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EagleRock

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Post Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:58 am

Server FAQ

EGB Forums Server FAQ

Okay, so...why do I care?

Well, I figured it might be nice for everyone to know what goes into making these forums. Since I've made the decision to transition the Barracks away from Invision Power Board and onto my own system, people can get an idea of what makes something like this tick. When I get technical on the EGB Thread with other technical users, some people just go :shock: and get confused. So, whether you're techie or not, it's just a bit of info for your enjoyment, take it or leave it.

So this is your own server?

Yep. The server is in my home, and sits a few feet away from me. My home is located in New Jersey, just a couple hours away from the Newgrounds Headquarters in Pennsylvania. I'm working off my own Internet connection, so whenever you visit the page, you're connecting to my house.

What exactly is a server?

Simple. A server is just a computer set up to host, or "serve" something to other computers or devices, the clients. Most professional servers are really beefed-up computers with powerful processors, special error-correcting RAM, and fast hard drives. They'll have redundant parts to keep the machine running, such as two power supplies in case one dies. In this case, my server doesn't have special hardware. It's actually a Dell Inspiron 530 I bought for a really cheap price in 2008, and eventually beefed up with spare parts. I normally hate buying pre-built computers, but the machine was so cheap for the time, I couldn't pass it up.

So it's just a normal computer?

Well, I did upgrade it a bit to make it a bit more stable for server use. For example, I have the machine running on a UPS, which is basically a battery backup. So, if the power goes out, my server will keep running for another 20 minutes or so, and if the battery gets too low, it'll automatically shut down to make sure no data is lost. Also, I have bought and attached a drive enclosure to hold some backup drives, so I'll always have safe backups of all the information.

Does that mean I could make my own server?

Sure! Any computer becomes a server once it start serving out an application. You could even run a web page on your desktop if you set it up. Of course you'd have to keep your computer running 24 hours a day for people to be able to connect to it. Since my server is always running (except when there are issues or I'm working on it), you'll always have access to the forums.

Also, it should be noted that the big thing that makes my server capable of doing what it does is the Linux operating system.

Now what the hell is that?

Linux is an OS just like Microsoft Windows. It is an OS designed in the style of UNIX, which is a server operating system that's been around since the 70's. Linux was made for people to run their own UNIX-style servers, but on their own personal hardware, and with a certain amount of freedom. Also, unlike Windows, it's free to use! So, I get to run a server-grade OS on my own hardware for free! Specifically, the distribution of Linux I'm using is called Debian GNU/Linux. Like I said, it's free to use and modify as you wish, and it's located at http://www.debian.org.

Sounds complicated. Guess I'm not running a server.

To be honest, it is. Linux isn't easy to get used to, especially if you're not tech savvy. However, that's not to say you can't run a server on a Windows OS, such as Windows XP or Windows 7. The only thing to note is that Windows is meant to be user-friendly, and isn't as efficiently coded as Linux, so it runs slower and requires more system resources to work.

Really? How much

Well, for example, let's say you had a computer with 1GB of RAM. With Windows 7, you are basically able to start up the machine, load the Windows OS, and run a program or two in that 1GB. If you start to load more applications, you'll end up using virtual memory and slowing down your machine. So, you can't do much with your 1GB.

With Linux, however, I am able to run a fully-functional graphical interface just like Windows, plus a web server to host my web page and forums, a database for the forums, a Counter-Strike server, a Ventrilo server, an IRC server, a local file server for my network. I usually run in around 600MB of RAM. So I end up getting more out of my system with Linux than I could with Windows.

How much power does your machine have anyway?

Well, here are the specs:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz CPU
4GB DDR-800 RAM
500GB System Drive
750GB Data Drive
1.5TB Mirrored Backup Drive

Why so much storage?

I have a lot of stuff on the computer. I use it all the time inside and outside the network. Also, I back up all of the data on here every night, so I keep multiple copies of the files.

Does this thing have a name?

The name of the server is "delorean." More specifically, the full name is delorean.eagleworld.net. I chose the name because, well, I love Back to the Future. Also, these days, I tend to name my computers after people or things from my favorite movies.

