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What to do with 2 old servers?

SeñorAmorSeñorAmor !!!Registered User regular
edited February 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
[Server 1]
We've been migrating some stuff onto newer computers here at work, and I find myself not able to figure out what to do with an old server.

It has dual Xeons, 1GB of ram, and I have umpteen millions of old IDE drives I can toss in the thing for storage. Unfortunately, I can't figure what to use this thing for. We have an older router that I plan to upgrade, but this box is way overkill for that. Likewise, this box is "too good" to replace our DNS/DHCP server, and I have plans to build a new rig with newer parts to replace our aging webserver.

[Server 2]
I have a 2k3 Standard server with a five-client license also with no idea what to do with it. I was thinking maybe a Terminal Services server as I'm not too familiar with it but would love to learn.

[Extra question]
The servers in question are in a 4U and 1U case, respectively. I dug out an older 42U rack and plan to use it but it has no rails to support the cases. Any suggestions on where I can buy some new rails?

Thanks in advance. :)

SeñorAmor on

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    DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    For your dual xeon machine, why not set it up as an Intranet server? Put on it:
    • Debian or Ubuntu Server LTS
    • Apache 2
    • Subversion
    • Trac (or MediaWiki, see below)
    • Maybe SquirrelMail if your company doesn't already have Webmail and does have VPN access.
    • You could also set up some nice internal VOIP stuff with the right hardware. Nowadays you can get some wonderful little boxes that you put in between the wall and your work phone. You can set them up to answer your phone for you, collect voicemail, store that for later retrieval or email your voicemails to you.

    Note that although Subversion and Trac are primarily used by software developers, they are great for any sort of project-scale document and file management. Subversion gives you a repository, with history, of all the documents related to a project, and also serves as a de-facto backup. Although Trac is mostly thought of as a bug/issue tracker (which it is), it is more generally a Wiki that is hooked up to your Subversion repository. Trac gives you a web interface to your subversion repository, as well as a complete Wiki system so you can create pages very fast. The Trac Wiki syntax is clean, and you can very easily create links to documents in your subversion repository - and, of course, specific versions of those documents). Plus you can use it as an issue tracker.

    We've had such servers at the last two places I've worked and they're a real godsend. Once you get used to the tiny bit of overhead of using Subversion, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. It's an indispensable collaborative tool and it creates minimal changes in your daily workflow. I've used such a server on many, many projects - software projects, web sites, and even a full-length book written in Word.

    DrFrylock on
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    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    SeñorAmor wrote: »
    We've been migrating some stuff onto newer computers here at work, and I find myself not able to figure out what to do with an old server.
    Well, what does your company need in terms of IT infrastructure? There are lots of things you could do with a such a system. Here are some ideas I can think of, but which is most valuable depends on what you need and what your business is:

    - Two servers? Have any server-based application that needs guaranteed uptime, even in the face of a system failure? Make a cluster! I used two spare servers to build a firewall/router with stateful failover using OpenBSD, pf, and CARP. You could do something similar under Linux using Heartbeat, but there's no such thing as stateful iptables failover, at least that I'm aware of. Windows also has a cluster implementation, but I find it rather hateful. I worked on a turnkey system where our cluster option was two Windows servers in a basic active/passive failover arrangement. I can't count the number of times the cluster service freaked out and started bouncing back and forth between nodes, essentially fucking shit up for our customers.

    - How about virtualization? Running a VMWare server on either box could be useful, especially if you have a lot of projects that could use a discrete OS for testing, but you don't want to have to build a separate box for each one. You can tuck away clean images stored as VMWare disk files. Need a new system? Just copy the clean images to a new file and mount them as a new VM. Virtualization is kind of the hot new thing right now, VMWare experience would probably look good on your resume.

    - There's also Terminal Services, as you've already mentioned. TS is great when you need remote connectivity but don't need to interact with the desktop. It's also great when you have a system that you want multiple people to be able to use simultaneously, without a client application installed on their local systems. But you need something on that box that people need and can't access some other way, or it's kinda pointless.
    SeñorAmor wrote: »
    [Extra question]
    The servers in question are in a 4U and 1U case, respectively. I dug out an older 42U rack and plan to use it but it has no rails to support the cases. Any suggestions on where I can buy some new rails?

    Thanks in advance. :)
    There are lots of places online that sell rails. Where does your IT shop normally buy from? Search and/or ask for rail kits. Hopefully you'll get a list something like this. Note, I have no idea if that site is any good, I just did some quick googling and saw that they had lots of rail kits. And that's what you need, rail kits. Note that the kit has to be compatible with your system (usually by vendor and/or model) and with your rack (which usually means, is your rack square-hole or round-hole?).

    vonPoonBurGer on
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    TrentusTrentus Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Well, if there isn't any foreseeable use for it\them in the near future, maybe you could donate them to a public school.

    I used to work at a public school in australia, and a lot of our servers were old PII and PIII desktops that were lucky to have 512mb of ram. Last year we managed to get a quadcore xeon with 4 gig of ram, room for 12 hotswappable drives, and another 12 drive enclosure, and all for free. It was ex commonwealth games equipment. We also managed to get a dozen desktop machines for another school.

    I'm sure there'd be other schools who's infrastructure is in need of an upgrade, but who don't have the money to do so. I know we'd have jumped at the chance to get servers like these, especially if they were cheap, or free.

    Trentus on
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    supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Reformat them, patch the OS now and then, and just keep them around for testing new apps or emergency boxes in case something else breaks.

    supabeast on
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