How goes that home data center?Posted: November 7, 2014
So, last time around, I was using an old ASUS EeeBox pc as a proxy server. That was actually working pretty well, to the point where I had forgotten that it was even running. That’s an interesting lesson in how easy it is to forget any agregious thing that anyone does to your technology behind your back. Eventually you’ll forget about it.
All was well until… the thunder/lightning/wind storm. The house experienced several black/brown outs over the course of a couple of hours. During the first blackout, most of the electronics in the house simply shut down, and didn’t come back when the power did (requiring manual resets). The EeeBox probably took one shot too many, and in the end simply would not boot up. Not even getting to the Bios post screen. So much for that. Of course, at a couple hundred dollars, not too big a loss, compared to losing a workstation say, but the proxy experiment came to an abrupt end.
I have another EeeBox sitting right next to it, and I can similarly build it up with ArchLinux, but I take a pause here and consider.
The Asus router lived through the same storm, and didn’t skip a beat. The Synology NAS box faired similarly. With it’s redundant power supplies, and forever spinning disks, nothing keeps that spinning rust offline for long. But, this consumer grade repurposed PC, not so much.
I think for the home data center to work, the hardware needs to be be carefully selected for robustness. It needs the kind of robustness you get out of your tv, or NAS box, or cable box, or router, or whatever. They work most of the time, with a failure every few years, at which time you replace the thing with the latest and greatest, and move along your merry way. For this case of the proxy server, I think there are two options. Rely on the proxy capabilities built into the router, or the NAS box, or create a custom proxy box which has better reliability. Going the router of relying on an already reliable piece of equipment is a no brainer, so I’ll ignore that. What will it take to build a proxy box that is reliable, and doesn’t cost more than a standard home PC?
I’m not sure, but now I’m thinking about it. The base might start with a piece of kit that already does most of what I want. The WrtNode, for example, is in fact a router core, but you can add stuff to it. Since I like Odroid though, that might be an interesting core to start from because it can deal with some standard Pc peripherals. The question is whether the core is robust enough, or can be easily made so.
For now, I’m back into the research phase. I have another EeeBox, and another similar box (Inspire), so more little boxen to fry.
I might also move the kit to the garage where it can be closest to the electrical and the cable coming in from the street. Then I’ll have a better chance of controlling the quality of the electrical line, including robust backup for all the sensitive little bits.
And so it goes.