Friday, January 24, 2014

The Backup Server

When it comes to just in case technology I am most definitely NOT a carrying fan.

What I mean is that I explicitly refuse to routinely carry around extra gadgets for example batteries /just in case/ , if the chance of my primary gadget failure is close to zero.

The same however cannot be said of my Computer Workstation.  Agata knows, if my workstation is down then Marcus is very down.  And so with some effort I have at last found time to provision the backup server.

This is simply the old master server of 2008 based on the excellent Lian Li V2100 chassis.

 Lots of fans to keep things cool

A CoolerMaster 1000W power supply

Removable SATA storage, Floppy, Card Reader and Optical Drives

 The caddies are removable

There is a Promise Exa Track EX8650 8 port SATA PCIe controller card as well as 6 native Motherboard SATA3 ports.

With the BIOS in SATA AHCI mode the summary screen shows no disks.

Update that BIOS

The Supermicro X7DWA-N motherboard might be old yet still capable,  but it would not boot my USB key containing any Linux or Windows!   Initial OS installs had to be done via a DVD/ CD.  How old fashioned.

Finally I found Bios 1.2C .  Here is the Supermicro motherboard spec page

Since the Firmware is 2MB I was unsure how to boot the floppy as suggested online.  I tried to make a CDROM boot emulation floppy but it ended up 1.44MB is size.  Eventually I found booting a Caldera Dos 7 diskette with a smorgasbord of drivers and when booted enabled me to see an attached Hard Disk, where I placed the 2MB BIOS. And then reflash.  Now at Bios 1.2C I can boot from a USB key ... at last.

But which OS?

Windows 8.1 was my favourite but NIC teaming does not work

The Promise GUI allows you to provision Logical Disks from the Physical disks allocated to the RAID controller.  Disks can be aggregated as RAID or JBOD etc.

FreeNas 9.20 installed without issue

RHEL 7 installed eventually  (but only from DVD not from key)

Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 seemed to be the best match after all factors were considered:

  • The R2 version can have installed many Windows 8.1 desktop experience extensions
  • NIC teaming works via the OS
  • VMware support for all virtualisation environments :-)

  • Backup and Restore included within 2012 Server and can effect a restore from end to end in < 20 minutes.

So now, if the primary workstation fails.  A backup is nestling in the basement.

8 core is go
Supermicro X7DWA-N manual