Quick Tech Post: Raspberry Pi is a really useful platform…

I have two Raspberry Pi computers. If you’re not familiar with the brand, they are a UK based company that has created a simple computer-on-a-card model with the intent of keeping cost down to allow the teaching of computer-related subject in developing countries. The original version was released in 2012, and I got mine in 2013ish, I guess. I bought it to teach myself a bit about Linux computers and, well, because it was such a cool idea! The Pi uses SD cards for storage, although it’s a simple hack to add an external USB drive if you want. In any case, after a couple of months the original Pi was replaced by my Dell server as I wanted to run things that needed a bit more horsepower than this blog.

In fact, for several years, until last week, the original Model A ($20) plus case, sat without a mission. It’s sibling, a Model 2 B ($35, plus case) was occupied as an SSH “front door” to my network and a personal proxy server. I’ve switched things around a bit in the last couple of weeks in that I re-purposed the Model 2 into a dedicated controller for my Reprap 3d printer.

Prior to doing that, I created an image of the SD card with the intent of re-flashing the Model 1 and installing it as the front door. “With the intent” is the notion upon which to to keep an eye… I wasn’t at all sure that it would work on the original Pi and had visions of reinstalling Raspian (Debian Linux based distro for the Pi) and configuring it from scratch. Not a huge deal, but still, I though that I’d rather go with the familiar server setup if possible.

The RPi 2 installed in its new location on the printer. I’ve since added an enclosure similar to that for the electronics (on the right). The USB cords on the left are for a webcam and for the printer. There’s also a network cable and a micro USB for power into the Pi.

The switch was actually simpler than I thought it might be. Imaging the Model B was quite simple. I downloaded an image of OctoPi, the Raspberry Pi specific distribution of Octoprint printer control software. The install instructions called for using balenaEtcher package to flash it to the SD and the backup image was self explanatory. Flashing OctoPi was simple as well and I was up and running within minutes after the flash. A couple of days later, when I started to miss my front door, I flashed the old image to the SD card for the Model A and held my breath while it booted. Long story short: the hardest part of the evolution was tracking down the IP that my DHCP server assigned the new Front Door so that I could SSH into the box and switch it to the IP formerly held by the other unit. I also removed some LAMP related software as it was not being used in this application. The Model A runs noticeably faster as a result.

All lives matter. But that’s not the point.

I was commenting on a friend’s post about protests shutting down local (to him) primary roads after yet another black man was shot by police. It got me thinking and I’m reminded of Thoreau’s _Civil Disobedience_ in which he stated:
If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
In other words if the message, that “people of color are being murdered by the very government entities that are there to protect them,” is not reaching those who need to hear it, perhaps non-violent civil disobedience is appropriate.
It’s easy to say that such actions are criminal. I get it. I feel that way myself sometimes. But what we really mean by our decrying these types of social disobedience is that we were delayed. And / or inconvenienced. Or, as in most cases I’ve seen: we might have been delayed if we had been on that road and, “what if someone needed to get through like an ambulance or something?” It’s a very short trip from there to “How dare they interrupt my trip / my rights / life? Them people, thugs all of ’em, don’t know their place.”
But, what these thoughts ignore, seen as they are through the lenses of privilege, is that people of color are being murdered by those sworn to protect them. That’s the message that needs to be heard. That’s the issue that needs to be addressed. That’s the message that’s being ignored. It’s not anti-cop. It’s not anti-American. Blue lives matter. White lives matter. But these are messages that are already clear. And that’s the point.
BLM and this type of protest are not an attempt to value another life over yours, or to devalue anything, but rather to establish that these lives matter too. And they hold the same value as any other.
echo4golf clear

