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The Dimensions server's death (technical)

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Chief Emeritus
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This morning the Dimensions server went down and didn't as usual, come back up. I tried to reboot it remotely, but no luck. When I got to the office, the power supply seemed okay, but no video, no boot. Now this was no ordinary machine. To get decent performance I had installed a top-of-the-line SCSI controller and ran all sites from a high-speed Cheetah drive.

My biggest fear, of course, was that the disk had gotten fried. So I installed the SCSI controller and disk in another Linux machine. It recognized the controller, but then went into an infinite RPL-ROM-FFC count. No go.

Fortunately, in anticipation of the eventual failure/demise of the main server I had built a new machine a few months ago. That one with dual 300GB serial ATA drives in a RAID arrangement, 2GB of high-speed RAM, and a special server board. Good thing I had that machine sitting on the rack.

So now it was time trying to see if the new server would get along with the SCSI controller and Cheetah disk. At first, no go. The system complained that expansion ROM in PCI slot 1 could not be initialized. I checked in the BIOS and it was enabled. I googled and found that expansion ROM is only necessary for SCSI controllers if you want to boot from them, so i turned it off. Amazingly, it now worked. The server took a long time analyzing and initiating hardware, then brought up Kudzu to configure the SCSI controller, then took a long time to set swap space, then complained about competing boot partitions, but chose the proper one.

With great anticipation I used the hardware scanner to see if the SCSI disk was recognized. It was. So I mounted it and the data was all there. Fortunately I had done a full system backup two days ago, so a full restore would get all the websites back. Sadly, I had not done a MySQL database backup for the forums in a week, and that would have meant the loss of many thousands of notes. I ran a backup on the old SCSI disk, but that yielded a file that seemed entirely too small. That's because the utility was backing up an earlier restore from the new box, from circa late-January. So I located the MySQL files and copied them over manually.

Of course Apache then wouldn't start. Apparently, the security is much tighter in Red Hat ES4 than it was under goold old RH9. So I had to change a bunch of settings before Apache even recognized the HTML root directory as a directory. Now Apache started, but I could still not bring it up from another machine. That's because, after all these years, you still need to enter a static IP address manually in more than one place.

Stunningly, everything came up, and not a bit of data was lost. At least that's what it looks like so far. I was lucky, and the whol thing was quite an ordeal. Fortunately I didn't make any major mistakes or pushed the wrong buttons.

The little machine-that-could really served us well over the past four years. It was just a little 2GHz Pentium 4 box with a generic motherboard. The only thing special about it was the memory and the Cheetah disk. Yet, it reliably ran for four years, serving over 800 simultaneous users on Dimensions and also running all of my technology sites. Not bad. It was a good machine. May it happily compute in computer heaven.

Now I feel as if I had just run a marathon. Whew.
 

Carrie

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I have no fricking idea what you just said, Conrad, but I thank you very much for the hard work you put into getting the site back up. ;):D
 

jazzdentist

Active Member
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Wow! Conrad, my head hurts just reading about your ordeal! RIP little server! Your post just reveals the tip of the iceberg of all that you do to run this amazing site. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your efforts to keep this place going! Hopefully this might encourage more folks to contribute to Dimensions and more lurkers to delurk and say hello.

Peter
 

BBWMoon

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Conrad,

Although you probably would only say that you're the Man behind the curtain,
I whole heartedly believe in the great & Powerful "Oz".

I'd bet if you had a poll on this that hundreds of people tried bringing up the site more than once today.

It was about 5 times for me.


Thank you. Small words... but the sentiment is huge.


~Allie
 

BBW Betty

Made My Saving Throw
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Conrad,

It was all nearly Greek to me, but I am so thankful for your know-how and time you spend keeping this place running. And I agree with Allie, I must have tried 6 or 8 times to get on the Boards after work today.

