Author Archives: gkarakas

Technical announcement

You might have experienced a 30 minutes downtime of our web site yesterday, the story follows.

While doing some software maintenance on our colocation server using RDP I took a look at the raid array just to realise that one of the disks was failed. And it was failed for two weeks already. It is a 3ware raid card, and of course it has a feature that alerts you via email if anything goes wrong – I just forgot to set it up when installed the server.

So I grabbed an identical hard disk – we did have some spare -, scheduled a visit at the colocation site at 22:00 CET, went in, replaced the hard drive, went home. The time I spend there was about 30 minutes, which could has been shorter if I can go to the server but it is not possible. I can only go to the visitor room and the technical staff brings the server there – no matter if it has hot-swappable disks.

The current config is RAID5, but I am worried about the possible data loss which can occur if 1. two disks fail at the same time, or 2. one other disk fails during array rebuild. The first option is quite possible, given that usually the disks that are built in a server are manufactured together, with almost identical serial numbers. So in the future we will opt for RAID 6, which seems to be a good choice. The cost of a gigabyte is ever decreasing, and there are 500G or even 750G drives already – one can easily put a number of terabytes into a server, which seemed unreachable even a few years ago.

After restarting the server, the actual rebuild took about 6 hours to complete. I had to fight some other problems as well – one was that the NNTP server did not start, required some indexing. This is a known problem – at least for us-, that thing usually fails about once a month.

Setting up a new server

I am in the middle of setting up a new server that will host our web sites (and other thins as mail, news etc). It is hosted in Hungary’s largest ISP, t-online. *

To ease the migration process I will have the same web configuration and file locations as it is on the current machine. I thought create the same settings will require a few hours.
Well, I was wrong. I am doing this for three days now. Point-and-click administration interfaces are a good thing for a beginner admin (or for someone not familiar with the actual software he/she tries to manage), but a real PITA when it comes to transferring the configuration to another computer. Instead of copying a few config files to the new server and restart the services, I have been clicking through wizards of all kind – DNS, web site, new virtual directories etc. The DNS was the most easier of all as the windows DNS service – for some reason – might store the zone information in a standard text file.

But the migration is coming to and end now. I have a few things left (will finish them today) and after the ECC ram modules arrive I will put it into the server room and forget about it for another 4 years…

* Surprisingly, having our server hosted in Hungary means no problems for our clients. The internet is a good thing, after all :)

Why blogging?

So the Vamsoft Insider is online (after about one day of installing (and tweaking, uninstalling and installing again) php, but that is another story). But what is the reason behind this site?

  • Blogging is cool. And – supposedly – so are the people who write it, and who does not want to be cool? :)
  • It is another way to communicate with our customers. As a company with limited marketing budget we are trying to use “alternate” methods to acquire new customers and keep them. These methods are far from new, but can be very effective. One of them is this blog – we will find out how this works.
  • There are currently a lot of things going on at Vamsoft, most of them are not strictly related to ORF. Rearranging our office, building a new colocation server, developing a marketing plan – these are all necessary to work more effectively and to support our future operations. Currently our other product – Kompakt ZOLL, only for the local market – also requires a lot of attention, and there are other product plans as well.

    In my posts I will try to speak about our day-by-day problems as well as about our future plans. A little bit of personal feelings, probably a deep technical solution of a difficult problem… Hope this will be interesting enough to raise your attention – if not, at least I got a chance making myself more extrovert :)

    BTW, if anyone is interested here is a Google Earth location file that shows the location of our office in Budapest: vamsoft.kmz. Google Earth is an exceptional software (is there anyone who does not know it?), I have spent hours with zooming around the globe after first installing it.