[clug-talk] OT: Help me pick my hardware

Royce Souther osgnuru at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 08:49:05 PDT 2012

I disagree about /sys and after reading your link I feel I am safe to
remove it from servers. /sys would get a lot of use on a desktop computer
that is constantly having a variety of USB devices plugged in and removed
but on a server where your hardware better not be changing it is not
needed. Unless you have a goofy NIC but in that case I would spend a few
bucks and buy a better quality NIC.

I will find out in a few minutes if I am right or not. I just finised
installing CentOS 6.2 x86_64 on a 4GB USB stick. It only takes up 2GB of
space. I am able to run the full desktop, I am on FF right now typing this
email. XFS packages are installing. I will change my /tmp /sys and /var/log
in a minute.

One thing I though of with this is that a USB booting server will need to
use DHCP client so another system on my network will have to be the DHCP
server. I have that already. I also have a plan so that if the main DHCP
server goes down the USB servers can set their IP staticlly using the last
byte of their MAC as the last byte of their IP. I have done that before and
it works well. Doing this I can dd an image of the USB stick onto my laptop
and use that image to clone as many USB sticks as I like. I am also going
to setup rsync so that the all the packages and changes I make to one of
the servers gets copied to the others.

Using 4GB sticks for now, very cheap from Wal-Mart. I have better quality
ones on the way, 16GB. I will keep the image as 4GB and make the rest of
the stick as swap. I will setup a boot script to see if the rest of the
drive is swap and if not then it will format it as swap. This will make my
images automatically size as I put it on larger and larger sticks. Need
more RAM/swap for xfs_check and xfs_repair, just drop in a bigger stick.

Having lots of fun! Thanks again Dan for the great idea. So simple, I don't
know why I have never heard of this before.

CentOS was a pain to install the USB stick. Had to use a 64bit laptop,
remove all hard drives, at POST insert the target stick first then the
install USB stick that has CentOS installer on it that I made using
Unetbootin. If you have not tried Unetbootin you should, great tool. No
more burning CD's or DVD's.

On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM, Gustin Johnson <gustin at meganerd.ca> wrote:

> On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 6:52 AM, Royce Souther <osgnuru at gmail.com> wrote:
>> /sys should not be needed in a server unless you have a goofy NIC that
>> needs proprietary firmware ROM to work. I remove it from my servers without
>> issue.
> No, leave /sys alone.  A lot more than that happens in /sys.  See the
> following:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sysfs
> /proc does not actually exist on the physical file system. It is a special
>> mount that maps to memory inside the running kernel and lets you see what
>> the kernel is doing but no data is ever written to disk
> /var/log can be redirected to a different log server on the network and
>> that is a good way to find out what happens when the USB / root boot server
>> dies
>> /tmp can be mounted to a RAM disk
>> And with those changes there should be very few write cycles to the USB
>> memory stick and a quality thumb drive it could last many years. You can
>> have a second or even a third USB stick connected to the USB ports and you
>> can use dd and a cron script to once a day keep the other sticks up to date
>> with the main boot stick, no need for RAID1 and IPMI will let you switch if
>> the main stick dies.
>> Thanks for the idea. I am going to try this. I will let you know how it
>> goes.
> If you are looking for a read only server, have a look at voyage linux (
> http://linux.voyage.hk/ ).  This is what I use on CF cards in my embedded
> servers (usually based on PC Engines or Soekris SBCs).  It is a slightly
> customized Debian variant.  Very slim and designed to run on limited write
> media (compact flash, usb flash, SSD, etc).
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Easy, fast GUI development.
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