Repugnicans vs Libtards…

This isn’t a post about hizzoner or the lies which, even for the DC political scene are creating a new definition of the word “normal.”
But I’m not going to write about that. Really. It’s a challenge but…
We’ve been had.
Rather, I want to write something about how “Patriots” on both sides of the aisle need to stop congratulating each other and considering themselves to great Americans for clever barbs and attacks on those on the other side of the aisle. To say that this sort of elementary school behavior on the national scale is getting old doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Remember that it wasn’t just those who voted for hizzoner that got us into this mess. There was a significant percentage of Americans that didn’t vote at all (shame!). There were all sorts of “protest” votes. And then there were the non-mainstream-but-not-protest votes. This doesn’t even begin to take into account the disinformation, misinformation and bad information that was being circulated by well meaning Americans via email and social media. And it certainly doesn’t take into account the malicious hacking and propaganda campaigns both of which are still occurring and still acting very divisively.
Face it folks, if you’ve used a term like “Repuglican” or “Libtard,” you’re part of the problem. You’ve been sucked in by a system that provides fuel for your anger just like a pusher provides fuel for your addiction. You’re hooked on anger. And while you’re angry and “thinking” with your emotions, while you’re being sucked in by the propaganda and the real-fake-news that’s being promulgated by people who don’t like you and would like nothing better than to end your way of life if not your life itself, you are not acting in anybody’d best interest let alone mine. Or your own.
Until we, the people (That’s deliberate lack of caps… We don’t deserve them right now) insist that our elected officials get their act together and do business on our behalf, nothing is going to happen. Until we demand that our elected officials act in the best interests of everyone, they will act for those who help en$ure reelection. And by everyone, I mean everyone in the country: male, female, genderqueer, citizens, non-citizens, gay, straight, atheist, Catholic, Protestant Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hare Krishna, etc, etc… You get the idea. But just in case, what I *don’t* mean is that political business should continue along this particular path to a newer “normal.”
There needs to be a new normal alright, but one in which differing ideologies and party planks are addressed and in which the good of the whole (nation and world) are the first priority. In this new normal, all of the parties to an issue negotiate in good faith, with the understanding that nobody is going to get everything. In this new normal, the elected officials are held accountable by an informed elctorate and not by fat-cat PAC donations or the lack thereof.
OK, I get it. It’s a pipe dream and I’m sure the ideal is not obtainable but at the very least, we the people need to reclaim We, The People… Let’s stop claiming the title of “Patriot” and let’s all start acting as patriots.
—echo4golf clear.

Apples and Oranges

In this day and age of high-speed, low-drag technology, there seems to be a notion that wars can be fought without the collateral, non-combatant casualties that happen. Americans have forgotten that our armed forces have one basic mission: to kill people. That can be prettied up any number of ways, but the basic mission of the military involves dealing death on multiple scales and in a number of different ways. While there are all sorts of rules to try and limit that killing to “legitimate” targets, the problem is that people in charge forget that our job involves high explosives, unguided rounds downrange, and mark 1 mod 0 eyeballs in addition to all of the technical mumbo-jumbo. In war, people die. That’s a basic fact and the only way to alleviate the death is to eliminate war.  That’s a nice notion but somewhat unrealistic for the human race at this time.

Death during war-time is the highest price that the human race pays. In the case of the deaths of hostile forces,  the deaths are Although in the case of friendly deaths there is always responsibility, there is not necessarily culpability to accompany the former. A non-commissioned or commissioned officer of the armed forces is charged with the safety and well-being of his or her troops. With that charge comes responsibility and the loss of a single troop bears a price that no person who has not experienced it can understand. I include myself in the latter group, thank God. While such losses are less common than they used to be they still occur. Such deaths are recognized as the “fortunes of war” and, while that provides scant comfort for the bereaved, such deaths are not the result of actions that are, “meriting condemnation, censure or blame, especially as something wrong, harmful or injurious…” (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/culpable).

For some time I’ve wondered about the notion of holding SecState and POTUS culpable for the action fought in Benghazi in 2012. That the upper echelons, as well as the entire chain of command, bear responsibility for the loss of the military and civilian lives lost cannot be questioned. In fact, there is enough responsibility to go around for every American when we lose a member of the Armed Forces, a diplomat, or a contractor in the line of duty. There is no culpability, though. In this specific case, budget cuts for embassy security staff came from the legislative branch and not the executive. Neither branch of our government bears culpability for acts that were made in good faith as part of their duty and, politically motivated or not, such were the governmental acts that led up to Benghazi.

In the case of the Yemen operation, though, an operation that had been shelved as not likely to succeed with acceptable losses, there is culpability for the non-combatant civilian deaths as well as that of Senior Chief Owens.  It lies squarely on Oval Office and provides yet another example of President Trump’s unsuitability for public office.

