Right now my workstation has three computers: Ryoko, Ayeka, and Washu. Ryoko, the most powerful desktop I have, has been sick lately. It started with some random USB problems that afflicted the other two but that PCI-USB cards resolved for the other two. The problem with Ryoko is that plugging in something to one port causes another port to stop working. The PCI-USB card simply added more ports to be incompatible. Then, about two months ago, Ryoko started (rarely) rebooting during periods of high usage. In the last week or so, it’s started rebooting regardless of what I am doing.

I thought that I had figured out the problem when one of the hard drives on the machine started misbehaving. I had run into similar problems with Ayeka and Washu and the problem was generally insufficient power. Given that it had previously been disinclined to work during times of high usage, it made sense. Further, I’d been adding hard drives to this machine and never upgraded the (600W) power supply to match the other two (850W and 1000W) even though it’s now carrying about the same number of drives (both by adding to Ryoko’s load and relieving the other by swapping more smaller drives for fewer larger ones). So I was preparing to buy a new power supply when Ryoko started acting more erratically. The aforementioned drive wasn’t just getting dropped, it had become full-blown problematic. Windows did it’s little thing where it says “Hey, there’s a problem with some sectors on this drive, so we’re going to take care of that” and then promptly erases the entire partition. Not a big deal in the case of this specific drive, but still disconcerting. I tried reformatting the drive twice and it rebooted each time.

This could still be power supply related. The dropping of the drive damaged some sectors or somesuch. Insufficient power supplies are the root of much evil, I’ve discovered. But it could also be something else. The best thing to do is to start swapping out parts to see what works. But since Ayeka and Washu are working so wonderfully, I don’t want to touch them. The most likely culprits are the power supply, the problematic hard drive, the RAM, or the processor. I can test around a lot of things (test the power supply by lightening the hardware load, the hard drive by taking it out, the processor by process of elimination). The biggest concern is RAM. I need some RAM to test out with, but I don’t have any spare DDR2 RAM laying around.

What’s really frustrating about all of this is two weeks ago I did! If this had happened two weeks ago, it would have been perfect. I ordered some laptop RAM and they sent me some DDR2 desktop RAM. It took us a week to get it all straightened out and in the meantime I had the RAM just sitting there. They even offered to sell me that RAM at a discount and I told them I would but I simply had no use for it. Now, of course I do. Possibly just for testing, but possibly for replacing. Fortunately, Linux LiveCDs often come with memory testing so I can probably isolate the problem there.

I am hoping that it’s the hard drive, which is one of the least important that I own. If it’s the computer, it’s going to get tricky. There are a number of IDE drives invested in that machine and IDE has apparently gone the way of the do-do. And, of course, DDR2 RAM is itself reaching obsolescence. And I would probably not feel secure unless I had a new power supply anyway, so that’s another hundred or two. So instead of looking at buying a cheap CPU/mobo combo for a couple hundred bucks, I’m looking at a near-complete replacement of $500.

Somebody, somewhere is saying “That’s why I own a Mac! So I don’t have that problem.”

Indeed. With a Mac, you would already be resigned to buying a completely new machine. And it would cost way more than $500. And it wouldn’t have the hard drive capacity Ryoko has anyway.


Category: Server Room

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3 Responses to Ryoko’s Misbehavior

  1. ecco says:

    I guess this betrays too much, but shouldn’t Washu be more powerful than Royoko?

  2. trumwill says:

    Is Washu more powerful than Ryoko? I suppose she is!

    They were actually named in the order in which I got them. Ayeka is oldest, Ryoko came next, and Washu came last. I think that’s the order. They all actually came at about the same time when I was rebuilding from a single PC to a network, but were still purchased one at a time.

  3. David Alexander says:

    Somebody, somewhere is saying “That’s why I own a Mac! So I don’t have that problem.”

    Mac users tend to be the types of people who don’t fiddle around with computers in the way that you’re doing…

    Right now my workstation has three computers: Ryoko, Ayeka, and Washu

    In contrast, my network is called “NEC” as a reference to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor with the units named after trains. My main desktop is ALP46A (a brand new electric locomotive that just shipped from Germany to the States), the previous main was ALP46 (New Jersey Transit’s imported electric locomotive that serves as the backbone of its fleet), a test-bed old back up unit for the kids ended up being ALP44 (NJT electric locomotive from the 1980s), and currently dead ThinkPad R50e was AEM7AC, (Amtrak’s electric fleet backbone based on 1970s Swedish design upgraded with advanced French IGBT AC traction motors in the early 2000s). The IPods are respectively Atlantique (early 1990s French TGV set), Duplex (current generation TGV set), Genesis (Amtrak’s diesel locomotive).

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