Long Server Outage, Some Mail Lost

A week or two ago, the ancient laptop I use as my personal web/mail/fileserver and firewall, suddenly got a bit flaky: it kept running, but all attempts to write to the disk failed. Naturally, this prompted me to get extra conscientious about making sure everything of importance was backed up regularly (my e-mail was already being backed up automatically each day, but I discovered that the MySQL database containing my Wordpress articles was not in the backup set — oops). A reboot fixed the problem, however, so I didn’t run out and get a replacement drive just yet.

However, last Thursday the same thing happened again, and this time after a reboot all I got was the message “primary hard disk not found”. So that’s why my server was unreachable for the past couple of days. It’s quite possible that I lost some mail, too — I have a fallback mailserver through my DNS provider, but I’m not sure that they will have retained everything for three days. If you sent me an e-mail recently and have not received a response yet, please send it again.

I decided to drop the idea of using an old laptop as a server, so I went out and told the local computer shop to give me the cheapest hardware they could find — which turned out to be an Asus 2GHz dual-core board, 1GB of memory, two 80GB SATA drives (that’s the main reason why I didn’t just get another laptop drive: software RAID) and an extra network card. Turns out that Ubuntu 6.06LTS does not support the on-board network card, which is rather annoying, so I installed the desktop edition of Feisty and turned it into a server system.

The important stuff seems to work again, but there may be some more minor outages over the coming week, as I’m further tweaking the new system. No more mail should be lost, however.