Despite being healthy enough to play sports in school, he was medically deferred from military service during the war in Viet Nam. While a lack of military experience is not disqualifying, Mr. Trump’s predecessors often relied on the experts.  This adventure, on the other hand, seems to be nothing more than an attempt to demonstrate the intelligence and leadership abilities.  If that is so, it failed miserably.  It did offer evidence that Trump has a gift for taking credit for the success of others and sloughing off fault for bad decisions. America was largely aware of those traits, however, and they seem to come with higher office. It also highlighted the notion held by the Trump regime that it is appropriate to ignore contrarian advice from outside the Oval Office. That is problematic in any case.  The real problem evinced by Trump’s adventure, however, is the clear choice to ignore the military and intelligence communities (including the folks who have been there and done that). That is more problematic and is where the culpability (as well as malfeasance, pre-meditated murder, manslaughter, and abuse of power.

Trump’s adventure came at the cost of one of our own who was paid to take chances. Senior Chief Owens volunteered and he knew what he was getting into, but he deserved better than this. The military has long borne the cost of such adventures — it is one of the things we get paid for, but it is time to hold those responsible for such decisions accountable. My military brothers and sisters deserve better than this.

The cost of Trump’s first adventure abroad also included another of our own who was not yet old enough to vote, eight-year-old Anwaar al-Awlaki, an American citizen in the wrong place at the wrong time. Given that a major part of the job of the President is to oversee the safety and success of America and her citizens regardless of their race, creed, or sex, it is clear that Mr. Trump failed here too.

Yet a third cost of this adventure also included civilians who were caught in the line of fire. No doubt the administration regards these other non-combatant losses as not worthy of notice because, according to several of those in the Oval Office, “them people” were most likely Muslim and therefore terrorists. This type of endemic racism has no place in America (or anywhere else for that matter), and certainly not at the highest level of our government.

The issue is exacerbated by the tone adopted by the oval office, indicating an affinity for being surrounded by yes-men and yes-women. The fate of our late acting Attorney General shows what happens to dissent of any sort. That presents something of a problem in a world where lives are unnecessarily lost when the Commander in Chief makes an “error” in judgment. In this case, the cost was the death of at least two Americans and an unknown number of other non-combatants. The former is unconscionable, the latter a violation of international laws and treaties. President Trump is directly culpable for those acts.

Mr. Trump’s adventure must be investigated and appropriate action taken. This was not another Benghazi. There is clear culpability and the Executive Branch needs to be held accountable to the American people by the Legislative and Judicial branches. This before the system of checks and balances that protect our Constitution and our rights are completely lost. To do less is to deny justice to the dead of all faiths. To do less is to deny justice to the American people. To do less is to present a clear and present to the United States of America and her Constitution.

To do less is to deny justice to the dead of all faiths. To do less is to deny justice to the American people. To do less is to present a clear and present to the United States of America and her Constitution.

To do less is to deny justice to the American people. To do less is to present a clear and present to the United States of America and her Constitution.

To do less is to present a clear and present to the United States of America and her Constitution.

Echo4Golf Clear

An Open Letter to President-elect Donald Trump

Mr. Trump,

Well, sir, here’s your opportunity.

The “whiny millennials,” who are legitimately frightened for themselves, their families, and the friends in their extended families are calling for leadership with their protests. Now, you probably know this already, but it’s not just millennials that you’re hearing from right now, it’s Americans from all over the country. You’re their President-elect and they are exercising their First Amendment rights, calling for legitimate redress of issues and clarification of certain “promises” made, which you have brought to the fore-front with your “campaign.”

Keep ignoring them at your own peril. Perhaps you might consider, though, the demonstration of some leadership by reaching out and addressing the legitimate issues they are raising.

Of course, this legitimate expression of fears and grievances doesn’t excuse the law-breaking and violence by any means. But there’s also no excuse for the cowardly unsigned notes, threats or violence against “other” members of our society, American or not that would appear are being perpetrated by your followers. Perhaps you might want to address those issues as well?

The silence of the current White House on the violence is appalling, and I don’t understand it, especially given President Obama’s stance on other civil disturbances that have occurred during his administration. On the other hand, you seem to have such a low opinion of the man that I’m sure you have plans for these occurrences.

