A blog named for the muse of Astronomy containing musings by an astronomer

Rebuilding a server for little fun or profit…

Posted on May 31, 2012 by Juan

Well, that sucked.  I had my computer start locking up when severing web pages.  Not a hard lock up, but all the httpd processes would become ‘uninterruptible’ and hang.  Eventually this prevented the server for feeding out webpages and required me to hard reboot (aka, push the power button) on the server to reboot it.

As such, I decided to do some spring cleaning and built up the server from scratch, luckily I had backups of everything.  Steps thus far:

  1. Break up a mirrored and stripped RAID array of four 2TB drives.  Given the mirroring didn’t seem to be getting me much more than having a simple second striped RAID of two 2TB drives as backup, I switched to two 4TB partitions.  Had to copy the data back onto the new RAID setup from the backup drive. Total time: 7 hours for first copy, then 7 more hours to make backup that used to be mirrored.  Net gain: I now have 2GB of additional drive space available, even with the backups.
  2. Backup the old boot drive to a backup partition.  Total time: 5 hours.
  3. Wipe a drive and install OSX Lion Server on it. Total time: 1 hour
  4. Copy user files and Applications from old drive to new boot drive.  Total time: 4 hours (but ran simultaneous to the second copy of the RAID mentioned above).
  5. Set up new server to clone itself to backup every day and let those backups run.  Total time: 3 hours.
  6. Setup new web server, including figuring out how Apple sets up server security certificates.  Total time: 3 hours.

It may seem like a lot of time invested, but really, most of the time has been spent copying data from backups… so I multitask and work on other things on my laptop while that is going on.  The big lesson I take away from this.  Having automatic nightly backups is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to making this kind of changes relatively quickly.  My resistance to making this kind of change would have been much larger if I thought I might lose data and didn’t think I could just switch boot drives and go back to my old set up in case I had screwed things up.

So at this point, I have checked, all my old applications seem to be running and the website is back up.  The only problem I have is that PHP doesn’t seem to be properly loading the SSH2 extension.

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