16 Feb 2008

Innards of "the Beast"

The 2300 is an interesting (and large, and heavy) beast. It’s all SCSI – no IDE here – and has both an onboard U160 channel and the option to add a hardware PCI RAID controller. Mine has that option (called the “PERC 2/SC”) installed, and connected to a 6-bay front-loading hotswap backplane for SCA2 drives. Unfortunately, all the drives had been pulled, along with their sleds, when I bought it. Bummer. (I understand not leaving the drives in a surplused machine, but really, taking the sleds? That’s a bit low.)

A quick peek inside showed that it was full of RAM – exactly how much I couldn’t determine, since the chips didn’t specify and the part numbers didn’t bring up any useful information when Googled – and had a single 550MHz PIII processor installed.

Since the machine has two slots, my first search was for an extra PIII processor to fill it out. eBay quickly came to the rescue; for less than a measly $5 (and that’s with shipping), I had a second processor.

A little more Googling turned up some good deals on SCA2 U160 hard drives; unfortunately not as inexpensive on a per-MB basis as modern ATA disks, but dirt cheap compared to what they went for only a few years ago. I opted for 4 73GB 10k RPM Seagates to start with, enough to set up a decent RAID-5 array, while still leaving some room for additional expansion later.

On the OS front, I’m still not sure whether I want to go with BSD – probably OpenBSD, since I have an official CD set, bought mostly on impulse a while back – or Linux. I’m more comfortable in general with Linux, and I feel like I’ll be able to do more with the server if it’s running Linux, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to delve more into BSD and can’t decide if this is when I should take the plunge or not.

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