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Netbook server project with an asus eeepc 1015 [ONGOING]
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HeXiLeD
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:41 pm    Post subject: Netbook server project with an asus eeepc 1015 [ONGOING] Reply with quote

I thought about sharing the project and hearing some feedback from you guys.

The netbook server project is a project that i started in 02/04/2012 as consequence of a hosting provider massive hosting system malfunction which almost caused 100% data loss of all my hosted projects.

In the past i had hosted those projects for several years on a home server with 100% stability using a workstation server who was used as workstation, server, gaming platform, media system, routing box and much more. During it's last 2 years of active performance the box which had a dual core xeon/emt64 3.2 ghz, 4TB storage and 4GB Ram was rock solid stable and only rebooted 2 times due to optional kernel upgrades.

However the energy consumption of such setup was escalating to the point that many of us start to consider a hosting provider solution if bandwidth is still not a problem.

I hosted my projects with the refereed provider for 1 year on virtual (VPS) 1.8 ghz dual core atom with 20GB storage and 512mb ram at a cost of 190 U.S. dollars / 145 euros which included 100mbit unlimited bandwidth.

The VPS machine was then running the following services on debian lenny 4 & 5.* linux kernel 2.6.32.2: httpd, sftp, ssh, ircd, mysql, stunnel, ntpd, bitlbee, tor.

Currently runs gentoo linux 2007 kernel 2.6.32.2 and 2GB ram upgrade with a serveral tipical services but only httpd, ircd, tor are actively being used.

Hosting provider upgrades to the kernel distro versions and many packages are blocked/not supported by the (provider) package/service bought.

After the hosting provider incident and given the unprofessional nature of how my reports were dealt with i decided not to risk my work again with them; even tho the hosting service was paid for 2 more years. A decision of hosting myself the projects was made having in mind previous experiences, advantages and problems.

After some deep research and having thought about, pros, cons, costs, time, functionality, durability, performance and testing the main goal is to have a netbook setup with fully custom (riced) gentoo linux operating system providing a simple stable and very affordable for one straight year which by then i will consider this project a success according to my current beliefs.

At a cost of one time economic investment of 200 U.S. dollars / 153 euros compared to 190 U.S. dollars / 145 euros from the hosting provider i decided to start the netbook server project using:

Hardware
Netbook: Asus eeepc 1015pem
CPU: 4 core Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N550 @ 1.50GHz
RAM: 1GB
Hard drive: Seagate ST9250315AS 250GB
Consumption: 4w minium, 5W average, 8W maximum.
OS: Gentoo linux
Kernel: Vanilla Sources 3.2.12 custom
UPS: APC1500 XS (13h capacity plus 5h from netbook battery)
Bandwidth: 6mbit
One time economic cost: 200 U.S. dollars / 153 Euros (in 02/04/2012)

Concerns

As of 14/04/2012
Hard drive durability
Internal fans durability
Internal Heating and heat dissipation

Pros & Cons

A list of pros and cons compared to a professional hosting provider service.

Pros
Cheaper hosting
Power consumption at 5w
Full machine control 24/7
More CPU, RAM and HD storage compared to the service i had and for less economic cost
Portability to anywhere anytime
Wireless compatible server perfect for wireless networks in particular adhoc mesh
One time economic cost of 200 U.S. dollars / 153 euros compared to 190 U.S. dollars / 145 euros from the hosting provider

Cons
Less bandwidth (if you cannot have 100mbit from your ISP) (optional)
If the batteries run out of power and the netbook shuts down; it does not have bios wakeup functionality which means manual boot
Hard and costly to find ecc buffered compatible ram (optional)

The full wiki page with all details can be seen at http://nixbits.net/wiki/Netbook_server_project which includes detailed hardware information, system information statistics and the current uptime is now:

Code:
12:19:07 up 122 days, 54 min, 12 users,  load average: 0.04, 0.06, 0.09


and RAM usage:

Code:
# free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:       1011884     854496     157388          0      52408     108028
-/+ buffers/cache:     694060     317824
Swap:      2000088     300664    1699424


Average CPU usage is under 4% for one core only and power consumption is in average 5W having some spikes of 8W max being the minimum of 4W.

