Faintfuzzies.ca Now Has a New Server

Transferring data
Transferring data via the Dell Precision 670

Well after weeks of tinkering I’ve got a new home for Faintfuzzies.ca. This required the physical moving of various hard drives, installing my favourite flavour of Linux, Gentoo Linux. The downside of my distro of Linux is it is compile from source code. Yup ever piece of software used in this server must be compiled before it can be used. To get the most out of this distribution I needed to find out all the optimizations that could be applied via the compiling process to take full advantage of 64 bit Xeon, also known as EMT64. This is what Gentoo is all about. Now you will not get huge performance gains, but they’re enough to go to the trouble of using Gentoo.  If you want, you can find benchmarking stats on the following, linux.com , and Anantech.com.

Gentoo Linux uses a global make file and 4 other files to achieve the customized install that its users require. The global make file is called make.conf and for my web server it contains the following options:

CFLAGS=”-march=k8 -O2 -pipe”
USE=”-X crypt ctype pcre session unicode PHP apache2 mysql mysqli mmx sse sse2 acpi mmx sse3 3dnowext 3dnow ntpl ntplonly JSON curl jpeg jpeg2k png tiff hdri truetype exif bash-completion mp3 ssse3 xvid encode mmxext gd threads”

AMD Dual Opteron Tower, Old Desktop, New Web Server

The other 4 files that can be used to adjust performance or package choice (software, for you windows users) are:  package.keywords, package.use, package.mask, package.unmask.  The first file package.keywords allows me to chose software packages from the unstable development branch.  Package.use allows me to apply specific USE options to specific software packages. Here are the what is in that file.

www-servers/apache log_forensic
www-apps/gallery  mysql ffmpeg gd imagemagick netpbm raw sqlite unzip zip
dev-lang/php pcre session mysql pdo gd

IBM Intellistation Dual PIII 500
Old Web Server (IBM Intellistation Dual PIII 500)

Now this is not to be construed as a definitive list of USE Flags possible.  But based on the research that I’ve done to date is the best I could come up with that balanced performance against stability.

In order to use WordPress in Gentoo I had to use the file package.keywords. This is what is in this file:

www-apps/wordpress ~amd64
www-apps/gallery ~amd64
sci-misc/boinc ~amd64
dev-perl/JSON ~amd64

So to be web server
Dual AMD Opteron, Awaiting New Hard Drives

The old server will be retired to a good home. It was a great work horse for a long time. But I’ve had many complaints that the web site was getting slow, particularity for those people accessing the photo gallery. Initially I put this down to my Internet connection. Then I did a test mirroring the website on my desktop which at the time was the Dual Opteron. That clearly showed that the problem was not a bandwidth issue. I’m taking my old Dual AMD Opteron desktop and converting to be my new web server. Here is what it looks like as I prepare it for its new like as the web server.

Dell Precision 670 Workstation
Dell Precision 670 Workstation, My New Desktop

This upgrade was all precipitated by the arrival at my place of work Computer Supplyhouse of some Dell Precision 670.  Our store carries all the normal computer items, but also specialized in Off-Lease Government and Corporate leased computers.  We also stock a full line of  computer books.  These where in excellent condition and the price was… well, irresistible. The spec.’s on these bad boys was dual 4.3Ghz EMT64 Xeons, with 80Gb SATA-II drives and 2Gb of DDR2 ECC ram.  To this setup I’ve add a 73Gb Seagate Cheetah hard-drive used for the OS, Apache2, Gallery2, and WordPress.  The 80Gb hard-drive will house the Gallery2 photos and back-up files.

Web Server With Cooling Fan Hack
Web Server With Cooling Fan Hack

The speed difference of the new web server is quite remarkable. This change for the web server means I should be about to get many good years out of it. This is assuming no hardware failures. The one thing to keep on eye on with this computer is that it is quite heat sensitive, well at least in the last few years or so.  To mitigate this issue I had a friend of mine cut a hole in the side across from the CPUs and have added a 120mm fan.  It was added to the outside as there is no real room to mount the fan inside and still be able to side the side panel off.