Here's a question. Why did you bother doing this when you had Invision Power Boards to use?

I could answer that in many ways, but I have a few big reasons. First off, I do not like their service at all. Their forums are not as nice as other forum programs out there, and their servers are not too secure. Also, you can't get copies of your posts. They charge you $150 or so just to get a copy of all your posts if you want a backup.

And you can do better?

Well, I won't claim I can keep the server up 24 hours a day, but I can come close. My server usually is up and running for a month straight at a time. Usually I bring the server down for a reboot or some maintenance, but other than that, it's up and running. Also, my backup scheme is pretty strong. The server is backed up daily and can be restored from the snapshot of the previous day.

What happens if your server explodes?

First off, I'd be pretty scared, because I'm usually in the same room as the server... But in that case, the backups are in drive enclosure not tied to the machine. Also, above the system snapshot I take, I also get a backup of the forum database and it's configuration. So, even if Delorean exploded, I have the forum info to put on another server.

Now where the hell are you going to get another server?

Funny you should ask. It just so happens I have a backup server called dodgson. Yes, it's named after the same Dodgson from Jurassic Park and from this YTMND. I actually built it from spare parts after I upgraded my desktop. Here's the specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4Ghz CPU
2GB DDR-800 RAM
500GB Storage

Not as many bells-and-whistles, but plenty powerful to host the forums. Right now, I have it hooked up to the TV in my office to watch DVDs and downloaded movies, but since it also runs Linux, I can easily put the forums on it.

This is all in your office? What the hell does it look like?

Here's a pic of my server desk (click on it to expand it to full size):

photo.jpg
photo.jpg (124.52 KiB) Viewed 34865 times


Delorean is the Dell under the desk. Dodgson is sitting on top of the desk, under the TV. The backup RAID enclosure is the silver box to the right of Dodgson. I use the desk primarily for watching TV, but can use the TV as a monitor when necessary. I also use Delorean as a print server, so I have all my printers stashed on this desk as well.

This FAQ is getting boring. Is there anything else I need to know?

Not really. Just know that since this is just a desktop running in my home, it will have the occasional downtime. However, I will provide everyone with announcements so they know when I'm planning to work on it. Other than that, since I have full control over the forums, you should experience them to be pretty quick, easy to use, and much more secure than the other forums. Also, if you ever have any questions or suggestions about the forums, feel free to post them in the appropriate forum. Enjoy!
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ByteSlinger

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Post Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:08 am

Re: Server FAQ

Nice rigs you have set up there. I needed to take a cold shower after all of that geek talk - you know how that affects me when you talk tech like that! Don't worry - I'm not going to stalk you - I just enjoyed all of those lovely details that made my heart flutter. :lol: :lol:

I can vouch for admins naming their systems in their own styles. All of my systems are named after the Greek and Roman Mythos. My primary laptop is named "Phobos", and my backup laptop is "Deimos". My Windows server is "Vulcan" and my Linux server is "Aries"; my primary developer PC is called "Prometheus", and my gamer rig is "Loki". I have other PCs (spares, rebuilds, backup units) named "Clothos", "Zeus" (old server), "Tisiphone" and "Charon". I make it a point to never re-use a name; if I take a rig, reformat it and reuse it for a different reason, it gets a new identity.

We are such geeks, you and I! 8-)

Good luck with running the BBS. BTW, once you have it up, would you consider someone *cough *cough ME *cough hosting a backup mirror of the BBS in the event you have unforeseen and protracted troubles? Just tryin' to be helpful!
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SlntCobra1

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Post Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:22 am

Re: Server FAQ

It's actually spelled Ares, Byte.

