Wednesday, May 18, 2011


For the last month or so I've been using an old family computer as a server. My initial motivation was to take every computer I could and create a beowolf cluster out of them. A beowolf cluster is a group of computers that are networked together to share processing power. After ruling out every single one of my old laptops (except my durable little dell pentium 1) due to hardware issues, I decided that in the end a beowolf cluster with the computers I had wasn't really worth the sweat.

While initially doing research and working on setting up the cluster, I also got the idea to use the server as a WoW (world of warcraft) private server. Around 5 years ago I had played on a private server with GM powers and I wanted the ability to that again + with friends. On a side note all of us still pay for and play often our typical WoW accounts.

The only laptop of mine that was still running great was my old pentium 1. I swear, besides my new asus, none of my computers lived up to my old dell pentium 1 inspiron. My step-dad recently got a new computer and that meant the old family desktop was sitting outside collecting dust. One thing about a desktop, any hardware problem can be fixed a lot easier than it could in a laptop. Let me note that the old desktop was not my computer and was not taken care of. It was in terrible condition when I opened it up to clean it out. The inside of the computer had cobwebs galore and about 1/5" of settled dust on everything. On top of the heat sink for the CPU, there was about a quarter inch thick of dust, and I mean thick. The power supply had dust all through it's insides and the cd drive no longer opened it was so clogged.

I took my 3 can's of air and thoroughly cleaned that computer out. I was able to get a WoW private server running on just the 512MB of RAM and the dual core 2.8 GHz CPU. The CPU didn't make all the difference since it was pretty much sitting at idle once the WoW login and world server was up and running. My main problem was memory since the programs for the WoW server were taking up all of my RAM and almost all of my paging file. I decided to up the memory to 2 gigs. The next problem that arose was a CPU that constantly sat at 70 degrees Celc. That processor shouldn't go above 68 degrees celc. I wasn't too surprised to see that the chip was overheating, especially considering all of the dust that had built up in there. The good news is that with a little bit of thermal glue I fixed the overheating problem easy. I barely see the CPU peak above 68 degrees unless I'm doing multiple things like running a virus scan and running other apps other than a browser at the same time.

My biggest lesson learned with this server is to not use Windows Server 2003. My original plan was to make an Ubuntu Server and I had given up on that plan after the WoW private server didn't run right (although I later found out I had missed some steps). Because I moved back to a windows environment I should have used Windows XP. Trying to find a free firewall and virus scanner for the server proved almost impossible. All of my favorites don't support Server 03' because it's used by corporations and not in private use. I also ran into a lot of driver problems because it seems like no driver has support for Windows 2000 or Server 2003.

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