Downtime and Upgrades


For about a month this site has been down. I host this website from my home cable connection and the PC it was running on developed several hardware problems and died. No data was lost because I had/have up-to-date backups. you can never be too careful 🙂 ! So I used this opportunity to redistribute the hardware I had remaining amongst my 3 main PCs (Tyr, Thor and Loki) and retired several lesser spec’d PCs.



My Media Center was way over spec’d for my needs and so I wound up switching the motherboard/CPU/RAM/GPU with Tyr. I’m still using Windows Media Center 2005 because the rest of the family want TV and I’ve yet to have time to check out  Mythbuntu; so it’s Windows Media Center 2005 until then.


This Pentium 4 box had it’s RAM and hard drive upgraded as I’m going to use this machine as a VPS Host. I’m currently setting up OpenVZ on there, under Hardy, to consolidate the tasks several PII/PIII machines were doing, although I may try XEN.

Why OpenVZ/XEN? I know the officially supported Virtualization  software in Ubuntu is KVM, but this machine can’t run KVM (CPU is too old). I’m not bothered about using a GUI to administer an Ubuntu Server,  I can do everything I need from the commandline as all good server administration should be done.

The 4 machines I’m currently replacing are …

  1. An SSH server – To tunnel traffic securely when I’m away from home.  (OpenSSH)
  2. A Web Server – To host this site and  a secure site to hold my photo album. (nginx, mysql, PHP5)
  3. A File Server – To host the backup shares used by my wife and myself. (SAMBA)
  4. Source Control – To hold my source securely and under revision control.

I know it’s probably overkill to set each of these up as a separate VM but with 2 of them being exposed to the internet 24/7 I don’t wish to expose my personal data as well so I figured I may as well run them all as VMs. One feature of OpenVZ, which I prefer to XEN, is if I login into the Host I can easily backup the files within the VMs without having to log into each VM separately. This is because OpenVZ uses directories not hard disk files to store each VM. One simple Bash script later and cron is merrily backing up each VM.


I’ve finally got this one up and running with Jaunty. I set it up as follows …

  • 250Mb – ext2 – /boot
  • 10Gb – ext4 – /
  • 10Gb – ext4 – /home
  • 460Gb – ext4 – /media/data

I’ve used XP Pro (just to test the difference between XP and Ubuntu), Intrepid Ibex and now Jaunty Jackalope on this system. I installed each OS and timed it then I optimised each one as best I could. At best this machine takes 70 seconds to boot to a desktop (via autologin) with Intrepid and over 2 minutes to boot to a desktop (via autologin) with XP Pro SP3! However under Jaunty (RC I might add) it boots to a desktop (via autologin) in 20 seconds flat and it’s ready to use straight away, no speed tweaking required. I had to switch it off and  on 3 times, and timed it booting again each time, just to be sure I wasn’t imagining it. This is brilliant, a big, big “Thank you” to everyone who made this possible. Launching applications is lightning fast and everything just feels incredibly responsive.

It’s nearly a year since I stopped using Windows on my home PCs (Media Center excluded because that only shows/records TV and plays DVDs) and after the quick comparison I did on this machine I don’t think I’ll be needing Windows on my desktop for a long, long time (if ever).