I just finished upgrading the hardware that runs this blog. Everything tests okay, and the logs look clean, but major upgrades always make me nervous.

As I’ve mentioned before, this site was running on a 700 MHz Athlon for years. That worked fine when there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic, but I’ve kept adding new services and sites over the years, and it all adds up eventually. The poor little Athlon has been running for 42 days since it’s last reboot, and it’s averaged nearly 50% CPU utilization the entire time.

Unfortunately, the very thing that makes it slow also makes it hard to upgrade–the poor little system runs a dozen websites, acts as my home router, runs Asterisk, and handles email for at least three domains. It’s been up and running since May of 2000, so there are probably minor services that I’ve completely forgotten about over the years. Frankly, if someone handed me this as a project at work and said “fix it,” I’d probably run screaming.

I have a three-phase plan for fixing things:

  1. Outsource as much as possible. For instance, I’ve stopped using my local IMAP mail server and switched to Google Apps for Your Domain. I still have SMTP and mailing lists running locally, but they’re a lot easier to maintain.
  2. Move each service on the old system onto its own Xen virtual machine on a new Athlon X2 3800+ system. This should be a bit easier to maintain then just lumping everything onto one single Linux system, and it has 6x the CPU power and 4x the RAM of the old system.
  3. Once everything is migrated, all that will be left on the old system is routing and my firewall. I’ll migrate that onto something less power-hungry; I’m not sure what yet.

At of about a half hour ago, this blog is now running on the new system. It should be substantially faster then before, especially since it currently has the entire X2 to itself. I’m planning on upgrading it to the Typo trunk in a few days, but I don’t like making too many upgrades all at once.

Update: Well that was fun. I’ve had the new box running quietly under a desk for over a month without problems. A couple hours after I move traffic onto it, one of the hard drives failed, killing the system. I’m not quite sure how that happened–it’s running RAID 1. Even better, Xen’s network configuration script only works correctly for me on every second boot. Some days I just love computers.