In my home office, I have a machine called “fishtank”. I realized that I first bought it back in 2002, and since then it has been running various flavors of FreeBSD (probably beginning around 4.6 or so, currently running 7.2). At various times I’ve added or upgraded disk drives to it. While a power failure just two weeks ago reset it’s uptime, it’s had uptimes in excess of six hundred days on at least two occasions. I use it as an ssh server, file repository, and generally just a net accessible resource for generic computing tasks.
But the other day, I wanted to generate some new maps for my website using some code that I had never tried before, the Matplotlib Basemap Toolkit. There were already port files in FreeBSD, so I thought I’d try it out. So, I set it running with portmaster, and walked away.
The build failed.
Digging in, I found that it failed while building gcc (why it needed to build a new version of gcc I’m not sure, but it thinks it did). And it turns out it just flat ran out of memory.
I asked the quite natural question, “how much memory does this thing have?”
The answer: 256 megabytes. With less than 500 megabytes of swap.
I think it’s time to consider an upgrade. I could put 1G of memory in it, but that seems pretty lame. I think I’ll replace it with a small mini-desktop. I’m looking for an inexpensive, relatively low power and most importantly quiet server box. Anyone have any recommendations?