March 23rd, 2020


Playing with Hardware

Got about two solid hours of sleep before I realized I wasn't going back to bed. Too much on my mind. So I shuffled down into the server room and began tinkering with several ideas I'd had lately. First, I wanted to build a FreeNAS server. I have these double-walled totes I keep my hardware in. One is filled completely with SCSI cables, another, 80-pin hot-plug SCA hard drives in a variety of sleds, and another one yet filled with a variety of PCB boards. I dug out the only SCSI adapter I have, an ancient Symbios 22802, and untangled a high-density DB68-to-68-pin adapter cable to connect to a 20-year old Sun 711 disk pack.

The disk pack holds six drives, so I pulled a matching set of 73GB 15k drives from their HP sleds, and removed an equal number of 9GB, 18GB, and 36GB drives from their Sun sleds, and swapped them to complete a matched set of drives for the disk pack. Presumably UltraSCSI doesn't require a terminator, but I dug one of those out as well.

Cracking open the largest of the PowerEdge 2950's I discovered its expansion riser was PCIe, and I needed PCIx for the SCSI adapter card. Thankfully the other PowerEdge 2950 is slightly older, and had a PCIx expansion riser in it! Once that was swapped and the Symbios installed, I rebooted the server with the disk pack attached in several combinations but could never get the card to see the drives. Additionally, I lost half of the six drives during the subsequent power cycles as they hadn't been powered on in 15-years. It was only then I checked the FreeNAS matrix, and even if the server had seen the drives, FreeNAS doesn't support the Symbios 22802.

Once I put everything back together I decided to upgrade the RAM in my OpenBSD bastion, an even older Cisco branded DL320. Upgrade might not be the right word, as the RAM I wanted to use was slower (533MHz vs 66&MHz), but significantly more (8GB vs 2GB). I had pulled this ECC RAM from a second, non-working RX2600 HP/UX chassis but despite the two modules being interchangeable, the Cisco server wouldn't boot with it in any combination. I searched for a physical jumper on the motherboard to shunt to no avail.

In all of this, I did find a virtual SAN, specific to our production environment, which runs solely on VMware to emulate SAN connections to virtual servers, so might try that despite the fact I'm not a storage admin. Could be fun.