Also, cold shower, FTW!!!
:oops: :oops: ;) ;) :lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by SlntCobra1 on Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
95% of teens would cry if the Jonas brothers were about to jump off of a 10 story building. I'm one of the 5% who would bring popcorn and invite friends.
CLICK MAH SIG!!!!
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Lizzardis

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Post Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:43 am

Re: Server FAQ

ByteSlinger wrote:Nice rigs you have set up there. I needed to take a cold shower after all of that geek talk - you know how that affects me when you talk tech like that! Don't worry - I'm not going to stalk you - I just enjoyed all of those lovely details that made my heart flutter. :lol: :lol:

I agree with the rig set up, I wish that my desk was as tidy as yours, I also wish that my rig was also almost free of wires. While you can't really see my wires due to them being under my desk, I know that they are there and it annoys me that they are... Can't everything just be wireless nowadays? :(

Haha, I mean yeah I have a laptop, but it's SO difficult going from using my desktop with TWO screens, to my laptop, to which of course only has one. It's like... Where can i put iTunes while I post on the BBS? Haha. Minimize it? Pffft. Minimizing is not how I role. I'm hardcore :P

... I think.


ByteSlinger wrote:I can vouch for admins naming their systems in their own styles. All of my systems are named after the Greek and Roman Mythos. My primary laptop is named "Phobos", and my backup laptop is "Deimos". My Windows server is "Vulcan" and my Linux server is "Aries"; my primary developer PC is called "Prometheus", and my gamer rig is "Loki". I have other PCs (spares, rebuilds, backup units) named "Clothos", "Zeus" (old server), "Tisiphone" and "Charon". I make it a point to never re-use a name; if I take a rig, reformat it and reuse it for a different reason, it gets a new identity.

We are such geeks, you and I! 8-)


Thinking about it, I've never even really THOUGHT of naming my rig really, it just does as it should do. Sure I call my laptop a piece of crap now and again, (But shush... It can hear me) but in reality I know it's not. It's just got a bust up screen because of a wiring fault and turn it blue. It's not mine, or the laptop's fault. I've tried to fix it, but HP messed me around, so I gave up.

I should really call my machines names. I'd like to call my iPhone "Posidon"... Because it's always Syncing. Haha, Geddit?

No?

Aww :(


ByteSlinger wrote:Good luck with running the BBS. BTW, once you have it up, would you consider someone *cough *cough ME *cough hosting a backup mirror of the BBS in the event you have unforeseen and protracted troubles? Just tryin' to be helpful!


That would be a very good idea Eagle. I know you're going on about how the security on the last forum was somewhat... Shite. To put it bluntly. I think it would be best if Byte had a back-up / frequent back-up... You know just in case. It's always better to be safe than to be sorry :)

Yes I'm taking your idea of different colours for different quoting parts Byte, okay? It helps me arrange it all.... And it looks cool :P
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Ismael92

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Post Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:37 am

Re: Server FAQ

Lizzardis wrote:
ByteSlinger wrote:Yes I'm taking your idea of different colours for different quoting parts Byte, okay? It helps me arrange it all.... And it looks cool :P


That's not you, Lizzardis! Byte's cookies are controlling your mind! :o
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ByteSlinger

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Post Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:43 am

Re: Server FAQ

And yours as well. Did you know that different colors in a certain sequence can trigger subconscious responses in the minds of young men. As you are reading this, you are getting the extreme urge to go out and buy bags of chocolate chip cookies and a gallon of cold milk, take them home, and watch hours of Star Trek reruns. You will also get the urge to end all of your messages addressed to me with: "As you wish, My Queen"...

As for my rigs and setups - all of them are in very nondescript-looking cases - but looks are deceiving. My gamer box (which I use once in a while) is running Windows 7 Professional on a GigaByte motherboard, with an Intel QuadCore overclocked to 3.33 Ghz, 8 GB of OCZ gamer RAM with a 1066Mhz FSB, Dual Invidia HD-class video cards bridged for 2GB Video Ram, Sound Blaster Extreme surround sound 7.2 audio subsystem, and 3 (three) 1TB Seagate Sata2 Hard drives in a RAID. It is attached to 3 separate monitors, so when I do play my racing games, I have front and side views, or an extended windshield view. I also have modded the case to handle 4 fans, and there are three internal smaller fans as well. When you turn it on, it sounds like a Lear Jet getting ready to take off.

Okay, you can clean the drool of your keyboard now, boys... 8-)
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MwMike

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Post Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:52 pm

Re: Server FAQ

EagleRock wrote:Also, it should be noted that the big thing that makes my server capable of doing what it does is the Linux operating system.


