For sale: NEC Express dual-Xeon server with 288GB RAID

Hi folks. I bought this server on eBay a couple of months ago and have decided it doesn't fit my purpose. It's an amazing piece of hardware, but it's as noisy as a jet engine and is a bit finnicky about the PCI devices you plug into it. As I want it to be a MythTV server, that's a bit of a showstopper.

It's a great piece of kit: dual 1.4 gig PIII Xeons, 2 gigs of registered RAM, 288GB of RAIDed SCSI drives (AcceleRAID 352 uses DAC960 module), dual NICs, dual redundant PSU. All the high-end server stuff you'd expect. It would make an amazing application or file server, provided you don't want to plug any extra PCI devices in.

I paid $340 for it and would be happy to see it go to someone reading this blog for that, losing the freight I can chalk up to experience. Provided you pick it up from St Peters, Sydney and pay cash. Other arrangements can be made by contacting me.

I'll give it until the end of the week before putting it up on eBay again, so get in touch if you're interested. I can get you more detailed specs and photos if that helps, and this is a starting point..

ADSL on at last

Just got this message from my ISP: Provisioned: DSL Service is fully provisioned!

Very nice, but due to Telstra fuckwittedness I can't get the lovely ADSL2+ speeds I wanted. Also still waiting on the ADSL modem to arrive before I can ditch the appallingly bad Unwired service.

Server hassles

So over the weekend I started to work on getting my server running. This is an NEC system I bought off eBay, dual-Xeon, 2 gigs RAM and a big fat RAID array.

It doesn't seem to cope with me plugging in a PCI USB 2.0 card. Just fails to boot and gives an obscure error beep code indicating, according to the user guide, FRB failure: Contact your sales representative to replace the processor or system board.. Useful!

What's more, it seems that booting to use the DAC960 module for the RAID controller requires some obscure stuff. I've tried with Ubuntu, no joy. There also seems to have been a bug in Debian, though when I get home tonight I'll try some more options I've discovered.

So no movement on the server just now. The PCI problem is going to be a real pain, as it could also indicate I won't be able to use TV capture cards in it. That would really suck, though I guess I can use one of the IBM thin clients just to do the capturing, but I'd prefer a single-box solution.

Any ideas what "FRB failure" might be referring to? Googling for the acronym comes up with Federal Reserve Board, which fortunately I'm pretty sure hasn't failed.

Bugger, can't do

Just looking through the programme for and unfortunately I'm not going to make it. As a contractor it's quite expensive for me to take days off, so I was thinking a single day. Friday's programme looks great for me! Problem is, it's $300 regardless of how many days you come for. That makes it a very very expensive day.

So I think I'll come along for the Open Day which is free and I can get to by getting into work early and bunking off early.

Still, I should be able to get some info from Janet and Kim who will be staying at my place.

Those Ikea bits

The post yesterday asking about Ikea components has got me a couple of responses.

Steve Walsh says:

IIRC, they are;

threaded pin rod


rotating lock screw

Alex Hudson says:

Your Ikea part isn't; it's a standard fixing based on a
traditional dowel wood joint.

The dowel is replaced by a cam dowel, which is the upright fixing, and
it mates with the cam lock, which is the round thing.

They work best where the cam lock has sharp teeth and the hole is
tight on the lock, that's the only way the joint stays tight. A
traditional dowel joint is usually stronger, and you can replace
dowels relatively straightforwardly - a cam lock becomes looser over
time, and you can't replace them to tighten them.

Thanks for the responses folks! Most interesting

So it seems the term for this type of fastener is "cam and dowel", though this leads me to think perhaps they are also known as "knock-down fasteners".

Ikea 112996 110630

What is this Ikea component called?

I'm trying to work out what component 110630 and 112996 are called from Ikea furniture. I'm quite impressed with the utility of these devices: they allow you to align items at right-angles in a precision way, with only casual alignment to start with. Really cool pieces of hardware and I want to find out more about them. They're not just used in Ikea, I've seen them in Argos flat-pack furniture too.

So what are they called? Let me know.

In searching for an answer, someone pointed me at the Ikea Hacker blog. Very cool!

Ikea 112996 110630

Damn my amazing PageRank

As I've mentioned before, Google just loves my web site. My PageRank is five but it seems to really really love anything I post up. For example, I'm currently hit number five for "Rimming Sugar". Erm.

Anyway, my Smugmug account has gone apeshit this month. 13 gigs of transferred photos. Seems that Google has found my site and, because I put good keywords on it, comes up with my photos. For example, I'm on page two for image searches for "belfast" right now.

To counter this, I've turned off external linking on my Ireland 2005 gallery, which is the worst offender at 7 gigs. Not something I like to do, as it breaks the concept of the web, but someone must be linking my photos from a popular MySpace or web forum or something. If it's gonna cost me money, tough shit.

Page Rank Icon

Server arrived

The server I bought on eBay for $360 arrived last night. Dual 1.4G Xeon, 2 gigs RAM and 290 gigs RAID disks. Very nice!

It's kinda reminiscent of a jet engine, though. I think I'll have to work out some kind of rack unit with baffles or something, to not restrict airflow but deaden the noise somewhat. It's going in a spare corner of the house anyway, but I still don't want quite that much noise around the house.

I'm planning to install Xen on it and run both my MythTV server and an LTSP server for a thin-client workstation I own.

MythTV rocks!

I hadn't actually installed MythTV and played with it before. I just installed it on my laptop.

Wow, this has to be one of the slickest free software projects I've seen yet! Installing from the Ubuntu packages was near idiot-proof, though it helps I already had my TV tuner going (which involved sticking a firmware file in an appropriate location).

Once installed and running, it Just Works. Everything is extremely polished, and you can tell it would work well with just a remote to control it.

Can't wait to get my server going and recording stuff! I think the GAF on this will be pretty high.

Microsoft strikes a blow against DRM

Microsoft have come out as unlikely allies in the fight against DRM. It seems they're helping to educate consumers on why DRM sucks. Their new player won't work with product bought under their "Plays For Sure" DRM-promoting scheme.

If the record companies were smart, and we all know they're pigshit thick, they'd insist Microsoft provide consumers with an upgrade path, at least just this once. Then their DRM might be more palatable. Of course, they're still basking in the afterglow of all the cash they made when everyone replaced their collections in the vinyl-to-CD upgrade cycle. They think with this DRM stuff they can do that every couple of years.