Server Novo

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Novo is our local computer server at Little House. It is complemented by our virtual server that hosts our mailing list, wiki, etc.

It runs various services to help with the happy and productive making and doing things. It was setup in a similar fashion to the old system Neo which was documented here.

Websites hosted on Novo

Technical Services

  • dnsmasq flexible and lightweight service bound to the RML system imaging network providing:
    • TFTP (for PXE booting support) content served out of /tftpboot
    • DHCP & DNS (for basic repo caching and updating and TFTP server definitions)
    • DNS redirection for OS installs (local cached mirrors of Linux/OSS archives)
  • File Serving Protocols Served:
    • NFSv3 (for file sharing and Linux/UNIX OS installations)
    • SMB2/SMB3 (for file sharing and transfers)
  • HTTP (via apache for file transfers and web serving) using Apache 2.4 (LetsEncrypt-enabled for SSL enablement)
  • https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SquidDebProxy squid-deb-proxy] for accelerated operating system installations and updates by caching packages locally (just use avahi to auto-discover the squid proxy by typing in sudo apt-get install squid-deb-proxy-client) To test, type in /usr/share/squid-deb-proxy-client/apt-avahi-discover to see a http proxy URL.
  • Minetest (Minecraft-like) Services
  • Future dreams: OpenLDAP for membership account management and device enablement

Hardware Information & Background

A local company donated a Dell PowerEdge R210 II to RML amongst other items. This 2012-era system is a great general purpose server for RML.

This does everything Neo was doing (web pages, minecraft test serving, django, Linux serving) plus act as a file server / PXE network boot & OS install server for systems in Little House. Doing this means we can install Linux on one or more systems via the network at gigabit speeds rather than the download speed via the DSL connection

The system was originally configured like this.

Current configuration:

  • Quad-core Xeon E3-1220v2 Processor
  • 32 GB DIMM (4 out of 4 slots used) - Thanks to Kris for the memory upgrade as it was originally 8GB!
  • 256GB Crucial M500 SSD (Ryan donation)
  • Software RAID-1 configured from Two 500GB HGST SATA Hard Drives (Ryan donation)
  • 16X DVD-RW Drive (useful if we occasionally want to write a boot disc and no other system is available)
  • Dual gigabit connectivity (perhaps we have one default interface for Internet services and the other interface dedicated to netboot services in Little House)

Comparing against the older server Neo:

System CPU Memory Networking Storage Expandability Form-factor
Novo Quad Core Xeon E3 32GB 2x 1000 Megabit 6x SATA3 Ports 32GB memory 1U Rack-mount server
Neo Single Core P4 2GB 1x 100 Megabit 4x SATA2 Ports 4GB memory Mini-tower workstation

Suggested hardware/software configuration

  • OS considerations
    • Debian Linux (Jessie 8.3) - x86-64 version - this ended up being the easiest in migrating packages / retaining compatibility with the earlier neo Debian system.
    • OpenBSD very secure UNIX-like operating system - not particularly user-friendly compared to popular Linux distros, would be OK if we weren't upgrading or not needing consistency from neo
    • Trisquel Linux fully free OS. Debian/Ubuntu derivative removing proprietary binary blobs - unfortunately no ethernet driver for the server and therefore unusable on this hardware - would be OK if we weren't upgrading or not needing consistency from neo
  • Upgrade memory to 16GB or 32GB memory (We need more memory if we consider ZFS RAID) - No appropriate RAM was found in the RML storage boxes.
  • Possibly setup some VMs / VPs 'sandboxes' for people to play with. Some of Andrés' 'learning the system' notes: Andres_Server_Playground

Login greeting (/etc/motd)

   /\_/\
 ( o.o )    WELCOME TO SERVER NOVO @ LITTLEHOUSE (in the Office)
  m   m     http://wiki.richmondmakerlabs.uk/index.php?title=Server_Novo 

  NOVO THINGS:
  * Better HDD's for SW RAID1 (Noticed a fault) * Minetest-server setup
  * dnsmasq DNS/DHCP/TFTP setup needs to be configured for netbooting, etc.
  * Swap 1TB SN WCASJ0642315 with a spare (it had a couple of corrected errors)

  COOL THINGS: 
  * Various OS Install ISO images downloaded to /tftpboot/isos
  * Wake-on-LAN for workstation management (package installs/updates) enabled
     - 'sudo etherwake 10:60:4b:7b:ea:91' wakes up the small (Intel i3) HP PC
  * Network PXE Boot / Multi-OS Install Infrastructure build-out underway! 
  * Local OS Install & Update Mirrors to be built. (Will we need a bigger SSD?)

  SSH TO NEO: Just type "ssh neo" and you're back in the old system (for now)!