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Re: Most energy efficient (home) setup
From: Joe Greco <jgreco () ns sol net>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 15:53:06 -0600 (CST)

I've spent a fair amount of time working on energy effiency at home.
While I've had a rack at my house in the distant past, the cooling
and power bill have always made me work at down sizing.  Also, as
time went by I became more obsessed with quite fans, or in particular
fanless designs.  I hate working in a room with fan noise.

So, good group to ask, probably...  anyone have suggestions for a low-
noise, low-power GigE switch in the 24-port range ... managed, with SFP?
That doesn't require constant rebooting?

I'm sure I'll get laughed at for saying we like the Dell 5324.  It's a
competent switch that we've had good luck with for half a decade.  The
RPS is noisy as heck, though, and overall consumption is something like
maybe 80 watts per switch (incl RPS).

The area where I think work needs to be done is home file servers.
Most of the low power computer options assume you also want a
super-small case and a disk or two.  Many Atom motherboards only
have a pair of SATA ports, a rare couple have four ports.  There
seems to be this crazy assumption that if you need 5 disks you need
mondo processor, and it's just not true.  I need 5 disks for space,
but if the box can pump it out at 100Mbps I'm more than happy for
home use.  It idles 99.99% of the time.

I'd love a low powered motherboard with 6-8 SATA, and a case with
perhaps 6 hot swap bays but designed for a low powered, fanless
motherboard.  IX Systems's FreeNAS Mini is the closest I've seen,
but it tops out at 4 drives.

But what's really missing is storage management.  RAID5 (and similar)
require all drives to be online all the time.  I'd love an intelligent
file system that could spin down drives when not in use, and even for
many workloads spin up only a portion of the drives.  It's easy to
imagine a system with a small SSD and a pair of disks.  Reads spin one
disk.  Writes go to that disk and the SSD until there are enough, which
spins up the second drive and writes them out as a proper mirror.  In a
home file server drive motors, time you have 4-6 drives, eat most of the
power.  CPU's speed step down nicely, drives don't.

FreeNAS can cope with ATA idle spindowns.  You don't need to have all the
drives spun up all the time.  But it's a lot more dumb than it maybe could
be.  What do you consider a reasonable power budget to be?

The cloud is great for many things, but only if you have a local copy.
I don't mind serving a web site I push from home out of the cloud, if my
cloud provider dies I get another and push the same data.  It seems like
keeping that local copy safe, secure, and fed with electricty and
cooling takes way more energy (people and electricty) than it should.

Quite frankly, and I'm going to get some flak for saying this I bet, I am
very disappointed at how poorly the Internet community and related vendors
have been at making useful software, hardware, and services that mere 
mortals can use that do not also marry them to some significant gotchas 
(or their own proprietary platforms and/or services). Part of the reason 
that people wish to outsource their problems is because it hasn't been
made easy to handle them yourself.

Look at e-mail service as just one example.  What the average user wants
is to be able to get and send e-mail.  Think of how much effort it is to
set up an e-mail system, with spam filtering, a web frontend, and all the
other little things.  I've been building e-mail services on the Internet
for more than a quarter of a century, and as far as I can tell, it has
not gotten easier - it's gotten worse.  Most people just concede defeat
without even trying at this point, point their domains at Gmail, and let
someone else handle it.

What about services like Flickr?  We've completely failed at providing
strategies for users to retain their pictures locally without putting
them at risk.  By that, I mean that Microsoft (for example) has made it 
nice and easy for users to pull their digital photos off their cameras, 
but has failed to impress upon users that their computers are not 
redundant or reliable, and then when a hard drive fails, years worth
of pictures vanish in a moment.  So that frustrates users, who then go
to services like Flickr, upload their content there, and their data lies
on a server somewhere, awaiting the day the business implodes, or gets
T-Mo Sidekick'ed, or whatever.

This frustrates me, seeing as how we've had so much time in which this
stuff could have been made significantly more usable and useful...

... JG
-- 
Joe Greco - sol.net Network Services - Milwaukee, WI - http://www.sol.net
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.


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