File Server Cooling and Power Refinement

Temporary placement of a fan in front of the internal drive bay resolved the heat problems (which I’ve let run for over a year; stupid me).

When I also had to replace the power supply (it’s suspect in the lockups, not yet proven) I removed the temporary fan (mounted with double-sided tape), and had it come apart in my hands and stop spinning when powered (it was old, it was a test). (Another lockup factor is that it wasn’t getting assigned the right IP address; that made it look like it booted locked, until I logged in from the console.)

And the new modular power supply (200 watts bigger than the old) required me to replace and hence re-route all the power cables. So I messed with the rest of the cables as well (6 flat SATA cables can block some air!).

Temps are back within bounds–but not as good as before, there are two drives up close to 40. Not sure what the difference is from the test state! These darned analog, even physical, things are a lot of trouble.

The order of the gallery is kind of messy. First the photos I uploaded were added in reverse order, and then the light table on which I can drag them to arrange the order is a bit weird, and finally there’s no way short of going into edit mode to see the photo big enough to be sure what it is. So after a while I got annoyed and stopped improving it.

Server Upgrade Chronicles III

Very briefly, since it’s late!

I’ve temporarily given up on getting incremental send/receive working. I’m liking my results with full backups, and have some reason to believe that the next OpenSolaris release will fix the bug I’m seeing, and can’t see how to proceed on that in the short term. With a third backup drive, having just full backups isn’t so limiting, either.

I’ve got the 4x 2.5″ adapter installed in the 5.25″ bay, and the 8 port SATA controller hooked up to it, and two drives in it, and I’ve copied the system rpool to a new pool there called rp2. And am now looking at details of how to finish making that pool bootable, probably involving booting from a livecd to rename it among other things.

Weird problem with the SATA controller—the bracket on the end of the card doesn’t match the cutout in the case. I had to remove the bracket, leaving the card unsupported, which is clearly not viable in the long term with two sets of stiff cables attached to it (right now it’s supported with a bit of gaffer’s tape).

Haven’t looked into booting from the new controller, either; it’s possible I can’t, I suppose, but if so putting both boot disks on the old controller isn’t terribly painful, though it ruins my perfect plan to split every mirror pair across controllers.

There’s also a problem with the bottom left 2.5″ tray, but I’m ignoring that for now since I only need two drives in the 2.5″ bay to finish my upgrade.

Don’t know that it might not be better to install to the new drives from scratch, but there are issues duplicating the configuration down to UIDs and GIDs, which is necessary for the data pool to be accessible to the users when I import it.

Still, all the new hardware seems to be working, which is good.

Server Upgrade Chronicles IIb

Recreated wrack, the USB backup drive with the oldest data on it, using my updated scripts, and started a full backup, also with the updated scripts.  Was running fine when I went to bed.

Seems to be hung when I got up this morning, dammit.  System and pools are responsive, but there’s been no progress and no disk IO since I first checked when I got up. Haven’t tried to kill any processes yet; waiting to see if the zfs-discuss list has any data-gathering suggestions.

This older software version doesn’t support the -p option in zfs send, but that won’t be the cause of the hang; that will simply require me to recreate some key properties manually if I have to restore from backup.

ETA: My detailed report on the zfs-discuss mailing list.

It’s sitting at the same spot after work, after sitting all day.  Offiicially hung.

I wonder what it will take to stop the backup and export the pool?  Well, that’s nice; a straight “kill” terminated the processes, at least.

zpool status shows no errors. zfs list shows backup filesystems mounted.

zpool export -f is running…no disk I/O now…starting to look hung.

Ah, the zfs receive process is still in the process table.  kill -9 doesn’t help.

Kill and kill -9 won’t touch the zpool export process, either.

Pulling the USB cable on the drive doesn’t seem to be helping any either.

zfs list now hangs, but giving it a little longer just in case.

Kill -9 doesn’t touch any of the hung jobs.

Closing the ssh sessions doesn’t touch any of them either.

zfs list on pools other than bup-wrack works. zpool list works, and shows bup-wrack.

Attempting to set failmode=continue gives an I/O error.