Quick question: Is Debian really an ideal distribution for hosting servers on? From my own experiences, it seems more user-oriented than for servers (for example, using the comparatively simple apt system), although I'm probably wrong. I, personally, am not interested in hosting a server - especially not in the short term - but the only other person I know who hosts a server (excluding Byte, who I'm assuming doesn't use Linux for her server) also uses Debian, and I've never asked the other person about it.

ByteSlinger wrote:Okay, you can clean the drool of your keyboard now, boys... 8-)


Damn, those are quite some specs you have there. Is it even neccasary for all that? How do you afford it? :o
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EagleRock

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Post Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:50 pm

Re: Server FAQ

MwMike wrote:
EagleRock wrote:Also, it should be noted that the big thing that makes my server capable of doing what it does is the Linux operating system.


Quick question: Is Debian really an ideal distribution for hosting servers on? From my own experiences, it seems more user-oriented than for servers (for example, using the comparatively simple apt system), although I'm probably wrong. I, personally, am not interested in hosting a server - especially not in the short term - but the only other person I know who hosts a server (excluding Byte, who I'm assuming doesn't use Linux for her server) also uses Debian, and I've never asked the other person about it.


Well, Debian's distribution goals are to be the "Universal Operating System." In other words, it's an OS that can ideally be used for whatever purpose you wish. In terms of usability, Debian does have a few pitfalls, but the majority of them are on the desktop-side. In my experience, using Debian as a GUI-based desktop is not as polished as other distros (for example, *ugh* Ubuntu). In that regard, Debian is actually better suited for use as a server than as a desktop.

For example, Debian's other claim-to-fame is its rock-hard stability. In the 10 or so years I'm using it, I've never had a Debian server crash on me, and I'm using the testing version of Debian, not even the stable version. The only Debian system that ever crashed on me was my desktop when I installed a buggy Nvidia graphics driver on it. Booting to single-user mode and removing the driver from /etc/X11/xorg.conf, however, fixed the situation immediately. In terms of what makes for a great server, stability is #1.

As far as apt goes, it's intuitive, yes, but that doesn't mean it's not good for servers. Debian has over 20,000 packages in its stock repos (as of lenny, anyway), which means you don't have to go hunting for packages. This makes a system even more stable, as the less non-distro packages you compile and install, the better. In fact, with all I do with my server, I only have two packages installed that are not from Debian's repository: Valve's Half-Life Dedicated Server (for my CS:S server), and my Ventrilo server. From an administrator's perspective, I like that, since these are the only two applications I have on the system that I have to babysit. Every time Debian is updated, everything else updates in concert with each other, so nothing breaks.

In terms of using Debian in a production environment, it has a lot going for it. The only thing it does NOT have going for it is the lack of professional support. Because of this, you won't find many corporations implementing Debian, since you want that support for production servers. Other than that, however, it's a great server distro. If you did ever choose to play around with a server in the future, it's a great place to start.
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ByteSlinger

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Post Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:23 pm

Re: Server FAQ

MwMike wrote:
EagleRock wrote:Also, it should be noted that the big thing that makes my server capable of doing what it does is the Linux operating system.


Quick question: Is Debian really an ideal distribution for hosting servers on? From my own experiences, it seems more user-oriented than for servers (for example, using the comparatively simple apt system), although I'm probably wrong. I, personally, am not interested in hosting a server - especially not in the short term - but the only other person I know who hosts a server (excluding Byte, who I'm assuming doesn't use Linux for her server) also uses Debian, and I've never asked the other person about it.

ByteSlinger wrote:Okay, you can clean the drool of your keyboard now, boys... 8-)


Damn, those are quite some specs you have there. Is it even neccasary for all that? How do you afford it? :o



Well, actually, I do have a small Debian server because some of my clients use Linux, and it's easier for me to develop on my own server than theirs. If I trash my server during a test, oh well. But if I trash the LIVE server - well, that's not going to go over too big with the client. So I make my own sandboxes and play in them. Yay! :D

As for the specs on my gamer box, and how I can afford it: I look at it this way: I have no bad habits per se - don't drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble or party. I'm not a clothes horse, and I live well within my means at home. I drive a 10-year old car, fully paid off, and I only have 4 credit cards to my name - one of which is my check card tied to my savings account. My hobby - which is also part of my livelihood - is to build myself the occasional gamer box, just to see what it can do. Yes, I spent over $2,000 on parts for that bad boy, and I know that in a year, it'll be "ancient history" - but it's my only real vice.

