hardware

An excellent Linux dedicated server that won't burn a hole in your pocket

This site certainly has seen it's share of hosting environments. It started on a shared hosting, without even a proper domain name, then later moved among many of the popular virtualization techniques, first VMware server, then KVM and finally Xen (VPS). But, most of that time, it somehow wanted to end on a real hardware, to have a room to breathe, so to say. As my page on the subject of the digg effect clearly shows, there are times when load on the web server increases rapidly, and to survive such sudden rise in interest, it's best to be hosted on a proper dedicated server. Also I remember that the ever popular picture of Linus Torvalds giving thumbs up to Windows 7 OS ate a fair amount of bandwidth in short time.

The problem is, dedicated servers can get really pricey, because you're leasing not only the physical hardware, you also expect the server to be in a properly air-conditioned and secured data center, connected to UPS, have a good network connection and you also expect the hosting company to pay for all those electricity, cooling and networking bills for you. And of course to install the OS for you and to quickly replace any malfunctioning part etc... All this quickly adds up and pricing goes through the roof fast, thus making most of the real (enterprise) servers completely out of the reach from hobby projects like this site. Fortunately, in the last few years, there has been a steady growing market of so called green servers, small and affordable units that are more energy efficient, possibly more densely packed and certainly more affordable, but still giving great performance to those for whom the absolute availability is not the first priority.

How to flash motherboard BIOS from Linux (no DOS/Windows, no floppy drive)?

You've finally made the move to a Windows-free computer, you're enjoying your brand new Linux OS, no trojans/viruses, no slowdown, everything's perfect. Suddenly, you need to update the BIOS on your motherboard to support some new piece of hardware, but typically the motherboard vendor is offering only DOS based BIOS flash utilities. You panic! Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve...

Step 1: Download FreeDOS boot disk floppy image

FreeDOS, a free DOS-compatible operating system, is up to the challenge, no need for proprietary DOS versions. So, all you need is a bootable floppy disk image with FreeDOS kernel on it. We are fortunate that guys at FDOS site have prepared one suitable for us. Use the OEM Bootdisk version, the one with just kernel and command.com, because it leaves more free space on disk for the flash utility and new BIOS image. You can also find a local copy of this image attached at the end of this article. After you download the image, you need to decompress it. In other words:

How fast is your disk?

With a little bit of torturing, and some fun on the way, find out how fast your hard disk drive really is.

Introduction

1-Terabyte hard disk drives are slowly coming to the market, so I suppose we can't complain that we don't have enough space to save (the ever increasing amount of) our precious data. But, it's also a known fact that although disk storage capacities are improving at an impressive rate, disk performance improvements are occurring at a rather slower rate. Unfortunately, larger disk doesn't always mean faster disk. What follows is an explanation of two techniques for measuring disk performance in Linux.

Running Linux on the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard

ASRock 775Dual-VSTAASRock 775Dual-VSTABeing a happy owner of the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard for a week, I decided to share my opinions about it and also give an advice or two to other people thinking about running Linux on it.

In short, this board is an exceptional piece of engineering and Linux runs GREAT on it. I'm not going to list all the specifications of the motherboard, because they're readily available on its official page, but let me go through the interesting features:

  • the board can use both DDR & DDRII memory (but not at the same time!)
  • you can equip it with AGP or PCIe graphics card, your choice
  • there's plenty of connectors for both older ATA or newer SATA drives
  • you can run any LGA 775 processor you can get hands on, including latest Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe core)
  • the board is very affordable (or should I say dirt cheap)
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