Plugging the USB back in and then setting failmode gives the same I/O error.

cfgadm -al lists known disk drives and usb3/9 as “usb-storage connected”. I think that’s the USB disk that’s stuck.

cfgadm -cremove usb3/9 failed “configuration operation not supported”.

cfgadm -cdisconnect usb3/9 queried if I wanted to suspend activity, then failed with “cannot issue devctl to ap_id: /devices/pci@0,0/pci10de,cb84@2,1:9”

Still -al the same.

cfgadm -cunconfigure same error as disconnect.

I was able to list properties on bup-wrack:

bash-3.2$ zpool get all bup-wrack
NAME       PROPERTY       VALUE               SOURCE
bup-wrack  size           928G                -
bup-wrack  used           438G                -
bup-wrack  available      490G                -
bup-wrack  capacity       47%                 -
bup-wrack  altroot        /backups/bup-wrack  local
bup-wrack  health         UNAVAIL             -
bup-wrack  guid           2209605264342513453  default
bup-wrack  version        14                  default
bup-wrack  bootfs         -                   default
bup-wrack  delegation     on                  default
bup-wrack  autoreplace    off                 default
bup-wrack  cachefile      none                local
bup-wrack  failmode       wait                default
bup-wrack  listsnapshots  off                 default

It’s not healthy, alright. And the attempt to set failmode really did fail.

ETA: So I had to reboot.  However, that worked fine, and I recreated the pool, and I ran the same full backup script overnight, and it completed successfully.  Took 392:23, a bit over 6 hours, but it completed. (Something broke the ssh connection, but luckily I had run the backup under screen, so it just got detached and I could reconnect and see what happened. And it was making a log file, anyway.)

There’s a ‘cut’ version error in some of my after-backup processing that I’ll need to fix.

Server Upgrade Chronicles II

Good news in automatic email: a bug I filed is fixed in build 122. Now, it’s a duplicate of another bug that I apparently failed to find, and there’s been an easy workaround all this time (turns out it was a pointer problem in parsing file paths, triggered by not having a “/” at the end of a directory path). This was apparently what was blocking my ability to do incremental backups with ZFS send/receive.

This makes software update key, not that it wasn’t already.

So I have had to re-install Virtualbox (because VMWare player won’t work with virtual machines on my network drive, whereas VirtualBox will), and reinstall Solaris. Then I will learn how to upgrade to various builds, because I’m ashamed to say I don’t know how except to “current”, which may not be the place to be.

Huh; almost looks like there isn’t a way.In future, I can update more often, and keep the old snapshots around. Though that doesn’t give any way to reinstall if what I really need is an old version.

I’m updating a virtual system, to test techniques and such. It’s downloading very slowly, equally slowly in bridged or NAT mode. So it’s not going to be done tonight, which means the testing will be delayed and the actual upgrade thus even more delayed. Well, things take time.

So far, knock on wood, nothing has gone terribly wrong.

ETA: The update (switching to the dev branch) completed overnight, with a number of errors. The new Boot Environment doesn’t come all the way up. No time to check more this morning.

Server Upgrade Chronicles I

The home fileserver is getting an upgrade. It’s reaching 90% full on the current disks, which is really about as far as it’s good to go if you’re going to upgrade (ZFS balances the load better when you add an additional vdev  before the existing vdevs are too full).

Last night was step one (well, maybe step 30; counting all the consideration and research and ordering steps). I installed the memory upgrade, taking it from 1GB to 3GB (and filling all available memory banks), and then upgraded the swap space.

For what I’m afraid will be the last time in this series, I can report that it went completely smoothly.  I remembered how to open the case (on this one, you release the tabs holding the front on at the top, tilt the faceplate down, and that gives you access to the screws holding the side panels), I didn’t break anything while vacuuming out the dust, I figured out which way the memory sticks went in, and they went right in).

Background on This Server

I think this hardware dates to August 2006. It’s running Solaris using the ZFS filesystem (which is why it’s running Solaris).  It’s named “fsfs”, because it’s my redundant fileserver (all the data disks are mirrored).

Chenbro Case
Chenbro case

The hardware is a Chenbro case, actually a 4u rackmount with 8 hot-swap bays, but I’m using it as a tower. It’s very deep, since the bays in front don’t overlap the motherboard at all. ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe motherboard with AMD dual-core processor. That motherboard has 6 SATA ports, so I’m not currently using  two of the hot-swap bays.

