Two weeks ago I had a realisation that the server I rely on for hosting websites, handling the home security system (future post on that to come) and secure file transfer was running off a 10 year old hard drive. This is what happens when you build Franken-Puter from a bunch of old parts. I opened it up, and sure enough, the assembly date on the hard drive was sometime in 1998. It’s a 10GB drive, which was pretty big (and expensive!) back then. Incidentally, my first computer had a 4MB hard drive. Yes, megabyte. I also disabled a line on the power supply that prevents it from turning on if the voltages are not high enough, which probably wasn’t the best idea. $100 later and I had two of the smallest hard drives I could find (80GB) and a new power supply costing a whopping $12.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the OS to boot from the new drives in a RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration. On Linux with software RAID, you set up an md (multiple disc) device and add the drives to that, then boot off the new md device instead of directly from one of the drives. The problem, that I found out after many hours, is that Ubuntu Desktop edition cannot boot from md devices due to the md device driver being loaded after the OS starts. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem. I had to reformat with Ubuntu Server edition.
I’m happier now that I have a good backup (although it is on site) and that everything is running off a good (though cheap) power supply. Hopefully I’ll get another 10 years out of it!