The silence of HRC on the subject is disturbing as well but it’s really not her problem, is it? She is, I’m sure, recovering her health and preparing her defense for when you try and send her to jail. How you plan to achieve that when there’s already been so much public money spent unsuccessfully on doing just that I’m not sure. But I digress.  I’m pretty sure she sees the protesters as your problem as well. I can’t say as I blame her given your systemic marginalization and the lies about her told to an adoring audiencefor your entire “campaign.” Oh, she also has the names and number of a lot of people who answer the phone when she calls. But I’m sure you know that too.

It might help if people on both sides would look past glasses colored by privilege or institutionalized victimhood. What would really help, though, is if we could stop threatening families of those differing in race, color, creed, orientation, and anything else. That applies to both sides of the aisle. The American Family, regardless of composition is the very basic unit or our society and as such deserves much more respect than it gets. You might want to think about that too.

So, how about it Mr. President-elect? I realize that you’re in something of a bind because you seem to be lacking the moral authority with which to act at this point. But it’s still the job. You won the election and you’re the President-elect of all us Americans. Now’s your chance. Let’s see some effective leadership. Let’s see you make American great again starting today.

PS I met one of your supporters yesterday. You’ll be happy to know that he is elated, can repeat your talking points by rote, ad nauseum, and has given you a year before he withdraws from society or whatever it is he’s going to do should you fail of your promises. With supporters like that, you can’t help but win. Better get on it.


I see… Well, who am us, anyway?

From the same people who brought you We are all Bozos on This Bus, and The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, an old Firesign Theatre bit asks, “who am us anyway?” Well, I just popped in on a Facebook conversation about the sighting of a white supremacist in PA, “SS decals on the truck. Nazi tattoos, nazi sweatshirt. Right here in,” Smalltown, PA. Immediate reactions suggested that the individual was a hired propagandist working for any number of different agents. Other reactions suggested that the KKK was active all through Western PA. I don’t know about either of these probabilities but I wouldn’t be surprised, if either, or both, were true. There is an anti-other element all through central and western PA. And, while I don’t know the eastern part of the state as well, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it was state-wide. I’m not just picking on my home state. I’ve lived in a number of different towns in five plus states and two countries and what I’ve seen indicates that this simple anti-other bias from Smalltown, PA, is actually endemic to Smalltown, USA or even a Smalltown, everywhere. It’s a very large part of “who we am.”

This anti-other sentiment is not an active thing, like the Neo-Nazi or KKK style of racism, which is public and very-very easy to hate (or love, I guess, if that’s your thing). It is a part of the local sub-culture that lies beneath the surface and it is hard to see unless you are an outsider and become a part of the town / church / family / club. In fact, this anti-other sentiment is grounded in a set of reality assumptions attached to small-town / coal patch / quarry town, PA. These assumptions posit the inherent superiority of race / religion / pre-US nationality or anything that sets people in a group or area apart from the riff-raff and establish for the holder a place “as good as any and better than most.” In a very real way, these assumptions form the basis of “who we am.”

The biggest problem with such assumptions is that, while they don’t posit anything beyond a vague notion of superiority, neither are they questioned by their holders.  The nature of any reality assumption is that the holder is often completely unaware that his or her notions of reality are grounded in unproven or unprovable assumptions. As they can only be seen from the outside, there is no form of peer review, as it were, because it is an assumption shared among many peers and outsiders who might question the assumption are rare. Further, as assumptions, these beliefs are unthinkingly granted the status of “universal truth” and any rational thought on the subject ends there. Many, perhaps most, people don’t question their place in their own reality. In the case of assumptions that establish a place for the holder “as good as any and better than most,” other potential problems become apparent.

As these assumptions are internal to an individual or small group, they do not in and of themselves lead down the road to riots, hatred, and lynchings. The real problem is that, because of their unquestioned validity in the eyes of unwitting subscribers, reality assumptions of this nature are easily subject to external influences. Such influences, deliberate or not, are interpreted through the lens created by the assumptions and it is here that the horrible range of actions embraced by the active anti-other movements become possible. The reality assumption is a precursor; activation is the horrible realization of potential. This activation is what we are seeing now in America. Certain elements of the Republican campaign for the Presidency have, deliberately or otherwise, in their all-out quest for power, activated the underlying assumptions of superiority in Republican American. Further, Liberal, largely Democratic elements, through instilling similar assumptions in differing groups, have created even more instances of potential for activation and have spent the last fifty years activating them.