When I finish one gamer box, I'll usually take the prior one and give it to one of my nephews, nieces or other relative who might need a powerful PC. What usually happens is a "double-swap" - one of my nephews will give their PC to a sibling or someone else, and I give the gamer rig to them - for bragging rights.

I've actually started collecting parts for my next rig. Here are the specs (* = have part already)

* ASUS P7P55LX Mobo, LGA1156 socket (core i5/i7 cpu) , Intel Chpset, 8 SATA 3.0GB/s, 14 USB ports, 1600mhz FSB,
* 4 x 4GB OCZ DDR3 / 2200Mhz (16GB RAM)
* 6 x 2TB Western Digital 7200RPM SATA (dual Raid 5 - 2 sets of 3 drives, total usable: 8.4TB disk)

1000 watt Coolmax Power Supply
Dual Radeon HD5870 1GB DDR5 (Bridged, 2GB + 1GB from shared RAM) (supports 4 monitors, HDMI, etc) (2 video cards, again)
Intel Core i7-875K 2.93GHz 8MB CPU (8 processors)
Coolmax 80mm fan/copper fin cooler/heatsink/heatpipe
PCI Express Sound Blaster x-Fi Titanium FATAL1TY Champion Series sound card
TEAC Blu-Ray/DVD Reader/Burner (SATA) drive


I have an old case to put the parts in, but I may splurge and buy a newer/nicer case for this rig - one with more room for cooling fans and better air flow. This may take a few months to finish, as I tend to shop around and procrastinate before I buy things. It's just my hobby, is all....
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MwMike

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Post Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:33 pm

Re: Server FAQ

EagleRock wrote: If you did ever choose to play around with a server in the future, it's a great place to start.


I'll definitely bare that in mind in future, it's hel;ful to speak to someone who definitely seems to know exactly what they're talking about.

ByteSlinger wrote:I've actually started collecting parts for my next rig. Here are the specs



Wow, I can see the benefits of calling you 'Auntie Byte', now. I mean, does that kind of shit even exist? You really do live the extravagant geek life.

Adoption, please.
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ByteSlinger

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Post Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:17 am

Re: Server FAQ

MWMike wrote:
EagleRock wrote: If you did ever choose to play around with a server in the future, it's a great place to start.


I'll definitely bear that in mind in future, it's helpful to speak to someone who definitely seems to know exactly what they're talking about.


Between our Illustrious Leader and me, I think we can just about answer any tech question you may have - and we are always more than happy to help out whenever we get a chance. You're in good hands, trust me! (hehehehe...)

MWMike wrote:
ByteSlinger wrote:I've actually started collecting parts for my next rig. Here are the specs


Wow, I can see the benefits of calling you 'Auntie Byte', now. I mean, does that kind of shit even exist? You really do live the extravagant geek life.

Adoption, please.


Not only does it exist - I just finished putting most of it together. But I made some changes - wound up with a Gigabyte motherboard that uses triple-speed OC RAM, and has room for 24GB (6 slots x 4GB DDR3). I've installed 12GB to start. I've put in 4 (four) 2TB hard drives in a RAID 5 for about 6.2 TB usable space, and I'll be adding another RAID later. I've got one Radeon HD 5870 installed (have to wait a few weeks to buy #2 along with the updated sound card and additional drives), and I put in an Intel i7 950 cpu (8 processors, OC'd to 3.42 Ghz). This beast is named "Titan", as it is the biggest and baddest rig I've built. Like most of the others, it currently sits in a nondescript case - but looks can be deceiving!

I don't live extravagantly (see my prior posts) - this is just a combination of work, hobby and my own personal vice. Other than that, I'm just your regular, run-of-the-mill technogeek who likes playing with toys! :D
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