Archive for August, 2008

Building a 32 TB Server: a thought experiment.

August 31, 2008

Daniel Gimpelevich and Holden Aust built a 16 TB server for Christian Einfeld and his Digital Tipping Point Project.  See Linux Journal, Issue 173, September 2008.  I am impressed that these gentlemen built a server with four times the capacity of anything that I have ever attempted.  It’s funny because in Einfeld’s article he mentions it almost in passing.  My jaw was on the floor.  Also I think it’s cool that he’s a lawyer who is also very much into technology.  Moreover, his philanthropic efforts in San Francisco are admirable.

The server they built motivates me to try to build a 32 TB server.  There are three problems that I have not worked out.  One: fitting 16 drives in one box.  I would wait to build the server when 2 TB drives are obtainable.  I am assuming that I can find a case somewhere that will hold 16 drives.  If I can’t, I would have to have some sort of an external enclosure and run SATA cables to it.  Two: I don’t know if FreeNAS can handle 32 TB of storage.  If not, I’d have to use some other platform, but I suspect it could do it or could be made to do it.  Three: I don’t know if you can put three or four SATA cards on one motherboard.  Obviously these gentlemen figure that part out.  It must be possible, I just don’t know how to do it.  It may be as easy as plugging them in.

If I were to succeed, a RAID 5 FreeNAS server would provide 20.8 TB of usable space out of the 32 TB available.  Since you have to do backups anyway, it almost makes sense to have two raid zero 32 TB servers as you would get 27.73 TB of usable space each and faster performance.

At this point, this is just a thought experiment.  In terms of money, when the drives become available, we’re not talking about that much compared to other types of extreme computing.  For example some people will spend in excess of 14 or $15,000 buying an overclocked “ultimate” machine.  A 32 TB server would probably only cost $2-$3000 to build.

I have to admit it is exciting.  I don’t know what I would use it for.  I still have plenty of space on my 4 TB server that only has 2.6 TB of usable space.  Even with an HD TiVo and pulling HD content off of it and putting it on the server, I don’t think I would need anything close to 32 TB of space.  But it would be fun to build.

Friday Night Party Line #33.

August 30, 2008

David, Ray, Viga, Thaed and newcomer Breukelen Bell give you all they’ve got this evening.

Here are the topics:

–What dead stars do you miss and why?
–If you had a machine that would allow you to observe the daily lives of an alien race significantly more advanced than humans, what would you be most curious about in terms of problems they solved and interests that they pursue?
–Free speech for high school students?  Can kids express themselves out of school without repercussions?  Should they be able to?
–The Large Hadron Collider goes online 9/10
What do scientists hope to discover?  Why is this important?  Is there any danger.
–Should you go with your gut feeling?
–The world is now a happier place.  Agree or disagree?

Site where you can find more information about Viga:

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Direct download: FNPL_33_final.mp3

Playing with the TiVoHD and misc.

August 23, 2008

I’ve been playing with my TiVoHD. It has had a big impact on my life as it played a role in reacquainting me with old friends.

I used the TiVo desktop to move an HD recording of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to my server. I was able to watch it on my 30 inch monitor in my basement. Nice. Although my flagship machine manged this with no problem, another machine I have choked. This is very annoying. It is a 1.6 GHz dual core and it chokes on everything. It’s kind of useless. I’m not sure if it is the computer or if it is the fact that it’s running Vista. The flagship machine runs XP.

Anyhow, I like the idea of being able to watch HD shows down there. I’m not sure that it needs to be on my best computer though. I’m thinking that it might be time to build a new computer. As a stopgap, I’m using the quadcore that’s plugged into my HDTV to move the files to the server.

I am also playing with a wireless microphone and I bought a new webcam too. I’ll probably have more to say about that stuff in the future.

I feel like I needed to get some words going here, it’s been more than a little sparse lately.

Friday Night Party Line Episode 32.

August 16, 2008

David and newcomer Alex and Thaed are the hosts tonight.

Here are the topics:

–A scientist let the fire department in to put out an air conditioner and lost his home chem lab.
Should this have had a different outcome?  Why or why not?
–A 24 hour curfew in the United States?
The ACLU has threatened to sue.  Does it matter?  Is this an effective way to deal with crime and poverty?  If not, what should have happened?
–According to this article, humans are biased toward the beautiful:
Is this dampened by the internet where in theory, no one knows if you’re a dog?  Does beauty work its way into everything anyway? Should something be done about it?
–New Media Expo, SXSW, podcamps, barcamps, PAX do all of these conventions have any value?  Is social media in general overblown? Who is making money?
–Blogger lawsuits.  What should bloggers be sensitive to in order to avoid getting sued?

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Flickr Pictures of the day.

August 10, 2008

I haven’t done one of these in a while.  Here’s some pics I like.