If you are among the many who can’t see why “other” people and their supporters are flying off the handle and going from zero to highly agitated in the micro-second since the last election, it’s because of fear. Fear of deportation, fear of physical and mental violence, fear of losing what gains have been made in the last century-and-a-half for a lot of “other”s.

If you are among the “others” who can’t see why Republican America is have been dancing gleefully around the Trump election, it’s also because of fear. Fear of loss of place, loss of America (whatever that means), fear of other.

That’s not the worst though. Worst is that the open nature of our society makes it easy for outside influences to gain a foothold and encourage destructive paths. If you don’t believe that, look at international elements in the US peace movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the IWW “Wobbly” movements of the early twentieth century. Imagine that type of interference actively sponsored by a large nation-state or two, a government and people that are too blind to spot such interference and take it seriously.

In reality, it all comes back to Smalltown, USA and the reality assumptions underpinning local anti-other feelings regardless of the source. There is no logical way to reconcile the notion that everyone is superior to everyone else.

Sucks, huh?  Fortunately no one has ever said that America was bound by logic.  Assuming that the outside influences don’t get too big a grip on things, America will survive this little lesson in humility.  Our country works best when we work together–when the reality assumptions stay buried in Smalltown and when we exercise tolerance for other. That’s what we’re being reminded of right now: tolerance.  “Other” will always be here.  You, regardless of who you “am anyway,” are other to many-many Americans.  Your job as an American does not include doing that of God. Nor does it include judging people exercising their Constitutional rights.  Nor does it include being better than the Joneses.

You are not the Joneses. They are other. You are unlikely to understand why they are making the choices they make. Rather, learn tolerance for all. Question the basis of your own thoughts and actions. If they’re grounded in any sort of notion that you’re better than your fellow Americans or fellow travelers in the world, perhaps you should reconsider your own reality assumptions.

OK: quick reality check, people, what’s the first thing you thought when you saw the phrase “fellow travelers?” Was it “people,” without modifiers? If not, with respect, perhaps you’ve got some work to do.

Echo4Golf, clear

That pesky “soft lockup detected” message…

If you’ve read any of my more geekish entries, you’ll know that I bought a surplus Dell Poweredge 2900 server last year with the intent of setting up a MineCraft server or two for my son.  I decided to use VirtualBox VMs because I liked the notion of playing with the software, and it seemed to me to be a bit more secure. There’s nothing all that sensitive on the machine but still, security is security and in this case access to one server did not mean access to the rest.

Problems in the form of purported kernel panics reported as soft lockup messages began as soon as I started setting up VMs.

soft lockup detected on CPU#x

I tried several Ubuntu versions, MineOS, and straight Debian, but still the issues persisted.  A couple of months ago, I whined to my Facebook friends and Ian Mclaird suggested that it might be an issue with the symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support.  Thus armed with new words, I began another search and finally discovered that the issue is very specific to SMP in VMs.  It’s also a bit rare, I guess, as there are only two posts that I’ve been able to find addressing the issue.


The short version is that you need to tweak a kernel setting and make sure it’s applied at boot.  Using nano or your favorite editor, edit /etc/sysctl.conf as root, simply add a line at the end as shown. Note: for the later kernels at least, you can use a / or a . to delinate the sub-directories.

  • with kernels from somewhere prior to 2013, try: kernel/watchdog_thresh=180
  • For Ubuntu 14 and 15, as well as Debian Wheezie and Jessie, try” /proc/sys/kernel/watchdog_thresh
  • For Ubuntu 16: try  /proc/sys/kernel/hung_task_timeout_secs

Two notes:

First: when I tried to set this Ubuntu 16 I wound up with an error at boot to the effect of “kernel parameters not loaded.” (Sorry, I’m not going to try and recreate the exact error and I can’t find it on line…) What happened is that the value at /proc/sys/kernel/hung_task_timeout_secs is protected. I think, but have not confirmed that there is a maximum value and the sysctl checks the value.  As I didn’t want to mess with it any more, I reviewed the document at the third link (https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt)  and set /kernel/watchdog=0.  This was not my first choice as it disables both the hard and soft lockup watchdogs. I may get back to the this but for now, the system(s) are stable, so I’m moving on!