Two of the bays are for the system disks (mirrored).  The other 4 constitute the data pool.  Currently this is two mirrored pairs of 400GB disks (two of them free from Sun, when they gave up on using anything that small in the Streaming lab).

While the processor is old, it’s marvelously adequate for what it’s called on to do; and the case was the expensive part. I don’t want to mess with it, and certainly don’t want to buy another hotswap unit at this level. So I’m upgrading this one.

Upgrade Plan

It’s getting new boot drives (2.5″ disks in a new hot-swap bay; you can get a 4-drive 2.5″ hot-swap bay that mounts in a standard 5.25″ bay), a new disk controller to give me 8 more ports, and new boot disks (in the 2.5″ bays, freeing two of the main 3.5″ bays for data disks).

The current plan of operations goes like this:

  1. Upgrade memory (completed)
  2. Update backups
  3. Update software
  4. Update backups
  5. Install 2.5″ hot-swap bay
  6. Install new 2.5″ boot drives
  7. Install new controller
  8. Install software (or transfer existing installation) to new drives
  9. Remove old boot drives
  10. Install a new pair of drives in the data pool
  11. Update backups

The new controller is to be the Supermicro UIO MegaRAID AOC-USAS-L8i. This needs weird expensive cable sets, but with the right ones, it’ll drive 8 SATA drives from something that looks like a SCSI controller to the computer (it’ll also drive SAS drives, handle port expanders, and generally do a lot of stuff, and Solaris supposedly has good drivers for it). This will be my first experience with SAS; we’ll see how exciting that is.

You’ll notice I’ll end up with 12 hot-swap bays (4 2.5″ and 8 3.5″). With 6 SATA ports on the motherboard, this means that I can split each mirrored pair across controllers, meaning that hardware failures and driver bugs can’t take out both sides of the mirror at once.  There are still plenty of other single points of failure, including power surges, higher level software bugs, user error, and so forth; that’s why we still need backups.


ZFS is the “zettabyte filesystem”. It’s a combined volume manager and filesystem, engineered from scratch. And in fact it eliminates all sorts of annoyances, and adds some big features. It was created by a team at Sun Microsystems (now a division of Oracle)

For me, the three big features are:

  • Pool expansion
  • Data checksum and scrub
  • Snapshots

This server  holds my photo archive, including scans of very old stuff. While I may not look at it very often, I do care about it.  I have backups, and can restore if necessary, but a precondition to that is realizing it’s damaged. I could continue making backups and rotating them through storage and not notice a picture got corrupted for years, by which time the last backup that included it would be gone.

ZFS stores a checksum for every block. An operation called “scrubbing” goes through all the blocks and verifies them against their stored checksums. By doing this, I can discover early that something is damaged. If the damage is a disk error, the redundant copy on the mirror drive will be automatically used to fix the problem (if its checksum is correct). If there isn’t a valid copy of the data online it can at least tell me which file is bad, early enough that I should still have a valid backup.  This makes me feel much safer. I think it even makes my data really somewhat safer.

Snapshots are great for keeping the last month or so of changes easily accessible online. Furthermore, I use snapshots on the backup disks too, so on only two backup drives I actually keep several years worth of change history.

Pool expansion lets me add more space without recopying everything. I’ve chosen to use mirrored pairs instead of RAID-5-style parity schemes (RAIDZ, it would be in ZFS). It lets me upgrade disks in smaller chunks (because in addition to adding a vdev to a pool, I can also replace the drives in an existing vdev with larger drives, and have that space become available). I don’t expect to ever have more than 8 hot-swap slots (well, 8 for the big drives I’m using for data), so working in small units, pairs, gives me more flexibility.  I rather expect to stop at 6 data disks (3 pair) and put in a seventh “hot spare” that ZFS can immediately copy data to if something happens to one of the live disks. Using 4-disk RAIDZ vdevs, I would get a higher proportion of the drive space available for use, but I’d have no space for hot spares, and I’d have to replace disks in groups of 4, and I’d have less redundancy and hence more exposure to data loss (luckily I do keep backups).