Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Y.A.B.

Posted in Status update on March 24th, 2009 by abolte – Be the first to comment

I’ve had a number of personal websites over the years.

http://iprimus.com.au/boltronics/

http://yallara.cs.rmit.edu.au/~abolte/ (also redirected to by psychoreactor.com for a while).

http://boltronics.dyndns.org

These have all now disappeared. The first two were taken down by the hosting provider as I am no longer a customer or student. Just like non-free software, these hosts locked me into a non-flexible solution that could not last. I could have kept my iPrimus host, but that would have likely meant keeping iPrimus as my ISP. I could have kept my RMIT account, but that would have meant continuing to study there. Neither requirement was one that I was prepared to accept.

Eventually, I decided that if I wanted things done properly, I needed to do them myself. I wasn’t going to let myself be held hostage any further by hosting company terms and conditions – I can run my own darn web server on my home ADSL2+ Internet connection. That is exactly what I did when I made boltronics.dyndns.org.

All was going well for what was likely the better part of two years. Initially I was using a Sun SPARCStation 5 that was thrown out by a pharmacy my sister used to work at. It was already in use as my DNS server, DHCP server and MLDonkey bittorrent client. Having a second server in my small appartment running 24/7 just for website hosting was more than I was willing to tollerate, so I added just a couple more things – Apache, MySQL and PHP for WordPress. This was slightly more than the box could hande. The main page would take 15 seconds to load, so it would not have taken much to DOS attack. An upgrade was in order.

Enter the Pentium 166MMX, which I believe I acquired new back in the day. I was happy with this configuration for a time, as it was noticably quicker than the SPARCStation 5 (but I didn’t run any benchmarks). Soon afterwards, I hit my next requirement: Samba for my home NAS. Suddenly my 166MMX wasn’t cutting it.

I reluctantly upgraded to an AMD Athlon K7 Slot A 500MHz-processor based system that a colleague from my place of employment at the time gave me. It did the job, but holy bananas Batman was the CPU cooler noisy. Still, I put up with it. I even added a second NIC, and used it as my home Internet firewall/gateway. Using mdadm, it was running a RAID1 configuration. The /boot partition was on a 256Mb CF card thanks to a CF->IDE adapter that installed onto a back-plate, so I didn’t need to worry about potential GRUB/BIOS issues in the event of a HDD failure. Life was good… for a while.

My wife is not quite as computer savvy as myself. When something doesn’t work as expected, her general rule of thumb is to reset the problem device. It was not uncommon for her to hit the server restart button when there was actually only an issue with the modem or her desktop. One time when I was remotely performing a dist-upgrade to the latest Ubuntu release over SSH, my wife was simultaneously using bittorrent on her desktop – which used the server for DNS, routing, etc. She noticed that things weren’t working correctly for a moment (as expected when services are stopped for an upgrade) and hit the server restart button. The timing could not have been worse.

The system was left in an unusable state – half upgraded, half unconfigured. There were also filesystem errors. I couldn’t trust the installation any more, and there seemed so many problems that it was easier to simply reinstall. It was at this time that my wife wasn’t using her old desktop anymore, so I decided to use that instead – an AMD Athlon64 3000+. There are two main advantages to this newer system: firstly (and most importantly) it is trusted by my wife as a reliable system. I have convinced her by using this that the reset button should never be pressed – even when things aren’t working. The second advantage is that it has more grunt and memory, so I have been able to take advantage of OpenVZ virtual machines. This has given me a virtual DMZ, and individual machines for any services that I wish to run. The result is a more reliable and secure configuration, with a bit more management overhead. This is partly why boltronics.dyndns.org has been down for as long as it has been.

Whilst I do have backups of the old blog, I wanted something new and completely mine. If my wife wants “our” old blog back, I’ll add that at her request and link to it from here. I don’t expect that to happen though, as I believe she has lost interest.

I am hopeful that my fourth server and fourth website will be the ones that last the longest. So much so that I have registered this domain for the next 10 years.

Welcome to yet another blog. I hope you enjoy your stay.