Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Day Another DL

I finally pulled the trigger and purchased my 4th HP DL360 Proliant Server for my brother-in-laws growing IT system. This new sever will be used as an email server running SME Server 7.4. I guess it is the nerd in me but I am always amazed at how much technology you can purchase for so little if you are willing to shop around.

The latest server specs are:

HP DL360 G3
Dual Xeon 2.8 GHz processors
Dual 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI Drives
Dual Power Supplies
Dual 1 GB Ethernet
HP 5i on board RAID Controller
HP iLo management
2 GB of RAM
CD-ROM and Floppy Drive
On board Video and Legacy Ports

And how much for all of this technology? A hefty $99 USD on eBay. The last DL360 I pickup I was able to purchase for $51 USD!

What is truly funny is replacement rack rails end up cosing 40% of the total cost of the server!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vector Linux

I have spent the last few weeks evaluating different distros I can use as an OS on my brother-in-law's administration terminal server. I tried a net install of Debian 5.0 but in the end it required way too much tweaking to get what I was after. Debian with LXDE was very speedy and would have done the job but for some reason I was really having difficulties making OpenSSH and VNC work in harmony. VNC is must because I must administer several applications that use a web interfaces.

I did a search on DistroWatch under the category of old computers and it come up with about 20 recommendations. The usual suspects came up; Puppy, DSL, Slitaz, Tiny-Core. The rest fell into two broad categories, the first being Ubuntu based distros using lightweight window managers. The second group were based on Slackware. I have a soft spot in my heart for Slackware. Wolvix was the first distro I could get my wireless card at the time (three years ago) working properly. Because of this Wolvix paved the way towards full time Linux usage breaking my Windows fix. I haven't looked back. 

Absolute, AUSTRUMI, SaxenOS and Vector were the Slackware based distros that caught my eye. A quick review narrowed my interest to Absolute or Vector. I decided to install Vector on a 700mhz test machine with 512meg of RAM because they had just released their 6.0 Lite Version. 

I remember trying Vector early on in my Linux trials and thinking how intimated I was by the installer. I definitely did not get that warm comfy feeling I got when I installed Ubuntu! This time was totally different. I guess after a few Arch Installs my confidence level has raised a few notches (LFS users I bow - I am still intimidated!)

After the install I was greeted with a very usable system even on the 700mhz test rig. I was able to configure OpenSSH and VNC without any major issues. At boot, running JWM as the window managers, I was using only 50meg of RAM and CPU utilization was in single digits. I am very impressed with Vector so far!