[sf-lug] Rick's explanation of his internet setup.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Jan 2 01:01:29 PST 2006

Quoting jim stockford (jim at well.com):

> * (i had no idea CPUs and motherboards had
> such nicknames.) 

Intel's been doing that for years.  They'll take the inital letter or
two of the _real_ model number and expand it out into some
human-friendly name, which then becomes the nickname.

> I'd like to know what are the
> best choices for CPUs, motherboards, and
> such in the first half of 2006. 

Ja, well, that's the trick, isn't it?  You can garner a big pile of
opinions, and then try to decide which are worth anything.  I have a
vague, fuzzy, and not-necessarily-easily-usable rule of thumb called
Moen's Law of Hardware:  "Use what the programmers use."  More at:

Facile theorising^W^WText at that URL explains the rationale and how
it's been usefully applied in the past.  It's not a by-the-numbers
crystal ball for the near future, though.

If you can find out to compelling levels of certainty what's going to be
great computer hardware for the next few years, don't tell _us_:  Keep
it to yourself and make a fortune.

"Best" implies a single monotonic scale of achievement, which is
obviously a no-go when you realise that different situations demand
different things.  For example, at the moment, I'm so tired of the
soprano whine in my living room[1] that "best" would be something 
_quiet_, small, and power-thrifty, probably light on CPU and with 
relative emphasis on I/O.  I wouldn't give a damn about the video, since 
the box runs headless.

By contrast, a gamer would want something noisy, flashy, and (by my
standards) insanely overpowered in the CPU department, with some gonzo
cutting-edge video chipset that yields the highest possible 3D
framerate.  Probably Nvidia Nforce4-whatever stuff, about which see:
(Nvidia hardware has many impassioned fans, many of them 3D gamers, but 
it is not in general very open-source friendly.)

> SATA is the way to go?

SATA for the plebes and for non-performance-and-integrity-sensitive 
commodity boxes.  Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) for databases and such.

PATA's gone (except as an attachment, for now, for CD/CDR/DVD drives and
old HDs you haven't discarded, yet).  Don't buy _new_ PATA HDs!  That
would be really dumb.

>  How about all-RAM systems?

For tiny, special-purpose embedded applications, sure.  Put the whole
special-purpose OS build into CMOS and/or ROMs, and run it with a
RAMdisk.  Otherwise, sorry, not reasonable in any universe whose sky
colour I know.

> * What are the tradeoffs of do-it-at-your-house
> vs colo (your box lives there) vs web hosting
> (not your box)? 

Oh, you can (and, well, should) figure that one out from just logic and
knowledge of how different situations work.

> The downside of the Uncle Enzo solution
> (and the cheap laptop solution) is that the
> older he gets, the more likely is hardware
> failure.

Well, it's not just that.  The electric draw of a 1998 rackmount 2U 
server is non-trivial, and probably is a significant amount of my PG&E
bill.  The delta between that and the draw from a $50 laptop might 
be recoverable in a couple of months.  (I actually haven't done the
math, so that's a SWAG[2].)

> Once something goes (the drives,
> controller, motherboard...), he's probably
> permanently gone, as the money to
> repair/replace is a bad spend, yes?

Drives are an exception:  I have a big pile of obsolete (but tested)
SCSI drives in the garage.  I also have a couple of spare compatible PSUs.
The rest -- you're right -- except those are the parts that aren't 
failure-prone (except the fan on the PIII and the three 2" case fans).

Absent overheating or power surges, the all-eletronic subassemblies tend
to live almost forever.  It's the mechanical parts that seize up and
commit seppuku.

Mind, you can then get cascading failures if, say, fan bearings fail, 
because you then get heat-induced stress and early death on
this-and-that other part.

[1] No, not Deirdre.  She doesn't whine, and she's an alto, anyway.  
I refer to the PIII rackmount server box.

[2] Silly Wild-Assed Guess.

Rick Moen                      "vi is my shepherd; I shall not font."
rick at linuxmafia.com                               -- Psalm 0.1 beta

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