By far the netbook server project has superseded my most optimistic expectations for the first 90 days and my main goal is 1 year of fully functionality without hardware problems which by then i will consider the economic investment fully paid.

There are some details (mostly regarding my concerns) that i will be talking about later but for now the wiki page has all the available information i am sharing.

I don't know if anyone else tried the same but your feedback, questions and experiences are greatly appreciated.
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eccerr0r
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mentioned the hosting provider losing all data, suppose the same thing happened to your netbook - What do you have to prevent this? Did they have hard drive failure? Why didn't they have RAID or backups of your data?

The bandwidth problem is a sticky problem. I definitely do not have the bandwidth to host a major project on my home network. Also the fact that home internet is of lower priority for the service provider to fix if it goes down.

Sorry, just some devil's advocacy here. I actually run my own server at home without too much care for power consumption, but with full RAID and some limited backup (to another machine), UPS, etc. but the WAN bandwidth limits is the biggest problem with a home server. Plus the monthly costs of maintaining static IP at home is also huge... this monthly network connectivity far exceeds the cost of power even with a full desktop machine. (The cost of the hardware has already been amortized, it's old...)

I don't have ECC RAM on my particular server. Yes, I'm rolling the dice here...

However there is one nice thing about home servers - you decide or at least know when it goes down, and you know exactly what happened to your data...

(BTW, sometimes it is advantageous for a hosting company to have root access to your hosted machine... at least if they do backups, software updates, and monitor intrusion/spam of your machine. These things cost me a lot of time for me, in my experience trying to keep my server running...)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had an eee pc 1000h. About two month after I purchased it, I broke the display completely. I did not want to repair the display for three-fourths of the purchasing price. So I converted the eee pc to my headless home server. It run nearly three years 24 / 7. But last year it died (could not pass the bios screen - verified with external monitor). Gentoo hardened with ftp, apache, mysql, ssh run on it. A nice feature was the uninterrupted power supply aka battery ;-)

I switched to a hosted vserver, mainly because of static ip and better bandwith.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@ eccerr0r

eccerr0r wrote:
You mentioned the hosting provider losing all data, suppose the same thing happened to your netbook - What do you have to prevent this?


There are several options in order to have this all covered:

a) Another netbook or computer doing a mirror.
b) I do regular backups to my desktop.
c) The netbook has a usb sdcard for backups too which can be a pen
d) and i am looking at raid over usb.

Also take a look at:
- http://rsnapshot.org
- http://en.gentoo-wiki.com/wiki/Rsnapshot

eccerr0r wrote:
Did they have hard drive failure?

http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-p-7020298.html#7020298

eccerr0r wrote:
Why didn't they have RAID or backups of your data?

During the problem they informed me that the product had caused too many problems before and that was not sold anymore due to it. Yet they allowed me to renovate the service. No raid.

eccerr0r wrote:
The bandwidth problem is a sticky problem. I definitely do not have the bandwidth to host a major project on my home network. Also the fact that
home internet is of lower priority for the service provider to fix if it goes down.?

Good point. It is a sticky problem. However in my experience i have had more downtime with the hosting provider in 2 years than with me in 10.
I have also noticed that ISPs services tend to improve. I keep an optimist view of it. Also another home server mirror is an option as back since i have others for other purposes and locations. As for bandwidth limitations and as time goes by i see more and more ISPs providing better packages.
In some countries; 100 mbit at home is an affordable reality.
I started running home servers on 3 mbit/1mbit and from my experience if the hosted content is modest and not heavy i never had problems.

eccerr0r wrote:

Sorry, just some devil's advocacy here. I actually run my own server at home without too much care for power consumption, but with full RAID and some limited backup (to another machine), UPS, etc. but the WAN bandwidth limits is the biggest problem with a home server. Plus the monthly costs of maintaining static IP at home is also huge... this monthly network connectivity far exceeds the cost of power even with a full desktop machine. (The cost of the hardware has already been amortized, it's old...)


