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Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server 281

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mine-bitcoins-while-heating-your-home dept.
vikingpower writes "Today, I decided to acquire a refurbished Sun Fire V1280 server, with 8 CPUs. The machine will soon or may already belong to a certain history of computing. This project is not about high-performance computing, much more about lovingly dusting off and maintaining a piece of hardware considered quirky by 2013 standards. And Now the question creeps to mind: what software would Slashdotters run on such a beast, once it is upgraded to 12 procs and, say, 24 GiB of RAM ?"
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Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:15PM (#42867969)

    It doesn't seem too long ago 8 Ultrasparcs and 12GB of RAM was the shit. It must really hurt to pull that invoice from 2005 out...

  • Re:Keep it Vintage (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:25PM (#42868049) Homepage

    This thing ain't vintage. It's just old.

    Hang on to it for 10 years. Then it might be vintage.

  • OS? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CapeBretonBarbarian (512565) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:36PM (#42868117)

    For OS I personally would stay in the Solaris realm. I'd try out the the open source Ilumos/Opendiana based distribution that Martin Bochnig has been working on :

    Speaking of labours of love, Martin's one man effort to port the open source fork of Solaris back to the SPARC platform would be a good fit.

  • Re:Good question! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:42PM (#42868157)

    Any of the OpenSolaris forks would run fine.

  • by CapeBretonBarbarian (512565) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:44PM (#42868173)

    There is a port of open source Illumos / Opendiana that should work on this hardware :

    Solaris 11 will not work on this hardware, but sxce should work.

  • Needs lots of power (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:52PM (#42868221)

    Hope you don't pay much for your electricity, fully populated and busy, that server is going to draw around 3000W [] of power.

    With that power draw, if you're paying $0.12/KWh for electricity, it would cost around $250/month to keep it powered, not including cooling costs.

  • by decora (1710862) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:57PM (#42868255) Journal

    they will stick Debian on it and people will use it to port free software.

    they do have a sunfire but it's almost out of disk space and there are tons of people using it already.

  • Re:seconed debian (Score:5, Informative)

    by puregen1us (648116) <alex@ a l e x w a s s e r> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:08AM (#42868303)

    At the moment we're fighting to remove all the legacy Sun systems from our datacenters, and love the chance to remove these old machines.

    They're rock solid, and do a great job. Our databases still run very very well on them, frequently more stabily than newer X86 kit they're being replaced with.


    1) Power usage is insane. The datacenter team reported the larger boxes (ie, 12U type beasts like this) use the same power as whole racks of the standard IBM/HP type pizza boxes we can replace them with. Modern Xeons are multi-cored/multi-threaded enough to compete seriously with the older SPARCs, and do a good job of it, without needing their own power station too fuel and cool them.

    2) Parts are getting harder to find, and vastly more expensive. As they age the cost of supporting them sky-rockets, and with parts being harder to find if something breaks there is downtime to fix it. That's not a good situation to be in. Indivual parts for these old machines (eg. spare HBA card, etc) are now becoming as expensive as a new replacement system.

  • by blang (450736) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:10AM (#42868315)

    I think you're forgetting how little computing power you're getting out of the sparc processors.
    And the risc pipeline being highly optimized doesn't do you any good when you get 10x the speed out of a $50 intel chip.
    Sparc was better in 1995.
    By 1997 it was already playing catchup to everythnig else.

  • Antique? (Score:4, Informative)

    by asaul (98023) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:15AM (#42868333)

    We still have a V1280 in production (despite my best efforts to get rid of it), in fact I am sure we have an E3000 and some E450s somewhere in the place that somehow runs part of the network in a way no-one understands.

  • gradual phase-out (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:54AM (#42868919) Journal

    When you run into this situation, the trick is to understand what the server actually does for end users and the answer is largely non-deterministic. So what you do is you write a network of cron jobs that take it "offline" for an hour a day, where that hour advances throughout the day.

    After a week, increase the hour to 2 hours, and so on. If anybody is actually using said server, the complaints will shortly come out and you can then do a needs assessment.

    When you get somewhere past 6/5 (6 hours per day, 5 days per week) you are pretty much ready to shut it down. And when you shut it down, keep it on hand "dark" for at least a year just in case.

    Lastly, UPDATE YOUR FRIGGEN ADMIN LOGS because stuff like this is really a sign of gross incompetence at updating the logs.

  • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:17AM (#42869001) Journal

    If you work at a financial institituion, this is the kind of s**** that will lose millions of dollars.

    There are a lot of things that only come up quarterly, or yearly, and things where the effects wont be known until months or years later.

    so if someone does task X on February 15 but it doesnt show on a report until July, and then you shut it off on Feb 16th, that means it will be over a year before anyone finds out.

  • by White Flame (1074973) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:28AM (#42869027)

    This is the real problem with old hardware like that.

    In contrast, many retro home computers take very little power. A Commodore 64 with an old inefficient linear regulator based power supply still only drew up to 15W from the wall.

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