Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Pasting up a Server

When you change out CPUs you have to remove the CPU heatsinks. The heatsinks are just held on with latched pressure levers. Between the CPU and the heatsink is thermal conduction paste. Now on old servers this will be mostly dried out and not very gooey, easy to wipe away when you remove the old CPU using a little paste dissolver. However, I had an interesting thing happen.

I installed the new CPUs and the new memory in both servers, using new heatsink thermal paste. The paste comes in a little injector looking thing exactly like the barrel end of a hypodermic. The paste is supposed to be for a single CPU install, but let me tell you, there is more than enough in a single applicator for two CPUs. Anyway, I got the new memory and CPUs installed and sealed up the servers and switched them on. Expecting to see that each had 2-quad core servers running at 3.16 Ghtz and 32 GB of memory, imagine my surprise when one showed up with a 2.66 and a 3.16 Ghtz CPU. Yep, they sent me the wrong CPU, and trusting me didn't check out the fine print on the CPU itself so here I am with a freshly installed CPU that was identical to the one I removed. Okay, so I needed to remove the lower speed CPU, call the supplier and get a replacement with the speed I asked for. Easy right? Here is where the fun starts.

Remember that heat transfer paste? Well when it is new, it is extra gooey and it turns out if you use the whole little injector on a single CPU a lot gets squeezed out to the sides making a mess of the CPU pad area and, unless you are very careful, it can easily get onto the CPU install pad itself. The problem is that the CPU install pad is actually a bunch of small hooked wires so you can't wipe the stuff off, you can't brush the stuff off, in fact the only option I can think of (now) would be to completely remove everything from the mother board, get some electronics spray cleaner and have at it. Unfortunately I tried wiping and then using a very fine brush to remove the embedded paper towel and the remaining paste. This resulted in many of those fine little hooked wires becoming fine little out-of-alignment straight wires. Scratch one CPU socket. Luckily Dell 2950s are still fairly available and I was able to order a replacement server for less than $200.00 delivered to my door. The replacement only had one 2 GHtz quad CPU and 4 GB of memory but that wasn't a concern.

So today my new-used server arrived and I gutted my old one to rebuild the new one in its image. Transferring the dual 4 GB HBAs, hard drives and remote access port from the old to the new and installing the just arrived quad 3.66 Ghtz CPU along with the existing one I had from the first attempt and using one of the heatsinks from the first server. Needless to say I was careful with the thermal transfer paste. Now I have two servers with dual Quad 3.66 GHtz CPUs and 32 GB of memory and they are both running Ubuntu 16.04.1-64 bit server software. They are talking to a 5TB mini-SAN through dual 4 GB HBAs. Now on to the Oracle installs!

I also got the replacement controller shield card for the Anet 3-d printer, but, before I install it I have to verify every single connector is set up correctly. There are three sensor cables, 5 motor control cables and 3 axis motion end stop cables that all need to be carefully checked for shorts in the Dupont connectors. Did I mention I hate Dupont connectors?

I also got and installed the green lasers in the 3-d scanner, but need the printer to make some better holders that allow x and y axis calibration of the lasers themselves. Otherwise you get cylinders inside of cylinders and other scans turnout really weird.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Upgrading CPUs and other topics

In addition to adding 16GB of memory by replacing the 16 GB with a 32 GB set in my Dell 2950's I will be installing 4 new E5460 3.16 GHz quad processors to replace the E5345 2.33 GHz processors to boost processing speed. I assume I can reuse the existing heat sinks and just swap out the CPUs. I should have the new CPUs by the 31st and should have the memory upgrades by then as well. I will try to post some pictures of the process when I do it. Once all this is done I should have some powerful Ubuntu servers running 12c Oracle RAC...if not, I will have a bunch of stuff to sell on Ebay!

I am also in the process of learning the ins and outs of 3D scanning and printing using a Ciclops scanner and the ANET A8 DIY 3D Printer. Of course things are not off to an auspicious start. The primitive mounts on the Ciclops for the lasers cause issues with focusing and calibrating the lasers, I hope to have that fixed with some new laser mounts once I get the Printer working. In addition I have ordered some replacement green lasers for the red ones it currently uses. The CMOS in the camera used it much more sensitive to Red and you have fewer scanner issues if you swap out red for green lasers according to the experts.

The ANET A8 DIY printer is whole nother story. I assembled it over the course of two days, then calibrated it, did the bed leveling, checked that the extruder and heated bed worked as they were supposed to and then, not even half-way through the first test print the Mosfet on the control board for the heated bed fried, frying the control board. I have ordered and obtained a RAMPS 1.4 upgrade control board and am now just waiting on the DuPont connectors and Dupont crimper I need to complete the upgrade, at my own cost of course. The reason at my cost is because GearBest, where I bought the printer has crappy support. I have also purchased an upgraded power supply. These are suggested upgrades from long time A8 users.

I contacted GearBest to get a new board since this was literally less than a week since I got the printer. They said I obviously did something wrong and it was my fault so they wouldn't replace it. They offered me a generous 200 points (about 4 USD) for my trouble. This is the second time their support has been shall we say less than stellar. The first time was with a G2 mini-computer I bought from them which was DOA, I immediately notified them of this, they marked the report as "processing". It has been a year since then, and I reminded them to which they said since it had been a year, they couldn't do anything! In short, don't expect good client service from them, they are just a clearing house for cheap Chinese electronics, toys and games.

Well, I will keep you posted on progress.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Going to Ubuntu

Well I was sitting in my home office looking at my servers. I've done that a lot in the last couple of years. Wondering why I was having such difficulty installing Oracle Linux and getting the darn things to be more than room heaters. Admittedly it hasn't been a full time pursuit. Anyway I have decided to install Ubuntu since I could get installation dvds and didn't have to jump through download this, make boot disk that. I have also ordered 32 gig upgrades for both servers. Hopefully I will be able to install Oracle12c RAC and get my cluster up and running. I may also download meshlab and a slicer so I can create files for my 3D printer. Currently times to conver the vertices into faces is extreme on my laptop.

Anyway, will be posting my progress. The