Just thanks for all you do. :bow:

Betty
 

AnnMarie

✰cuddly and terrifying✰
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Do you think it was our 800 users the other day?? It just up and quit. Poor little guy. :(

What you wrote is all Geek to me, but I echo the thanks and admiration for the work it must have took (mentally alone!) to get us back online. :D
 

Fuzzy

Just a dirty old man
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I understood every word and I still think you are the Wizard of Oz. :)

( Can you send me home? I lost my ruby slippers. ;) )
 

herin

wait...what?
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Yeah I was wondering about that. I followed you up to the scsi. (heehee scuzzy). But thanks for getting the site back up! "You the man"!!:D
 

like em big

Active Member
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I too am grateful for you solving and keeping this forum alive. While I don't come here often, I do appreciate Dimensions and the efforts of all who help make this an enjoyable experience.
 

bigbob10000

Getting Ready To Have Fun
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And thanks for looking a head and having extra hardware.



BigBob10000
 

fatlane

Starting Arvist
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Could you provide more details, please? I love after action server crash reports. There was this time I was fixing an Exchange server that ran out of hard drive space, but didn't shut down gracefully because the last log file it tried to write caused the fault. So I gotta first get the password and --

Where'd everybody go?
 

FEast

Bountifulicious!
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Well, RIP, Little Server That Could. I must admit I felt a bit sentimental reading all that.

And I actually understood a little of the technical stuff you wrote, amazingly enough! I just had 2G of RAM put into my computer, and am floored that an entire server can run on that. I wanted to speed up my computer, but can't imagine so much running successfully on your end. I also just bought two 300G external hard drives (planning to rotate them on a monthly basis, keeping one off-premises at all times), and plan to replace my 80G internal h/d with a 300G one. But I'm just a single user, so I'm also surprised that you can run this entire site off of the same thing.

'Course, I didn't understand any of the other computerese you wrote, but am darned glad that you knew what to do. Like everybody else, I very much appreciate all that you do for us, and hope it continues for years to come.~L&H, Foosh
 

sweetnnekked

Back From The Dead.
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Perhaps if you had replaced the mixaplix with the snoogledorf and connected it to the frangipange in the first place, none of this would've ever happened!!
Thanks for all your hard work, I was wondering why I couldn't log on this A.M.!!!!!
 

swamptoad

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Quite an ordeal, indeed, Conrad! :doh: :shocked:

I am sure that many of us here feel much relieved that you prepared the MySQL database backup. I thank you so very much for everything that you do.

You are quite an intelligible, kind, highly dedicated and wonderful Webmaster.

...and you just rock, dude!

:bow:

p.s. Since I made my first step from delurking on September 29th, 2005...I have since been wanting to donate to this awesome community. I'd like to make that my next step.
 

Theatrmuse/Kara

Warrior Momma
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Wow, Greek to me, Conrad....BUT I most certainly appreciate that you managed to get things up and going again!!!!
You da best!:bow:
Hugs, Kara
 

gangstadawg

the wanderer
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Carrie said:
I have no fricking idea what you just said, Conrad, but I thank you very much for the hard work you put into getting the site back up. ;):D
i understood every word. im a computer geek. any ways goods work conrad.
 

Sandie_Zitkus

In Rememberance
In Remembrance
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Conrad,

While I understand you wanting to let us know what happened - this is how your post read to me:

technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff
technicalstucctechnicalstufftechnicalstufftechnicalstuff

You'renotsmartenoughtounderstandthisstuff,
Conrad

LOL

But thanks for trying!:D :D :D :D :D
 

Sandie_Zitkus

In Rememberance
In Remembrance
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sweetnnekked said:
Perhaps if you had replaced the mixaplix with the snoogledorf and connected it to the frangipange in the first place, none of this would've ever happened!!
Thanks for all your hard work, I was wondering why I couldn't log on this A.M.!!!!!
Don't forget the fanotnee rod and the framis pin - they are very important!:doh:
 

olivefun

Belly bellissima
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
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Webmaster said:
Now I feel as if I had just run a marathon. Whew.
The reason you felt like you had run a marathon, is because you did!

Thanks for doing all that. You see! It wasn't an under-appreciated act of love.

Thank you,

Olive
 

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