A New Home for SunHELP

Posted by Bill Bradford on Jun 15, 2004

I like to upgrade the machine that runs SunHELP every couple of years. As Sun hardware gets cheaper, I can provide more services and have a faster site.

Back in January, I got a great deal on a Sun Enterprise 3000 with six 336Mhz CPUs and 3G of RAM from John Butler and the folks at AnySystem. This new machine was a welcome replacement for our existing server, and let me run more things “behind the scenes” to improve performance of the SunHELP sites and mailing lists.

Earlier this month, I had some developments that required replacing the E3K with something phyiscally smaller. For one, I had already popped the circuit breaker for the colocation cabinet it was in, and second, the machine takes up a third of a rack just by itself. The search was on for a new machine that would give me performance as good as the E3K, without all of the power and rack usage.

The only Sun machines I had that fit the space criteria were some older Ultra 5s, so it looked for a while as if I was going to move everything over to Solaris x86 running on older hardware. One site reader saw my inquiry and offered to buy the machine of my choice off eBay. I was floored by his offer, and was very grateful as all of this happened when I could not afford to put down the money for used servers at the time. In the end, instead of buying off eBay, he had two machines built and sent to me – a 700Mhz Athlon and a 700Mhz Pentium III, both decently configured and in rackmount cases.

However, at the very last minute, Tom Haug with Meridian Leasing came through and kept SunHELP running on SPARC. Tom offered, and rushed to me via FedEx, a fully-loaded Sun Enterprise 420 with four 450Mhz CPUs, 4G of RAM, dual power supplies, and two 18G hard drives.

This server from Meridian Leasing went into service the night of Thursday the 4th of June, which is why the site and all of the other services I provide were down from around 10:30pm till after 1am that evening. I took pictures of the process of uninstalling the E3K, moving its shelf, and installing the E420.

With Hichael’s approval, I’m now using one of the x86 machines as an IDS/firewall, and the other as a remote backup system (using rsnapshot) so that I won’t have to continue colocating a DLT tape drive along with the servers in that rack.

So, in summary, I’d like to give a very big THANK YOU out to the following people and companies; give them your business if possible:

– Tom Haug and Meridian Leasing for their amazing donation of a Sun E420R, and their continuing support of SunHELP for the past few years.
– John Butler and AnySystem for a great deal on the prior E3K server
– Hichael Morton for his donation of two x86 rackmount servers
OnRamp Access here in Austin, Texas, for continuing to provide colocation space and bandwidth since 1999

2 responses to “A New Home for SunHELP”

  1. Chris Morgan says:

    I’m a newcomer to sunhelp, however I really enjoy reading about the hosting issues. I run a smaller site and I’m starting to run into the growing pains between a cool little hobby and something that people notice when it’s down. I am possibly going to move the site from a PC to some Sun hardware. However, I don’t foresee ever having a box as big as the E3k!


  2. mrbill says:

    I never thought I’d have it on a system that large either!

    Here’s a list of systems that have been “ohno.mrbill.net” since I started using that hostname:

    SPARCstation Classic
    SPARCstation 5/85
    SPARCstation 5/110
    Ultra 1/140
    Ultra AXe-300
    Ultra AXi-440
    Ultra Enterprise 250
    Ultra 5-360
    Ultra Enterprise 3000
    Ultra Enterprise 420R