Titania File Server Case Upgrade

The boot drive for Titania, my Linux file server, suffered the “click of death” and stopped working after a system reboot four months ago. The drive that died was a seven-year-old Quantum 6.4GB ATA66 hard drive that ran 24/7 since the day I bought it. The replacement drive was an eight-year-old Quantum 2.1GB ATA66 hard drive that sat in the junk box for the last few years. I’ll have to replace that drive soon before it fails. Unlike the two Seagate 80GB ATA100 hard drives in a RAID-1 configuration that stores my data, the Quantum drives are out of warranty. When upgrading a computer, it’s never thing that gets replace but a whole bunch of things at the same time.

I’ve decided it was time to switch out the old tower case with the Codegen BRIZA-63-CA mid-tower case, replace the 3Dfx Banshee 16MB video card with a Nvidia Geforce MX4000 64MB video card, add another Promise Ultra100TX controller card to run each RAID drive off a separate controller, a Samsung 40GB ATA133 hard drive to replace the boot drive, and upgrade the operating system to OpenSuSE Linux 10.

Took six hours to switch out the hardware, two hours to get Linux installed and configured, and 48 hours for stability testing. The hard part was disassembling all the hardware from the old case (a Pentium 60MHz file server from my father’s last employer that became his first computer in retirement in lieu of a gold watch), and figuring out what goes into the new case or gets tossed into the junk box.

Setting up the new case was pretty straight forward. The power supply and blue LED 80mm fan that came with the case got replaced with a Rosewill 400W power supply and a non-lighted 80mm fan that I have. The ECS K7S5A motherboard, AMD Athlon 1GHz (Thunderbird) CPU, and 256MB PC-2100 DDR memory stick went in next. I then installed the video card, gigabit network card, the USB2 adapter card, and the two controller cards. That left one PCI slot for installing a third controller card. Each of the Seagate drives attached to an individual controller card. The Samsung hard drive and Samsung CD-R drive attached to the motherboard controller. The venerable floppy drive ended up in the junk box.

The newly rebuilt computer runs quieter and cooler now. Although I only needed 4GB on the boot drive for the operating system, I’m using the extra space on the Samsung drive to store a month of backup files for my Windows desktop and laptop computers to free up space on the RAID. (The backup files are also stored on DVDs in a fireproof box.) My next upgrade within six months will be converting the 80GB RAID-1 to a 160GB RAID-5 with an additional Seagate drive and a controller card. I could expand up to a 400GB RAID-5 configuration using six Seagate 80GB drives or replace the existing drives with larger drives (i.e., 6 x 500GB = 2.5TB for RAID-5), if I have the money. It’ll be a long time before this machine has another major overhaul.

MacWorld Expo 2006

My friend and I took Caltrain up to San Francisco to see the exhibit floor for the Macworld Expo at the Moscone Center. This was my first visit to the convention center. When I worked in construction with my father in the late 1980’s, we marveled at the huge hole in the ground that would later become Moscone North underground and the Yerba Buena Gardens on top that opened in 1993. With the expo spread out between the north and south halls, my friend and I did a lot of walking to see everything in eight hours.

Here are my impressions from the expo.

  • I loved Apple’s new banner slogan: “What’s an Intel chip doing in a Mac? A whole lot more than it’s ever done in a PC.”
  • I’m disappointed that Apple didn’t announce a Mac Mini with the new Intel dual-core CPU and/or a Mac laptop with an Intel CPU.
  • Would have loved to see a booth for the professional certifications to get more information and talk to some people.
  • Unreal Tournament 2004, a game that my friend and I both tested on the PC when we worked at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple identity crisis), looked better on a Mac than a PC.
  • I was very intrigued by Project X project management software that I might want to get later.
  • Picked up a copy of Disk Warrior even though I don’t have a Mac yet.
  • Picked up a signed copy of “Mac OS X Tiger Edition: The Missing Manual” by David Pogue.

We collapsed exhausted on the train back to San Jose, loaded down with two plastic bags of magazines and freebies.