VOGONS


First post, by JodieC

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About 8-9 years ago, I bought a 32U 4 post rack, and it had three 4u servers in it. I'd gutted two of the servers and repurposed them as homes for Kentsfield Xeon machines, one as a storage server and the other as a VM host.
The old hardware wasn't useful to me and I didn't have much interest for that vintage at the time - Athlon 750, some PIII, etc. The guts were put on a shelf, which was then lost with a fire in my garage (and almost all of my other vintage stuff)
However, going through my shed, I found one of the old black 4U servers and opened it up. Socket 370, 512MB RAM, some garbage PCI video card, garbage NIC, and a sound card. No drives, they didn't come with those when I bought them.

Well, let's get to work. I can relive my teenage PC, but with much better hardware. 🤣

It wouldn't POST, and I got some tips on that, but honestly I didn't trust the PSU anyway. I ordered another one, and I ordered another video card from eBay.

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Last edited by JodieC on 2018-10-29, 01:03. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 12, by JodieC

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Got some good stuff in the mail today!

Old and busted

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Removed

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New hotness

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And what is this?!

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($12 GF2 GTS 32MB from eBay)

But what happens when I hit the power?!

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Hey, it's a 1GHz?! Sweet! I had no idea. One of the best PIIIs for ca. 2000!

I'm excited now. I need some storage and get this thing to installing Winders. Maybe I'll find a way to boot it from my storage server via iSCSI or something.

Reply 2 of 12, by JodieC

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So back to my earlier comment about storage.

Yesterday I ordered an Intel Pro 1000 GT. Why on earth did I choose this?
Firstly, it seems to support ROM burning with gPXE very well. I plan to ISCSI Boot Windows XP (I know, late 2001, but I'm not being purist at the moment), since XP seems to be the first OS where this is possible.

I plan to go ahead and max out the RAM available to the system. This board should be able to accommodate another 256MB of RAM and there's plenty on eBay under $10. I'd almost like to go back across the three slots with 133MHz CL2, but that stuff costs money! CL3 will have to do. I don't even know what the other 2 DIMMs are right now - they aren't identical, that's for sure.

I don't see a lot of benefit in investing heavily in I/O on the vintage platform, so iSCSI connects me back to my storage server with SSDs and terabytes of space. Plus, I can easily snapshot and other fun stuff that's a lot more difficult on XP than ZFS.
I looked up the block diagram for the Pro133 chipset and there's only two I/O paths out of the NB (other than memory) - AGP 4x and PCI 32/33. (I know the SS is from 133A but it's the same on 133)

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I imagine that a GbE card with iSCSI is going to slam the NB PCI bus anyway if I/O is chooching along, so other than maxing out the RAM to maybe reduce read hits, I don't have a lot of other means to increase I/O performance that I know of. Welcome to your opinions on this.

Reply 3 of 12, by mrau

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xp might be slow on this, but maybe the iscsi magic will handle;
can You describe the iscsi solution in some more detail? both client and server, please
i understand it would hold your windows profile?

Reply 4 of 12, by JodieC

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mrau wrote:

xp might be slow on this, but maybe the iscsi magic will handle;
can You describe the iscsi solution in some more detail? both client and server, please
i understand it would hold your windows profile?

If XP is too slow, I guess I can always put in a local disk and run something. I do have a 10GB IDE disk somewhere around here, and I kept it, so I must have tested it.

The iSCSI solution is basically using the built-in XP iSCSI initiator to boot from a target on Linux ZFS. You have to get enough machine running to hit the boot sectors on the iSCSI volume, and that's where gPXE is handy.
You can either have the client PXE boot into GPXE or flash GPXE onto your NIC's ROM and set variables.

http://chee-yang.blogspot.com/2012/04/install … csi-target.html

Reply 5 of 12, by xjas

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Nice build! I have the same rackmount case, it looks roomy inside but I find it surprisingly limited in some ways. I had to bodge an extra mount in (between the front of the PSU and the drive cage, on the "wall") just to fit a 3rd hard drive.

