As far as I can see from Google Analytics, though I’m now up to about 4,000 visitors per month for this blog, it seems like most are one-time visitors. So hopefully the few hiccups of the past few days weren’t noticed (except by me, and my mailserver…). As many of you in the US may know, New Jersey was hit by a pretty big nor’easter last weekend and my area was especially hard hit. I lost power for about five hours Saturday night (the 13th) and again for an hour or so the next morning. Needless to say, these were both much longer than my small UPSes could cope with (the smaller of the two has a mere 12 minutes of runtime with brand new batteries). While I do have a small (2500W) gas generator, it was buried in the back of the garage. The time it would take to dig it out and string extension cords from the UPSes to a relatively dry area outside would probably be more than 12 minutes - not to mention that as first lieutenant (second-in-command) of the town’s volunteer ambulance corps, I was running in the opposite direction once things got bad.

Luckily, the problems caused or uncovered by the power loss were relatively minor:

  1. The batteries in my smaller UPS lasted about 90 seconds. I’d noticed the bad battery light a few weeks ago, but put it off (hey, it’s my home setup, I don’t exactly have a budget). RefurbUPS, where I got the two APC SU1000NET’s, got me a replacement RBC6 (aftermarket, not original APC) in two days, for around $73. Unfortunately, my Tripp Lite SMART2200RMXL2U (unfortunately without the external battery pack) also just had its orange light pop on, so there goes another $90.
  2. The battery replacement caused another short (\~5 minute) downtime tonight, including my router. Unfortunately the router is plugged into the smaller of the two UPSes, and none of my current boxes have more than one power supply. Mistake. Especially considering my limited resources. On the positive side, I took the opportunity to move all of the equipment onto Liebert MicroPODs.
  3. The external SATA disk for my desktop used to store media is dead. I’m getting incessant read errors, followed by offlining the disk, on two USB adapters and internal SATA. I guess I should have a better surge protector for the desktop.
  4. A few of my boxes didn’t come up clean, mainly due to entropy in the configs, or services that were never chkconfig‘ed. Well, I don’t use any configuration management at home.
  5. One of the disks in my storage server (RAID 1+0 of 6x 36.4Gb 10k RPM SCSI disks) died - actually a few days before the power outage. I was able to find a new replacement on Ebay, with warranty, for about $40.
  6. Many of my internal services - including a lot of the Nagios checks - use a separate gigabit management network, run off of an older GigE aggregation switch. This was on the smaller UPS, so it went down quick. As both this and my main switch are of the same series, perhaps an RPS unit would be worth the money.

Plans for the future:

  • Get Puppet working at home. As part of this, buy a spare server so I can migrate services one at a time to a puppet-ized version, test, and then rebuild (while the production machine is still running).
  • In the future, given my limited infrastructure, purchasing dual power supply machines - and putting the PSes on separate UPSes - would be a good thing.
  • Configure the Tripp Lite UPS to do load shedding.
  • Setup UPS management software to bring down boxes in a logical order.
  • Power savings is also important - so I’m thinking about rebuilding things using Xen, and using live migration to both distribute load logically under normal circumstances, and to move around loads in the event of power failure (kill non-critical/internal-only stuff, consolidate the rest).


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