Edit (6/17): one of my Debian Jessie servers hung so I turned the watchdog back on. The max for /proc/sys/kernel/watchdog_thresh appears to be 60. It tosses an error with anything larger.

Second: you can try settings in a non-persistant manner by running (as root, use sudo as necessary)

sysctl -w /proc/sys/kernel/hung_task_timeout_secs=xx

You can also reload the /etc/sysctl.conf file with:

sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf

Echo4Golf Clear


I am not
who I want to be

I am
so many things bad and good but mostly just me
so many thoughts right and wrong
so many impulses (un)controlled
liberal conservative conservative liberal

I am (not)
alone in a world filled with hate and discontent

An open letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I’m a supporter. I voted for you twice and would do so again were it possible. I have watch through eight years of an obstructionist Congress making every one of your choices, good or bad, a huge battle. I have seen men and women on both sides of the aisle, men and women that I should be able to respect, act as spoiled little children, as traitors to our nation in the name of … well whatever it was in the name of. I understand at least some of the challenges that you have faced.

Having said that, I have a question for you:

With all due respect, sir, words are great, but what are you / we going to do about this?

In fact, I ask this question of our Government as a whole. Senators, Congress-people, appointed Cabinet Members, policy-makers all: what are we going to do about these fundamentalist fruitcakes who choose to commit suicide by cop in order to make one anti-other statement or another. If it’s not radical “Muslims,” it’s so-called Christians. Or radical-this or fundamentalist-that. Where is the plan to root out the causes of these evil acts performed by evil people?

Such actions are all grounded in fear and hatred and they are a much more significant issue on a national and international scale than any other. They have got to be stopped. Again, I ask: where is the coherent plan from our government? From the people? From *any* of the candidates for any office?

We all know, or at least we should, that America has some very hard decisions to make, even before the election. This especially given the nature of the two front-running candidates, neither of whom is acceptable to me or to many-many other Americans. The time has come for leadership and not finger pointing. The time has come to put away the political bullshit and start being Americans rather than “liberals,” “conservatives,” straight, gay, religious, atheist, or any of the many other things that divide us as a people.


Our leadership should be ashamed of their example, as should those striving for higher positions within that leadership.

We, as Americans, should be ashamed for tolerating such obstreperousness in our leaders. They are supposed to be of us, not a separate ruling class. For shame America, for worrying more about how much each of us can have, rather than making sure of the supply for generations to come, and sharing our bounties with the world. For shame for our greed, our hatred, our ignorance, and for our baseless fears. For shame for our need to watch our brothers and sisters more closely that we watch ourselves.

For shame.

There will be a reckoning in November, but that may well be too late. The time to start leading is long past. I call on all those in positions of leadership to accept the responsibilities to which they aspired, or leave. It’s that simple: either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!

Further, I call on all Americans to come together and put an end to this “silly-season” before it’s too late and our great nation is no more. I call on all Americans to exercise discretion and tolerance before acting, and to engage their brains before running their mouths. We must help those who need help, and do away with the issues that allow these fundamentalist freaks to control us.

America was once a great nation. There is no question of that, unless we look at the past through rose-colored, revisionist lenses. But we are no longer. Although we may be the only cold-war “super-power” left standing, we have failed ourselves, our children and the rest of the world. It’s time to clean up our act and take our place among the greats again. Starting now!

@Barack Obama ‪#‎ForShameAmerica‬ ‪#‎AmericaMatters‬

Server Upgrade: OS, Virtualbox, and MineOS

Warning: if you’re not into computers, or get annoyed by amateurs who are, you might want to skip this post!