Static IP can be expensive depending on the ISP and i am aware. Some ISPs supply the service at $4 per month which to me seems extremely cheap and solves that problem for me. Also in the past i had dynamic IPs with more than 1 year lease.

eccerr0r wrote:

I don't have ECC RAM on my particular server. Yes, I'm rolling the dice here...

Not easy to find for netbooks but does exist. Pricey of course. I also read about it and use it on a netbook and the overall impression i got is that the same kind of memory that comes with it should be the one used.

eccerr0r wrote:

However there is one nice thing about home servers - you decide or at least know when it goes down, and you know exactly what happened to your data...

Full control is without a doubt the best part of it.

eccerr0r wrote:

(BTW, sometimes it is advantageous for a hosting company to have root access to your hosted machine... at least if they do backups, software updates, and monitor intrusion/spam of your machine. These things cost me a lot of time for me, in my experience trying to keep my server running...)
.

In the case of the problem i had i did ask them to access the box and supplied them the access. They refused. All they do is to reboot the machine either in live cd mode or fail safe. However this is a matter for the other topic and explained there.


@ forrestfunk81
forrestfunk81 wrote:
So I converted the eee pc to my headless home server. It run nearly three years 24 / 7.


I have some concerns about the hard drive.
a) Which hardware brand/model did it have and were you running smartd or doing any kind of tests on a regular bases. What type of results did you get ?
b) Did you ever opened it and see it the fans were still ok or ran into any dust problems ?
c) Any temperature data/info about it ? Did you do anything to try to lower the hardware temperature ?
d) what is your feedback about the overall hardware performance and distro were you using with it ?

forrestfunk81 wrote:
I switched to a hosted vserver, mainly because of static ip and better bandwith.

In fact the hosted content was previously on a home server and the reasons to move it to paid hosting service were bandwidth and (foolishly of me) potential/better reliability.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, reliability. I did a calculation and found that my home internet service + power precluded me from getting "five 9's reliability). At most I could achieve "three 9's" and on a good year... There's always something that causes problems.

I wish that it was possible to get 100Mb/s to home, and better yet uplink at that speed too. However in the US, most ISPs even have a "no servers" policy, as they do not want to deal with home users uplinking a lot of data as their infrastructure was made for data consumers only...

I also am not resistant to DDoS. I have been DDoS'ed in the past and it doesn't take much to completely overwhelm my home link. A hosting company typically can take on some DDoS (at least can mitigate it) due to higher uplink, at least one hopes they do - plus they're on the line for multiple customers.

Depending on what you're serving, I suppose. If you're serving videos (which is not the case for the OP) the bandwidth will get overwhelmed fast. I am a DIY'er and DIY when I can, and it's the sole reason why I run servers at home.

(I calculate my total ISP cost is at least 5 times the cost of power for my server (and it's a desktop machine), etc. While some argue that I'm already paying for consumption and it should not be added, there are things that I want but wouldn't dare to run on my machine because I'm worried about degradation of service (namely, conference VOIP - a mumble server). I also tried doing the "pray static doesn't change" and it's a pain when it does even with services like dyndns. Plus static IP lets me run my own mailserver. It was funny because there was this one place that refuses to send mail *to* my machine. I can send mail to people within that organization but I could never receive mail back. Go figure...)
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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2013 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

400 days ago i started the netbook server project . Yesterday i rebooted (exclusively) due to the need of ram upgrade given some extra application i decided to run on it.

It was also checked for possible hardware deterioration and the hard drive went under checking methods. No problems, errors or issues of any kind were found.
After one year of full functioning without any problems; the Netbook server project has itself as a success for a low cost and very economic hosting solution and in fact it paid itself.

The netbook server, by far surpassed my expectations and i am now going for second year test :).
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