is dead (again)


You may be looking at this because you have a web site or mailing list hosted by and you are wondering where it went.

At just after 01:00 GMT today, Sunday 25th June, the server suffered some form of hardware hiccup. The following was seen on its console:

hda: lost interrupt
hda: dma_timer_expiry: dma status == 0x61
hda: DMA timeout error

and it locked up.

Over the last few weeks we have had similar problems a few times, but they all involved /dev/hdc and the server always came back after a power cycle via Black Cat‘s APC masterswitch. Last Wednesday I went to the data centre and replaced hdc for a new Western Digital drive in an attempt to cure the problem.

This time involves /dev/hda and the machine isn’t coming back after a power cycle. I expect the worst to be honest, but if we are lucky it’s simply the case that hda is dead and the BIOS is refusing to boot from hdc.

All this means that I need to go to the data centre later today, as soon as I am able, and assess the situation. We could be in for a long, possibly permanent downtime.

I know this sucks, but before complaining too much, please consider that we have no budget and our existing setup consists of desktop-quality hardware being used in a 24×7 hosting environment. If anyone is prepared to donate a decent 1U server that can take two IDE (PATA) drives and 3x1GB DDR RAM (from the existing hardware) then that would be really great.

I will update as soon as I know more.


“e107 website system” — please die in a chemical fire

Earlier today I noticed something odd in the Exim mainlog on a machine, so went hunting. I found a user’s website that uses something called the “e107 website system.”

This appears to have a feature whereby an existing news item on the site can be emailed to an arbitrary email address with arbitrary extra text added by whoever sends it. Anyone can send these emails. It appears to have been used to send 46 spam emails since June 9th.

This feature is mind-numbingly stupid. I have no idea if it is a standard feature of e107, or some idiotic plugin, but whoever wrote it has not the first clue of what they are doing.

Couple this with our need to shut down another e107 site in the last few weeks due to it being filled with comment spam and bringing the server to its knees with poor SQL queries, and this fun read:

I cannot stress enough how much I recommend people not touch this e107 thing with a barge pole.

Dear Lazyweb, help me set up my audio

In times past, when I had a desktop computer, I’d always have to be in that one place to use it, so attaching speakers to it was a reasonable way to play music while I worked. These days I only have a laptop for my personal computing needs, and all my data is on a fileserver here at home.

Unfortunately, playing music through a laptop speaker is less than acceptable. It got so bad that I just went to attach my old desktop’s speakers to my laptop, and found that one of them was dead. Clearly I need to revamp my audio setup.

So how should I do this? What I want is to be able to direct the audio from my laptop to come out of speakers in the room I am in, whether I am playing music/video from the fileserver’s samba share (common), or watching a dvd (not so common). Initially this needs to work in my bedroom, but should be easily expandable later to other places I use the laptop, such as the lounge.

I currently have no audio hardware (no hifi, no amp, no speakers) so am really starting from scratch. I’m not an audio buff and was previously happy with the quality of audio produced by decent powered computer speakers.  It’d be nice if I don’t have to attach more wires to my laptop also. There is a 100M switched ethernet network linking upstairs and downstairs so anything that isn’t going to move about can be plugged into that.

My budget is let’s say 500 UKP. Possibly more for a solution that is really good, will last ages and can be easily transported to any future accomodation.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

New fileserver for home

specialbrew's disks

Recently my fileserver, becks, was not only getting filled to capacity but was also undergoing some severe performance problems. It’s by no means a poorly-specced machine (not for home use anyway) but my use of rsnapshot has grown so much in the last 6 months that it was no longer up to the job.

Read on for the saga of its replacement.

Continue reading “New fileserver for home”