Hosting update (and thanks Gentoo)

This post a bit delayed but as usual I’ve been rather busy.

curacao in the new rack

I spent last Saturday (21st) in Telehouse reinstalling curacao to make it similar to the new server, islay. I’d already moved everyone over to islay so I could do this and take as long as I wanted doing it. One slight snag however was that I knew there would be no crash carts, keyboards or monitors there for me to use. I’ve got no problem using serial, it’s all set up for that from the BIOS, but I’d not installed it with only access to serial before as it had originally been installed at home. Adding to the complexity is the fact that I wanted Debian Sarge on it, but the Sarge installer doesn’t support the 3ware RAID card.

It wasn’t really a big deal because I have installed Debian via debootstrap from a live cd more times than I can count, but it had reached 3am Saturday morning and I still hadn’t found a live cd environment that could totally work over serial! Eventually I decided to try the Gentoo 2006.1 live cd. This didn’t work straight off but I was able to mount it loopback and edit isolinux.cfg to make it usable over serial:

serial 0 9600
default gentoo-serial
timeout 150
prompt 1
display boot.msg
F1 kernels.msg
F2 F2.msg
F3 F3.msg
F4 F4.msg
F5 F5.msg
F6 F6.msg
F7 F7.msg

label gentoo
  kernel gentoo
  append root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc dokeymap looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs cdroot initrd=gentoo.igz vga=791 splash=silent,theme:livecd-2006.1 CONSOLE=/dev/tty1 quiet

label gentoo-nofb
  kernel gentoo
  append root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc dokeymap looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs cdroot initrd=gentoo.igz

label gentoo-serial
  kernel gentoo
  append root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc dokeymap nox dolvm2 looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs cdroot initrd=gentoo.igz console=ttyS0

On the day, it turned out I spent more time helping Andrew Whalley find his server! He’d forgotten which room in Telehouse it had been installed in, and we went through three of them checking every rack unit carefully before we located it.

The Gentoo live cd worked beautifully when told to not boot into X, to load LVM2 support and work over serial. I had installed debootstrap, created new logical volumes and copied over the setup from islay in no time. It’s things like that which make me glad that there are so many different competing Linux distributions all trying new things and stopping each other from becoming complacent. So thanks Gentoo for existing and making it easier for me to install Debian! In future now I am starting to collect machines though it may be time to look into netbooting them.

The rest of the Jump rack

Now a week on, curacao is fully in service again and has been hosting four of my own internal Xen domains as a form of load testing, but I’m now happy enough with it to start putting customers on it. islay is already basically full so all new ones will be going on curacao. There’s about 2.3GiB of available RAM for this; I can increase it by another 1GiB or so but I don’t think it will be necessary.

The Jump rack is looking almost full now; I guess my next UK server won’t be in that one…

I’m also still working out with Matt the details of a possible expansion into the US market.

Good luck Whiskey!

I received a letter from The Retired Greyhound Trust today to let me know that Ringo, the greyhound that I have been sponsoring, has been happily homed in Wales. I make a small monthly contribution to the RGT to help them with the cost of caring for and rehoming abandoned greyhounds. It’s not as rewarding as owning a greyhound myself of course but it’s the best I can do at the present time, and it’s great to hear about “my” greyhound a few times per year. I know there must be several people sponsoring each dog, but I don’t care about that; they need all the help they can get.

WhiskeyNow that Ringo has been homed, I get to sponsor another dog. RGT have chosen Whiskey (racing name: Beat Them Java!) for me and I’m very happy with their choice. He reminds me a lot of my first greyhound pet, Tom. Tom didn’t like other dogs much either. Whiskey’s been at the RGT kennels for four years and realistically because of his lack of tolerance for other animals he will probably stay there for the rest of his life, unless he can be united with someone who has the time and patience to properly care for him.

TomIt’s a real shame because there is no inherent reason why a greyhound cannot get along with other dogs, or even other animals in general. Whiskey will have ended up this way because for the first four years of his life he will have been kept in a cage with no experience of the world other than humans taking him to races. As a result he most likely is bewildered by anything that’s alive and not human-shaped — it’s prey or competition. If someone had been willing to put in the minimum effort then Whiskey could have spent the last four years as a loyal companion and family pet, but instead he’s lucky he hasn’t been euthanised or worse.

Greyhound Data lists Beat Them Java’s pedigree and racing record which is interesting reading — his best time was 365 metres in 28.8 seconds; that’s over 36 miles per hour. It’s sad that the site only exists because of the money involved in the cruel sport of greyhound racing, but then, that’s the only reason why greyhounds exist today also. Still I wish I had known about it when I had Tom.