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Novell Netware

My first attempt at a home network was in the form of a small Novell Netware "network" in the mid '90s. My network was basically there to support a relatively large (for the time) file server which had a few SCSI disks installed so that I could access the files from a number of PCs.

The core of the network was a single large tower PC with thin Ethernet (10Base2) connections to a couple of other PCs running the Novell Netware Client for Windows for Workgroups (3.11), giving access to the file server. This worked well enough for my purposes, and whilst I never had any hardware failures, the system had no fault tolerance and relied on tape backups for data integrity.

The Netware 3.12 Server Information Screen


Image downloaded from here

The Netware System Configuration Screen

Image downloaded from Microsoft Korea


Windows/NT Server

Around the year 2000, as a result of a "technology refresh" at the company where I worked, I obtained a Compaq Proliant 3000 series server with an external SCSI RAID disk array and four DLT backup drives, which ran under Windows NT/4 Server. This was a beast of a machine to have in the small flat that I was living in at the time, but I was able to hide it away in a cupboard under the stairs to keep the noise, but not the electricity bills, down. This was the start of my generous contribution to global warming - my electricity bills have increased significantly since installing that first, and subsequent, servers.

This was my first introduction to configuring a Windows Server domain, albeit that the domain was somewhat small, consisting of a single server and a number of PC workstations running various Windows client operating systems. Although the domain was small, it did allow me to expand my knowledge of the basic building blocks of a Windows Server domain, including Domain Controllers (DC), Active Directory (AD), the Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), etc. This server had some fault tolerance in the form of hardware RAID but was again reliant on tape backups. It was essentially a "domain in a box" - should this one server have failed, then the whole network would have been down.


Windows/NT Server Hardware

Compaq Proliant 3000

The system unit, complete with :-


System Disk : a pair of 2.1GB SCSI disks, configured as RAID 1


Data Disk : a pair of 9.1GB SCSI disks, configured as RAID 1

Disk expansion chassis, fitted with 7 x 9.1 GB SCSI drives, with 6 disks configured as a RAID 5 array with an on-line spare

Tape backup unit, with :-


2 x 15/30 DLT SCSI drives, and

2 x 35/70 DLT SCSI drives


Although I only ever used one of the 35/70 drives for my backups.

Windows/NT Software

"Splash" screen from Windows/NT Server Version 4.0
"Splash" screen from Windows/NT Workstation Version 4.0


Windows Server 2003

We bought a new house in 2004 and as we decided that we would do quite a bit of refurbishment before moving in, this gave me the opportunity to install the cabling that I thought would be necessary to meet my needs for the foreseeable future. I "flood wired" the house with Category 6 network cable and satellite grade RG-6 coaxial cable. Most rooms had 4xCat6 and 2xRG-6 cables terminated in wall plates and wired back to patch panels in the loft.

Around that time, I discovered eBay and managed to pick up a Dell 42U 19" server rack and a PowerEdge 4400 server for reasonable prices. Again, this server was a "chunky" piece of hardware, it was 7U tall and included redundant power supplies and 8 bays for SCSI RAID disks. I installed the server rack in the garage with 8xCat6 cables running between the garage and a 9U 19" rack in the loft. I also installed an APC Smart UPS 3000 and a 24 port gigabit switch in the server rack with a corresponding switch in the loft.

I migrated the Domain to Windows Server 2003 at this time, this required me to add at least one Domain Controller (DC). Given the importance of the DC in a Windows Server environment, I realised that I needed two DC's for fault tolerance. A couple of visits to eBay allowed me to pick up a pair of old but fully functional (and cheap) First Generation 1U Compaq Proliant Servers, a DL320 and a DL360. The Compaq series 3000 server was retired at this time and I rebuilt the File Server on the Dell PowerEdge using Windows Server 2003.

In such as small domain as this, even these relatively low powered servers were adequate for running the Domain. Each DC was a Domain Name Server but I used the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) functionality in my wireless router to allocate v4 IP addresses to devices on the network rather than using the DHCP role in Windows Server.

The first application server on the network was added to host a real time database, logging data from a number of sensors around my home, including the temperature and humidity in a number of rooms and the data recorded from my weather stations. The hardware for this server was obtained from another visit to eBay, this time I opted for a 2U Compaq Proliant DL380 with dual processors, redundant PSUs and 6x1" 18GB SCSI drives. The drives were configured as a RAID 1 (mirrored) array for the system disk and a RAID 5, 3 disk, array with an on-line spare shared between the two arrays.


