[clug] nitrogen cooled server

Darren Freeman daz111 at rsphysse.anu.edu.au
Wed Nov 5 19:47:16 EST 2003


I lost the ability to boot my desktop machine yesterday (which doubles
as a medium-reliability server).

Basically I was doing a lot of disc-intensive stuff on a RAID, and it
locked up. As the disc-intensive stuff was involving restoring an old
image of my root partition I was screwed at that point, as I have no
boot discs that can start a RAID on the root partition without lots of
work. Well anyway I was too lazy to fix it the hard way as I was going
to upgrade to Mandrake 9.2 anyway and I still had all my old config
files to drop in place.

I couldn't get 9.2 installed, it would lock up during package selection.
I found that 9.1 did this too. I worked out that the RAIDs were
resyncing fine during installation, and it would only lock up when I was
far enough in for this to occur. Before starting RAIDs it was stable.

Today I decided to put two foam coffee-cups full of liquid nitrogen
inside the tower case and shut the lid. They are under the big fan on my
GeForce 4 which nicely stirs up the air over the nitrogen so it boils
off steadily. Nice fog effect.

After doing that I installed 9.2 without any hitches. Stable ever since.

I had cooling problems before, but once the RAID was synchronised I
never bashed the drives all that much so I got uptimes like 10 days
before voluntary reboot. It was only yesterday that heavy disc usage
locked up the machine and started all thic crap over again. Plus the
airconditioning here isn't all that stable.

So let that be a lesson to us all. Just running the CPU at 100% isn't
enough to verify good cooling. You have to thrash the drives too. (brand
new Western Digitals get *hot* compared to similar Seagates!)

Also if a computer locks up all the time and you are getting clueless,
try a couple of cups full of liquid nitrogen every couple of hours.
You've run out when the side panel isn't cool anymore. It helps to have
nitrogen on tap though ;)

Have fun,

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