Rack mount cases

Matthew Hawkins matt at mh.dropbear.id.au
Wed Sep 11 01:43:24 EST 2002

Antti.Roppola at brs.gov.au (Antti.Roppola at brs.gov.au) wrote:
> But in the end, I decided to reduce the size and number of boxes.
> Hence I now have a couple of Sparcs using a 486 laptop as a terminal.

I was thinking something similar in regards to the original post, like
using Sun Cobalts.  I personally would not purchase a PC rackmount case,
the asking prices are far too high and IMO you're paying money for
nothing.  I'd rather put that extra money into part of the guts of a
Cobalt :)

But if you want to do this all on a budget, I think others have hit
their heads on the nail.  Get a rack secondhand (they're *much* cheaper)
and use trays to mount your existing gear in them.  Most trays suck
cooling-wise (being a flat metal tray for strength) but since I doubt
you've got a false floor with airconditioning in your home (though we
can all dream ;) and its being using to hold up a solid case anyway,
that is pretty irrelevent *except* for the fact you've got machines in
close quarters in the one spot - so make sure your front-to-back airflow
is as free as possible, since that's what PC's are expecting (though
racks are designed for bottom-up).  Arrange your fans so they're blowing
in the right direction - one of the first things I did with my PC was
void the warranty by opening the power supply and inverting the fan
since it was blowing in the wrong direction.  Hot air straight onto the
dual cpu's - I'd like to meet the bright guy who thought of that PS
design ;)  According to lm-sensors and the BIOS, the internal system
temperature dropped 10 degrees once I had proper front-to-back airflow

Oh, one other things about a rack, raising it off the floor as Alex
suggested lets you run cables out neatly underneath.  Cabling "issues"
are usually the cause of most accidents.  I've wiped out a IPS(*) and
four servers on it by forgetting my abseiling training and treading on a
cable it appears many others had before me - mine was enough to unplug
it from the socket.  I also don't enjoy headbutting live power cables
dangling free in the air - I'm usually statically charged, and induction
can be a bitch ;)  With a rack and standard PC cases in particular - but
even with rackmounts - cabling can be a problem and the extra effort in
being neat & tidy is worth the trouble in my experience.

Finally... do you *really* need that many computers?  Perhaps another
solution is to consolidate your computing power and retire unnecessary
equipment.  At the very least you save power (economic and environmental
benefits) and noise and fire hazards in your home ;)
I'm sure we'd all aspire to be like the late Leonard Zubkoff and have a
medium supercomputing farm in our house, but I think he's got better
traits to duplicate that are far more productive.

(*) well, the power got interrupted, so its not a UPS ;)

Matt                  "Our products just aren't engineered for security"
                            -- Brian Valentine, Microsoft Senior Vice-President
			       in charge of Windows development team
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