[Box Backup] Off topic: Request for server advice

Jamie Webb boxbackup@fluffy.co.uk
Wed, 25 Oct 2006 20:42:46 +0100

On Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 04:52:04PM +0100, Chris Wilson wrote:
> * Dell PowerEdge SC440 (tower case), GBP 481
> * Dell PowerEdge SC1425 SATA (rack mount), GBP 626

We've get a few 750s, 2600s and an SC430, all running Linux perfectly.

You're cutting it fine getting Dell to ship in that timeframe though:
they take at least a week if they have to do any customisation.

> * Any unbranded desktop box, about GBP 400 at spec

Just be aware that 'server' components really are more reliable. Our
750s (in datacentres) have uptimes in years. Desktop systems are built
for price and features, not long-term stability.

> Does anyone have any thoughts about relative merits of rack mount versus desktop and tower cases, given that these 
> places may not have racks?

I don't believe that there's any advantage to rackmounting other than
manageability. Indeed, tower systems (or 4U rackmounts) may be more
reliable from a cooling perspective if they aren't kept in controlled
conditions, just because they are more spacious.

> Booting with no keyboard connected?

No 'server' system will have a problem with this, and most others have
an option to disable that check in the BIOS.

> Booting from a second hard disk if the first one fails?

Beware that the cheapest RAID options on these systems tend to be
software-based, i.e. only any good once the system's booted. The BIOS
may or may not be able to switch to the second disk (assuming you've
manually duplicated MBRs and boot partitions on both disks), depending
on the nature of the failure.

If you get hardware RAID you should be fine.

> Working in hot climates with dodgy electricity?

A UPS is essential. You can probably get away with a model with a
smallish battery if you're more concerned with keeping the system
intact than online.

However, bizarrely, IIRC we couldn't find a BIOS setting to make the
SC430 switch back on automatically after a power cut...

-- Jamie Webb