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Running a Web Server on the Averatec 3120V - Long-Term Report

Six months ago, my server got hacked. I found an ircbot running as an apache process. I took the server off line as soon as I noticed the hack. The next step is to put a spare server into place and run forensics on the hacked server. That is when I remembered that swapping two desktop computers is a pain. And I want to do my forensics away from my home office; lugging a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse is ever more painful.

It occurred to me that today's notebook is plenty fast and fairly inexpensive. I happen to have an Averatec 3120V slim notebook that I could use. Although several years old, the Averatec 3120V actually has a faster CPU and more memory than the desktop server. When I first put it into service, it performed well. Operation completes much quicker. And my office was quiet like deep forest for once. The original 30 GB hard drive had more space than my server needed. The only problem is that every few days, the hard disk would trash continuously. Linux would lock it as read-only. And I'd have to reboot the server. It appears that the disk would failure on a MySQL operation.

I suspected that the hard disk is getting old. I certainly hope it's not anything else. But I knew that the hard drive is starting fail. When I tilted the laptop in different directions, the hard drive would make different sounds. In one direction the hard drive would make a high pitch metallic noise. It almost sounds like the head dragging softly on the platter.

So after reinstalling everything on the desktop server, I put it back in service. The noise level was so high that I vowed to put the laptop back in service after replacing the drive. Well, I did replace it with a 40 GB drive out of the Olympus S-HD-100 soon after. But Halloween was coming up. Thanksgiving was soon after. Then came Christmas and New Years.

Finally, I swapped in the notebook in as the server again after the New Year. It's been running for over a week now. No problems yet. My home office is quieter than ever. I hope this notebook server exercise will last for a long time to come. I will keep you posted.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 12 Jan 2007 03:09:47 -0800

The 40 GB hard drive crashed on the notebook server today. It's only been three months . . . Is it just a bad drive? Or notebook drive simply can't handle the 24/7 work-load?

I rebooted the system a few time. The first twice, it made a freaky noise and wouldn't boot. The third time, it made a strange noise and spun noisely. After tilting the notebook a few times, the noise went away. Right now, the server is up and running. And I've already copied all the data to the secondary desktop server. I will run with a the secondary server for a week or so, while the notebook server is being fixed.

I bought a brand new notebook drive this time around. We'll see how long it lasts. And see if notebooks are really sufficient for server duty or not.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 20 Apr 2007 22:10:03 -0700

The server is now running on the spare desktop computer. i replaced the hard drive in the notebook and turned it on. it made a huge screeching noise like yesterday. so now i suspect it might not be the hard drive. it might be the CPU Fan instead. i am going to dig through the log and see. will keep you posted.

Chieh Cheng
Sat, 21 Apr 2007 10:13:54 -0700

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