So it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, my own little piece of the blagosphere. In the beginning I thought I would just use it as a place to put technical stuff (see any of my previous posts), but now I’m thinking about using it for some of the less-technical ramblings of my mind. I’m betting the three of you who visit this site each day won’t really mind. ;-) Read on to read about what my home- / production- / test-environment looks like, and why I made the choices I did.
EDIT 2012-03-15: This is not my current environment. It’s here for historical reasons only.
If you just look at my previous posts, you’d probably think that this site is running on OpenBSD…and you’d be wrong. It started out that way, yes, but I have moved it to Windows Server 2003 (and yeah, I hear your collective groaning). Here’s the story: my main machine for the last three years has been a PowerBook G4 (not Windows, obviously). The computer that was my NAS, DNS, DHCP, LDAP, and Kerberos realm server was CentOS for a long time, and Gentoo before that. My web server was OpenBSD. (I use Google Apps for my email, so I don’t host that internally.) Now, here’s the fun part: I’m actually a Windows Administrator by day. Having all of these other OSes was a great way to “play” when I got off work, but when I wanted to do or try anything Windows-related, I didn’t have a sandbox to play in here at home. This never bothered me much–if I wanted to play around with Microsoft technology, I could do that at work.
Then I got bored one night, and as any of my friends can tell you, this usually means that in the morning none of my machines will have the same OS on them as what they started with.
The CentOS box became a Windows Server 2003 domain controller, running DNS and DHCP services. This server is a homebrew special: a Core2Duo E4700 @ 2.60GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and four disks: one 40GB boot volume and three 160GB disks in a software RAID-5 configuration for network storage; I know that 320GB doesn’t seem like much anymore, but it was all I needed when I first set it up last year. (Side note: I haven’t looked at the issue in depth, but either the disks I have in that machine are slower than Christmas or software RAID-5 on Windows just isn’t as fast as you’d think–and I already think software RAID is slow–but that array is S-L-O-W. I’m betting it’s a mix of both, and I don’t recommend this setup to anyone. Fixing this will be my next “I-got-bored” project.)
Next up, the OpenBSD web server turned itself into a machine running Windows Server 2003, with IIS6 serving up www.thecrosseroads.net, gallery.crosse.org, and www.crosse.org. (This server is a Dell PowerEdge 400SC I got off of eBay last year: current specs are a P4 2.8GHz proc with 4GB RAM and one 120GB SATA drive. It’s been great so far.) The main reason for this was because I wanted a challenge: trying to get Gallery and Wordpress (with WPSuperCache) to run under Windows was a lesson in patience, to say the least–but it was pretty fun. I probably should have documented it here for the curious, but it’s been months since the change and I can’t remember anything I did, unfortunately. The only thing I really remember is that Helicon’s ISAPI Rewrite 3 module for IIS is fantastic–I’m only using the free version, and it has its limitations, but it works very well.
So that pretty much takes care of everything I have at home (it’s a small network, but then it is just me), with the one exception of my router / firewall device. About a year ago now (I think), I went down the Dark path of networking and bought an actual Cisco device (a 1710) to be the router for the apartment. A few months later I went even further and bought a Cisco Aironet 1200 access point. Now, I’m here to tell you that I am NOT a networking guru, so most of the stuff I do (did) with those devices are (were) code upgrades and the occasional foray into trying to learn IOS.
Anyway, the 1710 has two ports: e0 is the WAN interface and is a 10Mbps port, and Fa0 is the 10/100Mbps LAN interface. It worked fine until JMU decided to stop paying for our internet and gave all of us a stipend instead (tax laws, etc.). At this point I got a business contract with Comcast and purchased their 16Mbps service–which the astute among you will probably recognize as being faster than the 1710 can handle. What to do, what to do? OpenBSD to the rescue.
I had an old PIII-750MHz box that did nothing but sit in my closet, so it naturally became my new router / firewall device. It’s currently running OpenBSD 4.4, with pf and rtadvd enabled. (I have a 6to4 tunnel from Hurricane Electric, so I’m dual-stacked internally and externally, I guess.) The only downside is that the PSU in that box is LOUD. The solution? I got bored again, and ordered an alix6b2 single-board-computer from PC Engines, GmbH. I just paid for it yesterday; it was listed as shipped this morning, but I have no idea when it will be here…but I’m excited. I expect I’ll write another post about that little guy whenever I get it working. For the needed CF card I went with a SanDisk Extreme III 4GB model. This is most likely overkill, but I trust SanDisk more than other brands, and I already knew how well this card worked–I purchased the 8GB model for my Canon 50D camera a few weeks ago. Anyway, now I’m just waiting on the ALIX board and enclosure to arrive so I can have more geek fun.
So that’s my network. For the most part, things just run (except when I break them). That’s all for today; look for another post concerning PowerShell and Exchange Labs (part of Microsoft’s Live@edu offering) in the near future, and a write-up about the ALIX when I get that in.