I’ve finally re-resuscitated the Thinkpad T21 into a basement server. Quiet it isn’t (its fan cooler and hard drive are loud), but it just works. It used to run OpenBSD, but now it’s running Ubuntu Server. I really tried to like OpenBSD, but it was a bit too spartan for my tastes.

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …

the outside world

Finally got something useful done with the Thinkpad with the broken backlight. Thanks to lots of help from Paul, and a critical bit of advice from Stephen, it’s now living on my network and visible to the outside world.
What had me initially confused was that both my modem (a SpeedTouch 546) and my Netgear router have NAT firewalls. I had to declare the router as a DMZ on my modem, and the Thinkpad a DMZ on my router. Also, the router’s DynDNS support was only reporting its IP address as seen behind the modem, so I had to turn that off and use dynDNS from the modem.

Security hole? Perhaps; but it’s not as if OpenBSD is the least secure or most widely-used OS. I’ve really only got sshd and thttpd running, so there’s not much to chew on