Sunday, February 24, 2019

Time for an upgrade

Last evening, at 21:00, my server (marvin) powered off for no reason. Well, it happens. No reason to be worried, right? Well, earlier this morning, at 00:38, it did it again. So it's dying. It's time for an upgrade, anyway... It's using a motherboard I bought in 2010 and an AMD Phenom II X4 CPU that I bought in 2011. I bought an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor, 16GB DDR4 memory, and an MSI X470 Gaming Plus motherboard. It's not going in marvin, though - I don't need that much power for what I'm using it for. No, the new stuff is for arthur, my gaming desktop. Like I did 4 years ago, marvin is getting arthur's old motherboard. In fact, I ended up just sticking marvin's boot drive in arthur's case, since that was much easier that swapping a motherboard, and I don't actually need to run arthur most of the time. The only thing I was using it for most of the time was to watch videos, and I don't need a super powerful CPU and video card for that. In the meantime, I've set up marvin to run X so I can at least do what I've been doing until the new stuff arrives.

I actually like this arrangement because it is more efficient - I don't need to have two power-hungry systems running all the time. A few months ago, I actually tried replacing arthur with the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ that I ended up using in my Volt mod project. The only reason it didn't work is because it struggled to play 1080p videos. I don't know why I didn't think of just using marvin as a media player - it already does so much other stuff, surely it can handle one more task. I may keep arthur turned off more often even after I get it set up.

One complication is the fact that arthur's old motherboard doesn't have a header for a parallel port, which I was using to run my super-old automation system that I built in 2008, using the data pins of the parallel port as 5v GPIO. I could just wire it up to my Arduino, but that would be more than I'm willing to invest in that project. I'd rather build something from scratch than put any more work into it. So I just ordered a PCIe parallel port card. Hopefully, it will work just the way it did before.

I'm also in the process of upgrading marvin to Ubuntu Server 18.04. I've got another (bigger) SSD boot drive that I've installed a clean image of 18.04 onto, and I'm slowly getting services up and running on it using a VM. It's still not ready, though, so I'm still stuck on 14.04 for now. It's going to be EOL soon, though. I definitely understand the upgrade fears - it used to be that I was always eager to try out the latest stuff, even if I had to compile it from source, because fixing it when it broke was an adventure. Now, I want it to just work the same way it always did before.

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