The best solutions are the ones that protect you from your own stupidity.
A Sun Fire X4200 has found it’s way into our offices. We’re evaluating it as a potential production machine. Our current production environment runs on a single dual-core AMD Opteron processor with a single 500 Gb drive. It runs Fedore Core 5 and a bunch of standard LAMP stack applications. It’s definitely not an enterprise grade server, but it meets our current needs both technically and financially (i.e., it’s inexpensive). We’re building out our infrastructure and we’ve been evaluating different hardware configurations for our software.
The Sun Fire X4200 is a very different class of machine. Sun’s naming for their products makes me laugh. The X4200 is a Galaxy class server, I guess if it’s good enough for a fictional starship, it’s good enough for a company with fictional revenue. It’s unfortunate that Sun has brought back their We’re the dot in Web 2.0. So it’s a good thing that they didn’t send us the x4500 which has been described as “the Web 2.0 Server”. Doesn’t anyone else see this as goofy, that’s probably another good reason why I’m not in marketing.
The Integrated Lights Out Manager (ILOM) is the single biggest best feature on this machine. I was in the process of installing and configuring Fedora Core 5×86_64 on the X4200. Only eth0 was active because I was configuring the networking hardware and the operating system preparing to install our applications. The server was able to connect to our network and get a DHCP address, however, I was reconfiguring the port for a static IP address and I figured (like a moron) that I’d just bring the network interface down and then up which should allow me to reset the IP address. It works just fine logged in over the terminal locally on my Powerbook. When you are an idiot like I am, and you type the follow command when logged in over SSH:
This is pretty much a guarantee that the terminal window is going to stop and you’re not going to have access to the machine. Now if this machine was located remotely, I would have a couple of choices, either head over to the data centre and connect over a serial port or do a hardware reset on the machine and hope that the init scripts were configured to bring the eth0 port back up. It turns out Sutha and I were smart enough to have connected an ethernet cable to the Integrated Lights Out Manager port on the back of the box. The ILOM port let me connect over a web user interface and manage the machine. It included full access to the console and it just worked. The best systems are the one’s that protect you from your own stupidity.
Sun saved me. If the server was located remotely, they would have saved me a lot of time, a lot of head ache and potentially a lot of money (and as I’ve just been informed a rather severe beating ala the Office Space printer beat down).