Sonntag Dez 13, 2009

An OpenSolaris EeePC Homeserver

Early last year I was one of the first to get an original Asus EeePC 4G 701, to be used as an OpenSolaris based mobile presentation and email machine. Well - almost two years later, counting the number of occasions I actually used the machine for that purpose, I decided to convert the EeePC into an intelligent ZFS Storage controller for my home data. So what are my requirements? Actually not that many:
  • 500GB of ZFS secured data, shared via SMB (today) or streamed via DLNA (later), using a 100MBit network
  • Low power consumption
So on to I went and downloaded the latest OpenSolaris build as USB memory stick image. But to my surprise, installation was not possible. OpenSolaris seems to have grown some fat since 2009.06 days, too fat to fit onto the 4GB internal SSD disk. Just before giving up I recalled the website of that EeePC wizard over in Japan, who helped me getting OpenSolaris onto the EeePC in the first place, and I found images customized and pre-compressed for the EeePC. Thanks, Masafumi!

After getting OpenSolaris up and running I went hunting for a USB disk solution able to house two 2.5" drives in one case but without a RAID controller. ZFS is happy with Just A Bunch Of Disks. The IcyBox IB-2221StU-B was the perfect fit. With just 130 Euros additional investment I converted my EeePC to a storage server with 500GB mirrored capacity.

Setting up the data pool, and sharing the file systems was a breeze with help of various available HowTos. Transfer speed to the ZFS mirror is 8-10MByte/sec, which is close to the limit of the 100MBit network, leaving the EeePC's tiny little 630MHz Celeron 50% idle (no dedup or compression so far).

So what about the power consumption? Low enough to be ready for 24/7 operation? Equipped with a high-definition power-meter able to measure with one watt accuracy, I got these values:
  • EeePC, normal operation: 15.7 watts (almost 4 watts already wasted by the power supply...)
  • EeePC, closed lid: 13.4 watts
  • EeePC, closed lid, plus IcyBox with to 500GB 2.5" disks and poer supply: 17.8 watts
  • Above configuration during "zfs scrub": 21 watts
So my OpenSolaris EeePC Homeserver draws between 17-21 watts which translates to 3 euros a month or 8kg CO2 a month, or three liters of gasoline.

Montag Mai 12, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.05 on the Eee PC

Last week at JavaOne, OpenSolaris 2008.05 came out. I already blogged about my neat little Eee PC, which I use for Mail (Thunderbird and extensions), Web (Firefox and extensions) and presenting while on the road. So I decided to give OpenSolaris 2008.05 a try. The 600MB CD image download and burn went quickly. As quickly as attaching a USB CD drive to the Eee PC to boot from. From that on, the path got a little bit more rugged, but nothing insurmountable for the experienced marketeer:

  • First boot from CD looked great, but the EEE PC did not accept any keyboard input when asking for the language! This seems to be a known timing issue (see this bug report on The workaround is to add a "-v" to the end of the GRUB boot command. This can be done at the GRUB boot screen by pressing "e", then "e" again, add "-v" to the end, "return" and "b" for boot. After a successful installation, the "-v" workaround can be added permanently to the file "/rpool/boot/grub/menu.lst". Bonus: A lot messages to marvel at while the machine boots.
  • After a full backup of the Linux system on the Eee PC (using System Rescue CD with partimage to an external USB disk), we can start the OpenSolaris Installation process. Hint: Remove all USB connections not in use (external disk, internal SD card). With that stuff connected, my installation stalled at 84%, with that stuff removed, installation finished sucessfully after 70 minutes.
  • First boot of OpenSolaris from the internal 4GB SSD disk ("-v" still needed, see above) went as expected. Now we add the Eee PC version of the Atheros WLAN driver. Download the package, copy to the Eee PC, install as described, and - WOW - the Network Auto-Magic Deamon detects my Wireless Network and asks for a WPA key. Nice.
  • Now that we have network access, we could give IPS, the shiny new package manager, a try. It even comes with a graphical user interface. Finding OpenOffice 2.4 and hitting "Install" is a matter of three mouse clicks.
  • As with Linux, fonts like Arial are also missing in the OpenSolaris default installation. So we have to copy the missing \*.ttf fonts to this target directory: /usr/X11/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType Copy, restart OpenOffice, and we are done.

  • So now I have a tiny machine with Thunderbird, Firefox and OpenOffice - and OpenSolaris 2008.05 to play with on long train rides.



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