rsync, and then I can load the newer phpBB forum software, and try (again) to buy a developer to recode the Gotopost add-on to work with v3.x of phpBB.

If anyone knows of a reputable phpBB MOD developer who'd like work, please email me. I find it incredible that I haven't been able to find a MOD developer, much less one that will work for money.

In the end, I may have to write it myself, but I have so little time that I may just copy this version of phpBB over to the new server and call it good enough.

The newer version of phpBB has four years of fixes & enhancements, including the ability to allow my server to easily host attachments, something we all want. Unfortunately, the Gotopost add-on I installed in our version, and which I make extensive use of, has no counterpart in the newer phpBB version. At my experience level with php, it will take me a man-week to write my own code, time I don't have.


On the hardware front, the new server got a CPU upgrade that actually works, and it's been running as a server here in Denver (just for my house) just fine at 100% CPU load (using dnet client) for weeks without a hiccup. I have to yank the mobo and mod its baseplate to accommodate a better CPU cooler -- I documented doing that modification to another, identical box over in the HP forums: DC7100CMT upgrade HSF to Zalman CNPS9900. While I stated there that I wouldn't do it again, I guess I will ;)

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:05 pm
by asavage
I'm jumping ship from Frontier DSL, and going to Wave Broadband cable, probably tomorrow morning (03Jan2012).

The server will be offline while I reconfigure the internal network.

I've had DSL continuously since 1997, and I'm unfamiliar with issues surrounding cable broadband. As such, I'll probably need most of the day to make it all work. Please be patient while I curse the hardware and support techs.

The reason I'm dumping DSL is the price/performance differential between DSL and cable has gotten too high to ignore.

DSL: Frontier wants $60/mo. for 15/2 service, $50 install
Cable: Wave wants $50/mo. for 30/3, $20 install

Frontier inherited us when Verizon sold off their land-line business a couple of years ago. The 7Mb/768 service from them has been pretty stable, but they can't get us above 15Mb download and even that tier is more expensive than cable at 30.

Our upload speed here has not been great, but "good enough" for the light usage the forum requires. The new service may improve image load times. No guarantees, though: I've become accustomed to being screwed by technology.

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:12 pm
by dn29626
Thank you for the advance notice.

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:54 pm
by asavage
Well, I didn't make it to cut-over today.

The cable broadband install went reasonably well. That is, the installer was accommodating to my request that we not run a mile of RG6 on the outside of the house, just to get from the interface box on one end of the garage to the satellite junction 200' away. He ran only 60' of Rg6 external, and all of that on the back of the house where it's not as unsightly, then fed it to the crawl space and ran the rest of the way underneath in the crawl space, splicing to an existing run I'd put in last year in the server room, thinking I was going to want a TV in there.

The Surfboard SB6121 it lit up light a Christmas tree, and my VAIO connected to it shows 31/3 at, so I'm stoked.

However, we didn't get the mail login credentials today, which means that if I moved the server over, the forum's ability to email folks wouldn't work -- we went through that twice in the past three years (Qwest->Verizon->Frontier), and I don't want that to happen again.

Tomorrow I hope to get those credentials, and then I'll get the router set correctly and plug the SMTP login creds into the forum software, and we should be up again.

IOW, we still have some downtime ahead.

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:01 am
by dn29626
Good to know it is working out.

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:35 am
by plenzen
Thanks for all the work and keepin it alive Al

Appreciate it


Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:16 am
by asavage
The good news is that we're on the cable broadband network now.

The bad news is that email does not work.

I'll battle it when I've had some sleep, but right now no Topic Notifications will go out, and nobody can email anybody else via this forum. I hope to fix it later today.

Oh, and if you post in any topic (such as this one) that anyone has set to have a Topic Notification email sent out when someone posts, you'll all see a Debug screen with SMTP info on it. Your post posted, don't post it again (like I did).

And everyone will probably have to delete their cookie when this is all over, to get the orange "unread" flags to work right.