Built my own...

Volume 12, Issue 35; 15 Oct 2009; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Another geekdom right of passage: builing my own box.

As I noted back in June, I've always wanted to build my own box. Now I have.

I don't, in retrospect, claim to have learned what “the right answer” is, but here's the answer I arrived at:

  • AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition CPU

    I was more than a little amused at the discrepancy between the size of the CPU and the size of the aluminum and copper monstrosity that sits on top of it to keep it cool:

  • ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 790GX HDMI ATX AMD motherboard

  • 4 x G.Skill 2GB 240-pin DDR3 1600 memory

  • 4 x WD Caviar Green 1TB SATA hard drives

  • LG Black 8x BD-ROM 16x DVD-ROM 40x CD-ROM SATA LightScribe burner

  • APEVIA ATX-AS680W-BL 680W ATX12V/EPS12V SLI power supply

  • XCLIO Windtunnel ATX Full Tower case

I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to assemble. The documentation was clear and complete, the parts all well labelled; it went together without a hitch.

(For a few more pictures, see Custom Build 2009 on Flickr.)

I decided to run bleeding-edge Ubuntu 9.10 Server beta on it. It's not that I wouldn't like to try Solaris and ZFS, but…the days are short and the list of projects is long. Installing Ubuntu is just that little bit easier. Ubuntu 9.10 installed flawlessly.

The ASUS motherboard includes a video controller and assorted other controllers. It claims to do RAID, but a little investigation reveals that it's fakeraid so I abandoned it. Instead, I setup software RAID. The first disk is the boot disk, the remaining three provide 2TB of disk in a RAID5 configuration.

The case, for all those monstrous fans, is pretty quiet, but not silent. I still think the server might get relocated to the basement, except that I worry about the higher humidity.

Anyway, MarkLogic Server is up-and-running and as soon as I get my Micro-blogging backup configuration ported over, I promise I'll write that next installment…


Sigh. The only computer I ever assembled was an E.S.R. DigiComp II. It was hard to do, too, as the parts were a bit warped.

—Posted by John Cowan on 16 Oct 2009 @ 03:15 UTC #

2TB is a lot of twitter data. i've generated only a fraction of that myself. :)

I need a better email archival method than 1GB outlook PST folders organized by year. markmail looks good, but if it were only available for personal email...

—Posted by Case Larsen on 16 Oct 2009 @ 06:00 UTC #

You just need to stick it in here (assuming this is close enough to where it needs to be): http://norman.walsh.name/2009/01/27/overengineered

You probably forgot to wire your closet as a server room, though there does appear to be an outlet. Just call anything missing "feature creep"

—Posted by Derek on 17 Oct 2009 @ 12:53 UTC #

That's exactly what I had in mind, Derek. In fact, there's even a cat5 end in that closet. Alas, a machine in that closet is clearly audible in the bedroom, so that ain't gonna work.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 17 Oct 2009 @ 11:35 UTC #

Some packing foam (the very soft black stuff that has a wavy pattern that actually looks like acoustic baffling) strategically placed to allow airflow works great for me. Mine is in a cardboard box as that was cheapest and easiest to construct.

—Posted by Derek on 19 Oct 2009 @ 05:28 UTC #

MarkLogic Server up and running on Ubuntu you say. Us mere mortals only have access to the RHE version for Linux. Do you mind sharing how you got it running? I converted using Alien and changed the LSB. Is there a deb build and if so can it be shared?

—Posted by Christian on 08 Nov 2009 @ 07:30 UTC #


No, there's no .deb. I installed it with alien. As of Ubuntu 9.10, it appears that the LSB bug has been fixed so it was straightforward.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 08 Nov 2009 @ 10:21 UTC #