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4 Banger - 2U System Setup


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I was thinking of putting together a system of four computers (cheap laptops, same model) within a 2u rack. I don't want to run virtual machines because of limitations. I came up with these schematics:

width=575 height=293http://i25.tinypic.com/ancxvc.jpg[/img]

I might have to rip the screens off them to get them to fit. I would like to be able to remotely re-image the drives. I can't seem to think of any way to do this automatically. In the diagram you can see the connections for USB drives which I at first figured would house the images to be reloaded. Also I probably need to include a router, something cheap of the Linksys variety. Also cooling will be an issue so mega fans will be important.

The first problem is resetting the machine and having it boot from the USB drives ONLY if I choose to have it boot from them (for re-imaging).

The other problem is getting the machines to reboot remotely. Maybe coming up with a device that handles the reboots by wiring directly to the power buttons. All in all I've figured I might have to sacrifice one of the 4 computers in the box for command and control of the other 3 boxes.

I don't want to have to be on location for the re-imaging and resets primarily because I am looking to rent a spot in a  datacenter to drop this box into. My setup at home makes this process too difficult, and my wife would kill me for setting up something like this in the closet ;)

I can think of plenty of uses for this unique setup, how about you?

Any ideas about how to get this to work?

Do you think it's feasible or stupid idea?


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If you want to re image via USB I think you're going to need to be onsite, but if you had them all on the same subnet and had them all set to boot off the network you could have one set to host the image(s) and a PXE server then all you'd have to do would be remotely issue a reboot and it would boot the new image.

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Thanks for the input guys, Ive started looking at booting from the network as an option. It would be nice if I could actually wire a device to the machines that would reset the power (I've seen it done for laptops people have wired into their cars) some sort of custom ILO device. I am trying to eliminate points of failure and don't want to have to remotely connect to the client machines to rely on resetting them. Possibly have power on/off device connected to the command and control box which is also the PXE server. Then I could basically just connect to the command and control machine to do the reboots of the other boxes and loading of the images. I suppose the first step would be to get the schematics of some cheap used laptops and work on the device to control the power. Do some research on setting the PXE server up.

Anyone have any experience with getting a linux box to control a custom external board? (google time...)

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most laptops don't have a reset on board but if you went with towers you could wire up a wire or two to the reset switch on the mobo and plug that into a serial port... I'm sure out there somewhere is a way to force a reset to one box from another

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