the little computer that should

My home server went phut last week. There was a brief power outage, and everything else came back on — except the server. It was a three year old Mini-ITX box, and I’m casting about for ways to replace it.

To serve my immediate music serving and podcasting needs, I have pressed The Only Computer That Runs Windows into service, running Ubuntu using Wubi. Unfortunately, I do still occasionally need to run Garmin Mapsource, which only runs on Windows, and also The Only Computer That Runs Windows is also rather too nice a laptop to be sat doing server duty.

I have some options:

  • Get a new motherboard for the mini-itx box. Via still has some crazy ideas about pricing (over $200 for a fanless C7?) but maybe I’ll go for Intel’s snappily-named D945GCLF, which looks okay for what I need and is only $80.
  • I could resurrect the old Athlon box I got in 2002, but it’s big, loud, and its components are probably near end of life. Also, why disturb a mature spider habitat?

What I was really looking for was one of those tiny fanless internet appliance boxes that were so 2007 (like the Koolu and the Zonbu, both of which have moved on to other things), but such units, without the tied storage service contract, are upwards of $500.

My needs are simple:

  • run Firefly to feed the Soundbridges;
  • generate the automatic podcast every day, which realistically means a linux box with Perl, sqlite and the like;
  • have something to ssh into when boredom strikes the need arises. Perhaps unwise having an open machine sitting directly on the internet, but only the ssh port will be open.

I really also need to get rid of all the computer junk in the basement. It now includes two fritzed mini-ITX systems and the world’s slowest PostScript laser printer. Such fun.

see, I told you ages ago

Trendy roof turbines are not as green as they look says The Observer. <smugness/>
Paul Gipe has some thoughts on this:

The last one has a couple of pictures I took when we were in Scotland.

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 …

deep fried jam sandwich à la mode

I just had a deep fried strawberry jam sandwich (with ice cream) at St Andrews Fish & Chip restaurant at Ellesmere & McCowan — and survived!

(it was good, incidentally)

Our server also had Bishopbriggs connections, so it’s a wee world.

everything old is new again: clean coal

Clean coal seems to be in vogue, but when I read about it, I thought — hang on, isn’t this just the old town gas technology?

I’m guessing the new clean coal guys don’t want us to know about the old town gasworks in the UK, most of which still have toxic wastes lurking deep down.

importing mail from Mozilla Thunderbird on Linux to Mac

How lucky that Thunderbird uses the same text mail format for storing messages. All I needed to do was scp individual server directories from under .thunderbird to ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/saltname.default/Mail — that did the job!

I didn’t use the shared global inbox that Thunderbird uses by default. If you do what I did, you probably shouldn’t either.