Archive for the 'video server' Category

FreeNAS Idiosyncracies.

July 27, 2008

I enjoy using FreeNAS. I have three FreeNAS servers. Why would anyone need three? It’s because of the idiosyncrasies associated with using the software. For one thing, Vista doesn’t like FreeNAS very much in certain configurations and I have 3 Vista machines. For example, if you set up one of your servers in a RAID 5 configuration, Vista will read it just fine. But it won’t write to it. It won’t write to it because it thinks the disk is full. Vista can’t get an accurate reading of the disk size. So it won’t write to it at all. XP does not have this problem, thankfully. If it did, I would not be able to use FreeNAS in a RAID 5 configuration.

I overcome this idiosyncrasy by having another server set up with its disks mirrored. Vista reads disk mirrors without any trouble. All I have to do is use an XP machine to sync up the data from the disk mirrors with the main server. This way I have all my data on one machine. I use the third server to back up the main server. In a way, it seems ridiculous. However, FreeNAS servers are cheap (the software is free). Moreover on a gigabit network, data transfer is fast. You could accomplish what I do with a Drobo. However, it wouldn’t be nearly as fast. Also I’m not sure that you could stream video from a Drobo. FreeNAS servers make excellent video servers.

I started out using Rsync to keep my servers synced with each other. This quickly crashed. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it either. So, I moved to Allway Sync. This program has worked wonderfully. Of course FreeNAS wouldn’t be FreeNAS with out idiosyncrasy here as well. You have to reboot the servers more than you should. Often, after transferring gigabytes of data, the server will drop out and need to be rebooted. I haven’t lost any data and the servers are fine once you reboot them. Sometimes, with Allway Sync, sinking directionally as opposed to bidirectionally works better.

The latest FreeNAS joy has been having two of the servers spontaneously switch IP addresses. I have no idea why this happened. I thought for a moment that maybe there was some malice involved from a third party. But no. My best guess is that IP addresses opened up and that the servers rebooted and picked those. I’ve been using FreeNAS for a long time and it has never done that.

You might think that is a lot of effort to use these servers. But I can tell you that that is not so. While I have identified the above issues, they are all manageable. The servers have great up time and I can move my data around quickly.  Plus, it is awesome to have all my data in one place.  It’s like having an old car that has problems but you know what the problems are and you know how to fix them. And in the meantime the car gets you where you want to go. With all the redundancy I have with these servers, I believe my data is safer than it has ever been (knock on wood).

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Building a Quad Core Q6600 machine.

March 1, 2008

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Quad-Core Processor, 2.40 GHz, 8M L2 Cache, LGA 775
On Thursday I went to Microcenter to buy the external monitor for my damaged laptop. Microcenter was having a sale on Q6600 processors. I could not resist. The thought was that I would use the chip, memory, motherboard power supply and chip fan to build a new video server.

When I got home I realized that the video card from the old video server would not work in the new computer. So I decided to buy a fairly decent video card for the quad core machine to replace my current flagship machine. The goal has always been to have two really fast machines. I have been waiting for the new Penryn chips to come out. I figured though that I could spend a little money now and still have enough money to build an even faster flagship machine later.

Silly boy. I ended up spending way more than I wanted to.

I did however get to spend last night building a new machine. Even a casual reader of this blog knows that I enjoy building computers so yesterday was very special. This is not to say that it was easy. I had hoped to overclock it. I bought a special fan to help keep the chip cool. However, had I had a great deal of difficulty installing the fan. Ultimately I ended up using the stock fan.

While the new machine started on post, after I loaded XP I had many problems. I stayed up until past midnight but I didn’t figure out what was wrong until this morning. I traced it down to a piece of software that was causing the machine to be unstable.

That is why I enjoy building computers. You never know what types of challenges will arise I enjoy the finished product as well. For example I’m using NaturallySpeaking 9 to write this blog. The new machine runs this program faster than any machine I’ve ever used previously. That being said, the overclocked dual dual core machine I built almost two years ago is still comparable to the new machine. It is no longer 4 GHz, but even at 3.2 GHz, it’s not too shabby.

Then again I have not been able to overclock this machine because I had to use the stock cooler. I may try again at a later date to overclock it. However, right now, I don’t have time. I haven’t been playing with the new computer much today as I have been busy working.

I now also have a philosophical quandary. In my home office, I now have two powerful computers. There are two other not so powerful computers (and my daughters two computers). The quandary is this: I don’t need another computer. I realize that my hobby is not about need, it’s about want. However, even I have my limits. As I sit here today, I have no idea what I would do with two quad core machines and an overclocked dual core in addition to all my other computers. Not building another computer solves the budget problem. If I don’t build the new flagship machine I was planning on, then the current spending spree wasn’t for naught.

I could still use a laptop. Maybe I should start saving for that.