Mine came with a dual-Tualatin board in it, which I should have kept & tried to fix even though it died. 🙁 It has my quad-core Xeon workstation in it now.

PS: please dust the front panel. 😜

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 6 of 12, by JodieC

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My Intel Pro/1000 GT came in right as I had to work a lot of overtime at work, so I had to wait to get XP installed.

So the fun part. I really, really didn't want to burn a CD of XP. But making the Unattended boot system work didn't seem to pan out, and I wasn't very interested in setting up RIS. I found a spindle of CDs in my shed, and now I had some working media to go with my COA.

And basically the process for XP to iSCSI goes

  1. <XP> Install to HDD
  2. <XP> Install iSCSI initiator
  3. <XP> Install iSCSI Sanboot Thinger
  4. <Wherever> Copy image from HDD to storage server
  5. <SAN> Set up storage server stuff
  6. <XP> Boot from IPXE

Welp, let's get started I guess. I really wish I had taken the time to document the sources I used for this, but I'll probably go back through and do a writeup of this for my own documentation and benefit as well, so I'll hit that later. I had netboot.xyz set up on my network from a long time ago, so that was super handy here, as anything that tries to boot PXE on my network will take the netboot.xyz and run - which means they also get IPXE, and all I have to do is chain load the iSCSI definition for them to boot. Ta-da.

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It's working! I had my 8yo son do all of the install while I did a right-seat.
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And the moment I was waiting for! This was much faster than the local disk...
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I tried dusting it off with a feather duster but I'm afraid it's going to need a couple of wet rags or something, sorry xjas!

Now that it can live on iSCSI, I removed the HDD and buttoned it back up.

Reply 7 of 12, by JodieC

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Really brief notes on all the IPXE ISCSI stuff:

On my file server "filer", I have a small web server, so when I boot the netboot.xyz menu, I just tell it to drop me back to an ipxe shell and run

The chain file, which contains simply

#!ipxe
set initiator-iqn iqn.2018-10.localdomain.sfv:albatross
sanboot iscsi:10.0.0.34:1:::iqn.2018-10.localdomain:filer.albatross

The LIO configuration on my "filer" is basically per this tutorial:
https://www.server-world.info/en/note?os=Ubun … .04&p=iscsi&f=1

The albatross disk image is a file on a jbod zpool right now (called eatmydata, in warning). After I got the image transferred, I took a snapshot of the zfs fs holding the iscsi disk image.

Reply 9 of 12, by chinny22

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very cool!
Installing all my PC's off the network is on my to do list, towards the bottom.
never thought about diskless retro machines though....interesting....

Reply 10 of 12, by JodieC

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So, I was running out of ways to get XP to activate. I tried every COA I have in my binder, but so many of them didn't even work (S letters in the COA wouldn't type in, etc). I eventually gave up and did a reg change to tell it not to complain.

I've been installing my games from old CDs and GOG copies.

I'm running some disk benchmarks to gauge the performance of this iSCSI setup - the thing is sourced from a stripe of two Seagate 3TBs right now, so it can't be that fast. Plus not having DMA... I'm not expecting a whole lot. iSCSI is convenience, mainly, not really performance.
Benches seem to reflect it:

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CPU usage is pretty high during that time, though...

Compared to single disk in 2000:

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I might get an SB Live! for the build, since you can grab some for <$10, and a remote power switch for $8 so I can have all ports and controls out the back. I'm not sure what else I'll add but I'm pretty happy so far, it's a fun build.

Reply 11 of 12, by JodieC

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Just going to tease something here that I've recently begun tinkering with. 😀

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Reply 12 of 12, by JodieC

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I reworked the FreeBSD PSCSI emulation using the CTL tools in FreeBSD.
The storage block device is emulated via PSCSI through the Adaptec 39160s on each end.

This seems much, much, much more robust and reliable than the scsi_target userland example. Doesn't hurt when it's decent for speed.

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