Windows 2003 Server Domain Hardware

Windows 2003 Server - Domain Controller 1

Compaq Proliant DL360-G1
Processor 2 x 1.0 GHz/133 MHz Pentium III 256KB Cache
Memory 4 x 128 MB PC133-Mhz
Disks 2 x 9.1 GB Hot-Swap SCSI (RAID 1)
Network 2 x 10/100 WOL

Version 1 of the DL360 did not have an online BIOS utility, the Compaq (HP) SmartStart CD was required to configure the server.

Windows 2003 Server - Domain Controller 2

Compaq Proliant DL320-G1
Processor 1 x 1.0 GHz/133 MHz Pentium III 256KB Cache
Memory 2 x 128 MB PC133-Mhz
Disks 2 x 40 GB Non-Hot-Swap IDE (RAID 1)
Network 2 x 10/100 WOL

"Splash" screen from Windows Server 2003

File Servers

Dell PowerEdge 4400 - Specifications


Rack mount version, 7U

Dual Pentium III Xeon, 933MHz processors, 256K L2 cache


PCSI SCSI Controller - PERC 3Di RAID enabled

8 x 1" SCSI disk slots, 5 fitted with 18GB disks, 2xRAID 1, 3xRAID 5

17/40x CDROM

Redundant (2 from 3) 330W PSUs

7 Expansions slots (2x64bit/66MHz, 4x64bit/33MHz, 1x32bit/33MHz)

Ultra/Narrow SCSI connector for Tape Backup device

2 x 100 Ethernet ports

2 x Serial, 1 x Parallel, 2 x USB, PS/2 Keyboard & Mouse ports


As the number of clients attached to the network increased, so did the disk space required for network backups and the PowerEdge 4400 was quickly full to capacity.

As noted above, the PE4400 is a very large server with a correspondingly large power requirement, met with 3 x 330W PSUs at the base, so, around 3 of the 7Us of rack space required for this server were taken up with the power supplies. The useable hard disk capacity, using the 3x18GB disks configured as RAID 5 was only 36GB - a very small amount in view of the server size and power usage.

Although consumer NAS devices were available at reasonable cost, I wanted my to upgrade my file storage facilities to something more robust, i.e., devices which included a high level of fault tolerance and which could be integrated into my AD domain.

As an interim measure, I used a couple of low end, but good quality, HP StorageWorks NAS devices, These small servers were produced with a choice of 320GB (4x80GB), 640GB (4*160GB) and 1TB (4x250GB) storage capacities. They had single PSUs, but the 4 disks were configured in a RAID 5 configuration. The system disk was mirrored across two disks and a secondary recovery system was mirrored across the other two giving relatively good protection against disk failure.

I picked up two of these at low cost on ebay, but had to settle for one 1000S and one 1200S. The hardware is the same but the older 1000S was shipped with Windows 2000 Advanced Server and the slightly newer 1200S with Windows Server 2003. The great thing about these servers was that each give me 1TB (with about 670GB of useable data file storage) in a 1U package with a relatively low power demand of less than 250W each.
HP Storageworks NAS 1000S - Specifications
Intel Pentium 4, 2.8 GHz processor
512-MB, 200 MHz, PC2100 DDR SDRAM
64-bit PCI-X slot 64-bit PCI slot
Four 250 GB, 7200 rpm hot-pluggable ATA hard drives (RAID 5)
Two embedded 10/100/1000 WOL (Wake on LAN) network interface controllers (NICs)
SCSI controller for tape backup
Windows 2000 Advanced Server - Appliance Edition
HP Storageworks NAS 1200S - Specifications
Intel Pentium 4, 2.8 GHz processor
512-MB, 200 MHz, PC2100 DDR SDRAM
64-bit PCI-X slot 64-bit PCI slot
Four 250 GB, 7200 rpm hot-pluggable ATA hard drives (RAID 5)
Two embedded 10/100/1000 WOL (Wake on LAN) network interface controllers (NICs)
SCSI controller for tape backup
Windows 2003 Advanced Server - Appliance Edition
Power Supply Protection

Windows Servers, especially Domain Controllers, do not take kindly to power outages; the Active Directory and supporting structures should always be shutdown in an orderly manner to prevent corruption of the data.

The domain controllers, and most other Windows servers that I use now, have redundant power supplies that provides protection against a single PSU failure, but everything relies on power from the mains supply.

To guard against mains "spikes" or total loss of the utility supply, I have installed Uninterruptable Power Supplies for critical components in the network.
The first Uninterruptible Power Supply, an APC DL3000RMI3U

Rated at 2200W/3000VA, has 1 SmartSlot and 8 IEC power outlet connectors.

The UPS has an AP9606 Web/SNMP Management Card installed in the SmartSlot and connected to the network. The AP9606 is now obsolete but was supported by PowerChute up to and including Windows 2003.

Connected servers running a copy of APC's PowerChute Network Shutdown software can be configured to gracefully shutdown on loss of power when the UPS batteries are becoming depleted.






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