These are some of my experiences moving my Debian web/mail/backup server from dual core Athlon to Soekris architecture. First of all, the reasons for doing this:
- As said, the dual core was an expensive machine. Not only to buy, which I didn't. I rented it since a couple of years (6+, ok that's a bit more than a couple) from Serverbeach (now Peer1). Before this dual core, I had another machine that I rented with them. Over the years, I spent roughly 6000 Euro just renting these machines. And in the end, I have to give them back. The Soekris is mine to keep for 460 Euro (260 Euro for the machine and 200 for the solid state disk). Plus I pay for the electricity that I use at my new hosting provider. This brings me to the next reason.
- Environmental concerns: the Soekris uses about 10 times less power than the dual core. Besides that, it needs no cooling, since there are no moving parts, while the dual core machine is in an airconditioned server room. No more heating the earth.
- The dual core machine was always idling away, no matter what. Some websites with in total no more than 2500 visitors per day, a mail server for some family domains and related services like backup, DNS serving, spam- and virusfiltering, remote login and secure webmail, it is not all that it is cracked up to be in Microsoftland. The Soekris, on the other hand, is most of the time at a 25-50% load.
Related to the new architecture, I have three remarks, for the time being.
- In order to install the operating system, it was necessary to create a /boot partition because the Soekris could not handle the 32GB disk all in one go.
- The next problem is related to my bind configuration. For over a decade, I used to have 11-digit serial numbers for the config files (YYYYMMDDNNN). On the Soekris, this gave an error when reloading the files:
Jul 1 16:58:15 www named: zone garrels.be/IN: loading from master file /etc/bind/db.garrels.be failed: out of range
Adjusting the serial to use only 10 digits and convincing my secondaries that it was ok to use a lower serial was all it took to solve this problem. After all, you'd need to be a real bummy if you need to change your server config more than 99 times a day...
- The Soekris is a bit slower on the interactive level. It takes a while before I get a prompt after logging in with SSH.
Of course, a remote server is not something you upgrade every day. Well maybe you do, but I don't. I ran updates regularly, but still, I had old versions of just about everything. Moving my old configurations to the new server posed the biggest part of the problems.
- Postgrey seems to be running on port 10023 now instead of 60000: "postfix/smtpd: warning: connect to 127.0.0.1:60000: Connection refused" and "postfix/smtpd: warning: problem talking to server 127.0.0.1:60000: Connection refused".
- I didn't have time yet to upgrade Drupal to 7.something, so I am running 6.22 with PHP5: ": Function ereg() is deprecated in /var/www/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 895" (about a thousand times, but everything seems to run just fine).
- Most of the other problems stemmed from not completely changing the hostnames that I used for testing to the real names, and related to that delays in syncing DNS configurations. Postfix does not like it if /etc/mailname can't be resolved, if you change Drupal config to use www instead of testwww you also need to update your Apache configuration, etc.
Overall, I'm fairly happy that you are now looking at a Soekris-hosted website.
Documentation about installing Debian on Soekris can be foudn here:
Netboot files are here:
Have your pxe server configured to boot from pxelinux.0. In pxelinux.cfg/default, add
serial 0 19200 0
to setup serial connection and to display what is happening. Also, set "prompt 1".
In debian-installer/i386/boot-screens/txt.cfg, check the default install:
menu label ^Install
append vga=normal initrd=debian-installer/i386/initrd.gz -- console=ttyS0,19200 earlyprint=serial,ttyS0,19200
Make the serial connection with the Soekris, type Ctrl+P and then "boot f0" to start installation. The rest is known territory.