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, 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 | 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!






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