Thursday 11 August 2016

A splendid little server

A great big cardboard box arrived today.

A few days ago, I noticed a Dell Poweredge 1950 for sale on Ebay. This is a 1U server, packed solid with wonderful stuff. It was going for a song, so I tuned up my spoons and put in a bid. I got it for £22, including delivery, which must have accounted for half that amount, and it came with a VAT invoice, so that's 20% I can claim back!

The Dell Poweredge is a server I really like. I suppose there are lots of other great servers, but I started off with Dells a month or so ago.

The 1950 is vintage 2007, so it's about 10 years old, and that's a long time for a computer. But it's got two quad-core Xeons running at 2.83 GHz, and that's a high head of steam. Even the very latest Dell R730 has two six-core processors running at 1.6 GHz, so this 10-year old is pretty much the same spec as a computer just out of the door.

It came with 8gb of memory, but this is a "Generation III", so it can take 64gb. I've ordered 64gb off Ebay, £60. It came without any hard drives; the simplest way to make sure that you don't accidentally give away your data when you sell your old computers, is to take out the hard drives. Not a problem, though, one of the hard drives I got with an earlier purchase fitted fine.

One problem, though - there was a plate covering the front with a lock. That stops people removing the hard drives, or powering it off. And there was no key. But a bit of leverage with a stout screwdriver and that was off; it isn't something I'd use anyway. With that off, I was able to insert a 147 gb hard drive, and I then booted Fedora 24 from the DVD. It installed no trouble. I've added a card that lets me attach four sata drives (and I've ordered a couple more cards like that).

Inside the box, there's an Sata port (used for the DVD, but once I've installed Linux, I'm unlikely to use that DVD again), three USB ports and 8 memory slots, each able to take 8gb. There's a huge row of fans, 14 of them, all blowing over the CPUs to take away the heat. I've always had trouble with CPU fans, because when you have one CPU being cooled by one fan, if that fan goes mechanically bad, you have no cooling and a crashed computer. With the way this Dell works, if even two fans go bad, there's still 12 blowing air over the CPUs.

It came with two power supplies; the idea is that you attach each one to a different power source, so if the power goes down, the computer keeps running. Since I only have one power sourse, that doesn't help me, so I took one of the power supplies out and it's a spare on the shelf.

There really are some great bargains to be had on Ebay, especially if you're buying corporate-type equipment, because home users don't want that stuff, and corporates don't buy second hand kit with no support.


  1. Dunno about this server, but if you leave both PSUs in, if one fails, the other should keep the server going until you replace it?

  2. Yes, that's true, but my reaction to a computer failing is to switch in the backup server, then look at what happened to the server that failed.