Upgrade day!

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So, the poor old media server today finally got disassembled. After many years of service a new 4TB disk arrived today which prompted the gutting and rebuilding of the old computer…


The old machine was pretty rammed, two of the four disks wedged in the base of the case and the mainboard itself was using most of the space of the case and sported the things that I haven’t used for a very long time, like serial ports, parallel ports and floppy disk drive connectors… Not that they’re a bad thing, they very definitely can be useful, but on a server that lives in a cupboard, well, they’re less useful than they might be*.


The case itself is also a dated-sign-of-the-times beast, with firewire conveniently accessible (if only I actually had a firewire port on the new board… or the old board…) and space for ranks and ranks of PCI (or ISA bus) cards for things that these days just come on the motherboard.

So for clarity, and so those of you who care will follow, the media server contained four drives. The OS resides on a 1TB drive. The music (and some random bits of video) on a 2TB drive. And the majority of the video is irritatingly spread across 2 other 2TB drives with an arbritrary middle-of-the-alphabet filename based division because I have just over 2TB of data.

Anyhow, my original plan was to connect up the new 4TB drive, copy the stuff across from two of the (three) 2TB drives (the video ones, merging them. Happiness). Then I’d whip out the 1TB drive that current hosts the OS and put a shiny clean install on one of the now free 2TB drives and woot, all would be shiny and well (and there’d be an empty 2TB drive spare). There was, however, a small (tiny) kink in that plan. The old board didn’t have have any more SATA ports. Then I considered playing swap the drives… Y’know, whip out a 2TB drive and swap in the 4TB. The only problem with that is…well, it’d take longer, and the main problem. I’m very, very, lazy.

Then I decided, fuck it, I’ll just chuck in the new 4TB drive, the new hardware, and see if I can run the upgrade process. If I can great, if not it’ll probably work well enough for me to at least copy the stuff across and I can then yank the 1TB drive afterwards and do the fresh install I was pondering.

Yes, I am aware that I am very, very lazy.

I am a bad sysadmin, I know.


I had the usual entertaining time transferring the connectors across (it’s so long since I’ve built a PC I’d forgotten about things like that)… but I seem to have got it so that all the polarities are the right way around. At least it’s not like the machine I built with James back in the day, the i386 we stripped and turned into a 486, I think, which was all individual wires. They even label the connectors on the board now. How nice :)


And after a bit of an ‘engage-brain’ moment realised that the thing does, actually, have three ‘proper’ bays for hard disks (one is the 3.5″ floppy drive bay…doh). And with some careful positioning, a fourth drive can be mounted vertically in the case. If I had some meccano kicking around I could knock up two much, much better mounts. But hey. I’ve now got four drives screwed into the case and the fifth (yes, I’m aware that’s ridiculous) drive is the only one just sat at the bottom. Which is a lot more manageable than the two drives that were sat at the bottom.

It’s now sat attempting to upgrade the system which is, of course, taking a while. It’d probably have taken less long but it’s sat upstairs connected via the old wireless 11Mbps adaptor instead of downstairs where it’s (in)directly plugged into the router. Also, the drive that is being upgraded is the 1TB drive that’s quite definitely the oldest.

If you hear an anguished wail in a few hours that’ll be me discovering that it’s not worked.

* Incidentally I had a look at the other machine** thinking it might have a backplane that was closer to the one I need that I could ‘trim’ to fit, and discovered that it’s got capacitor plague, which is presumably why it died. Also possibly why it was irritatingly unreliable as a camera-monitoring device. I suspect it may be completely dead. Oh, and the backplane was at least as useless as the one that is in the machine I’ve just disassembled.
** And I thought it might have the 3.5″ -> 5.25″ adaptor in it; I’ve no idea where it’s gone…


Kate's a human mostly built out of spite and overcoming transphobia-racism-and-other-bullshit. Although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, it's all good.