Kebe's Home Data Center (or f''(Bart's new home server))

A little over a year ago, Bart Smaalders blogged about his new home server. Subsequently Bill built a similarly-configured one. (I thought that he had blogged about his too, but he hadn't.)

I'd been toying with the idea of following in Bill's and Bart's footsteps for some time. A recent influx allowed me to upgrade lots of home technology (including a new Penryn-powered MacBook Pro), and finally allowed me to build out what I like to think of as my home data center. I mention f''(Bart's...) because this box really is the second-derivative of Bart's original box (with Bill's being the first-derivative).

And the starting lineup for this box is:
  • An AMD Opteron Model 185 - I was lucky enough to stumble across one of these. 2 cores of 2.6GHz AMD64 goodness.
  • A Tyan S2866 - I bought the one with two Ethernet ports - one nVidia (nge) and one Broadcom (bge). It has audio too, but I haven't tested it as I've my Macs for such things. It has all of the goodies Bart mentioned, but I \*think\* that the SATA might be native now. (Please comment if you know.)
  • 2GB ECC RAM - with room for two more if need be.
  • A two-port old Intel Pro Ethernet 10/100 - good thing the driver (iprb) for this is now open-source. I'll explain why I need four Ethernet ports in a bit.
  • Two Western Digitial "green" 750GB SATA drives Each drive has 32GB root partitions (yes that's large, until Indiana matures, though, I'll stick with UFS roots), 4 GB swap (for core dumps), and the remaining large areas combine to make one mirrored ZFS pool with ~700 decimal GB of storage.
  • A cheap MSI nVidia 8400GS - It's more than enough to drive my 1920x1200 display.
  • An overkill Antec 850W power supply - obtained for only $100 from the carcass of CompUSA.
  • A Lian Li U60 case - My brother-in-law, who has years in the trenches of PC care, feeding, and repair, recommended Lian Li to me. It has all the space I need and more for drives, and its fan layout is pretty comprehensive. Since this box lives in my office, noise isn't that much of an issue.
  • OpenSolaris build 83 - While I'm pumped about what's going on with Indiana it's still under development, and I want something a bit more stable.

So why four ethernet ports (covering three drivers)? Well, like Indiana, Crossbow is exciting, but not yet integrated into the main OpenSolaris tree. I do, however, very much like the idea of Virtual Network Machines and I'll be using these four ports to build three such machines on this server using prerequisite-to-Crossbow IP Instances. Two ports will form the router zone. The router will also be a firewall, and maybe an IPsec remote-access server too. With Tunnel Reform in place, I can let my or my wife's notebook Macs access our internal home network from any location. One port will be the public web server, and assuming Comcast doesn't screw things up too badly on their business-class install, the new home of The last port will be the internal-server and global-zone/administrative station. All of that ZFS space needs to be accessible from somewhere, right?

I'd like to thank Bart and Bill for the hardware inspiration, and to my friends in OpenSolaris networking for offering up something I can exploit immediately to create my three machines in one OpenSolaris install. I'll keep y'all informed about how things are going.

Nice home setting indeed.
About the need for multiple interfaces, with onnv83 you've got a couple of other alternatives to get by with a signle physical NIC on the system:
1.Use multiple VLANs over the same physical NIC, and assign them to zones with exclusive IP stack. The other nodes in the home network of course need to be configured with the VLAN of the zone they're connecte to on the home server.
2. XVM or Xen has been part of onnv for a few builds. It uses Crossbow vnics under the hood. You could for example have the WAN facing webserver entirely live in a guest domain connected through its vnic carved out the same NIC. One caveat: you need a lotta RAM.

Posted by kais on March 04, 2008 at 03:36 AM EST #


I have no VLAN-capable switches in my house, never mind that I find VLANs undesirable from a traffic separation POV. I trust OUR stuff, but not someone else's. As for xVM/Xen - I only have 2GB RAM, with only 2 more to go until I max out the motherboard. I'll stick with zones.

And when Crossbow does putback, I could get rid of the two iprb ports, but to be honest, since I got 'em, I might as well use 'em.

Posted by Dan McDonald on March 04, 2008 at 05:00 PM EST #

Just wondering, why you think Indiana is less stable? The kernel and userland bits are exactly the same ones used as in the SX\*E builds (well, minus the encumbered ones). The real difference here is the packaging, mostly the installer and IPS.

Posted by Mario Goebbels on March 30, 2008 at 05:10 AM EDT #

Mario - Indiana builds don't get cut every two Nevada builds to my knowlege. SXCE does. (And there is the matter of those pesky encumbered bits...) I should've not mentioned stability and been more clear.

Posted by Dan McDonald on April 01, 2008 at 03:49 AM EDT #

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