The new server is up and running with everything that used to run on the Raspberry Pi.  My original philosophy for the unit as a whole was to run a very basic Ubuntu server install with Virtualbox, and then to run the different servers and services as separate virtual machines.  My thinking was that even though that would duplicate the Linux installs, I have plenty of resources and this setup would allow me to work on one server issue while the others were unaffected.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!  First, let’s talk about basic hardware configuration. For those just joining us, I purchased on eBay a Dell Poweredge 2900 (see this post). in order to set up a MineCraft server for what was supposed to be a middle school club.  The club fell through but I set up the servers anyway. I also decided to move the servers from a Raspberry Pi to the “new” machine. The machine was set up a bit differently than advertised.  4GB of memory turned out to be 8, and the hard drives turned out to be hardware arrays (73GBx2 in a RAID 1, and 146×4 in a RAID5).  Once I re-seated the hard drives everything started right up. I discovered that parts for the machine, with one exception, are dirt cheap so I spent about $120, maxed the memory at 48GB, added 3 more 146GB drives, and the missing front bezel.  The machine came with dual-ethernet, a DRAC (remote access card) which provides dedicated access to the server outside of the bandwidth being used by ETH0 and ETH, redundant power supplies, hot swappable fans and drives, options to mirror or assign memory and drives as mirrors or hot-spares, and other things that I don’t think I’ll ever use.  Add to that two 1TB external drives, and I’m looking at about 3TB of storage.  Not to shabby.  In fact, if you’re keeping score (I am, and I suspect SWMBO is as well…) that’s about $180 so far, which isn’t bad for that system.  I also passed my old garage workstation on to Nick, so I’ve added a video card and a Sound-Blaster as well.  Unfortunately, those two were a bit more specialized and cost about the same as the entire rest of the system.  I also had to give up (for now, at least) the DRAC5 in the server, due to IRQ conflicts with the video cars.  I had thought those a things of the past, but we’ll see. It’s working so I’m not in a hurry to fix anything.

In any case, for less than $400, I won’t complain.

In terms of software, I installed a copy of the latest Ubuntu 14.04 as the OS.  I started with 15.04, but went back a version because the Debian folks have changed some things that I didn’t want to deal with (and don’t yet understand).  The install was reasonably straight-forward although, for some reason, a USB drive install didn’t work. The machine kept trying to find install files on the CD drive once booted, rather than looking at the USB stick. Not a big deal and I simply burned the ISO to a CD and ran a traditional install.

I next installed VirtualBox (Instrtuctions here) and set up virtual machines for MineCraft and a simple LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, and PHP) server. That’s where things started to go a bit downhill.  The LAMP server was no problem and is still running today.  The MineCraft server was an issue, however, in that I could not get a modded server to run stabally. As soon as I set them up on the physical machine, all three of the servers started to behave themselves. The way is stands now, minecraft.echo4golf.com shows server status and ports and resides on its own VM.  I plan to consolodate that to the LAMP server when I have time.  Again, it’s not broken, so I’m not in a hurry to fix it.

This blog, several other services including an OwnCloud installation and our eBook library (running Calibre ODPS (and HTML) PHP Server or COPs), and a couple of admin services such as Webmin and  Shell-In-A-Box are running on the VM LAMP. That machine has 2GB of RAM dedicated, and a 120GB virtual drive that I’m going to compress at some point.  It doesn’t need the space as the OwnCloud files are on a USB drive connected to the server and shared with the VM.

The physical service is running three MineCraft Servers controlled by the MineOS WebUI as well as Dell’s Open Manager Server Adminstrator.  As I noted above, I lost the DRAC, so the OMSA install is kind of important.  I also went ahead and installed LXDE (see LXDE.org | Lightweight X.11 Desktop Environment) as I like a GUI occasionally, and I’m familiar with this one from the Raspberry Pi.  It looks a lot like Windows, and is pretty responsive, both of which are a plus for me. This way, I can run the server either remotely or directly, and either as a console or GUI session.  I’ve added a Windows 7 VM as well and plan to move my workstation there from what is now Nicky’s desktop.

So, that’s where we are.  Coming soon:

  • Adding a Video Card and a Sound Card to the Dell PowerEdge 2900
  • Installing a simply LAMP Server, services, and utilities on the Dell PowerEdge 2900
  • Multiple sites in Apache
  • Simple (and FREE!) DNS, SSL, and MX services for your domain

In the meantime,
Echo4Golf clear!