Microwave Biscuit

Building a Backup Server

Posted in apple, Linux, ubuntu by microwavebiscuit on May 26, 2008

I’m building a mini-server to backup all of my network pc’s here at home. Things I’ve done so far:

1. Installed Xubuntu – I intended on installing Ubuntu server but couldn’t get it to boot. I downloaded the image and verified it – burned it on 2 different disks but no luck. So, I grabbed an Xubuntu disk I had laying around and installed it. I figure I can remove some of the extraneous stuff when I am complete.

2. Setup OpenSSH, SMB, etc. Wow, what a task. Thank god for the Ubuntu forums – specifically the tutorials section.

3. Followed these tutorials:

Setup Samba first:
HOWTO: Setup Samba peer-to-peer with Windows

Start rsync backups (so far I’m backing up my “main” Ubuntu PC and an Apple. 3 Windows machines to be setup to do backups too.
HOWTO: Backup nightly via rsync – Ubuntu Forums

Finally – setup “fake” raid for new big drives:
HOWTO: Linux Software Raid using mdadm

This all started as part of a project that I was inspired by in Linux Format Magazine which in the May issue had an article about building a media server/NAS using Ubuntu. It just so happens that I had a spare motherboard, case, power supply – all I really needed was a few big ass drives. Now I’m in the final stages of setting up the RAID array using RAID1 which is mirroring for hopefully fail-proof backups.

So far the only hiccups I’ve had were in getting the OS installed using the Ubuntu Server image.

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Mac Mini Disassembly

Posted in apple, Technology by microwavebiscuit on July 4, 2007

I have a Mac Mini that I bought a few years ago and I use it primarily for email, web, and iTunes. I don’t do much “heavy” computing on it but I do enjoy using it. Occasionally it locks up and is usually fixed by turning it off for several hours. I was convinced that the hard drive was going bad as sometimes when I boot it up I can’t “find” the drive. It’s been generally behaving for the last few months so I started pretending it would all be ok. Fortunately I do regular nightly backups via SuperDuper (great software for the Mac!) as yesterday the drive just quit. I had taken apart the Mini before to upgrade the RAM chip in it so I knew it was possible to get it apart and hopefully replace the drive. I also had a spare 80 Gig notebook hard drive in my office so I began the process.

In order to separate the case you need to basically pry it apart. The recommended tool is a putty knife. You slide the putty knife in between the case and the bottom and slowly “pop” the case. Once you have the case in two pieces, the hard part begins. Part of the Mini’s charm is that it’s so small but this makes doing a task like replacing a drive extremely difficult. First, you need to remove the DVD drive. There are 4 screws on the sides of it connecting it to a plastic harness. Once all 4 screws are out, slide the DVD Drive forward carefully to disconnect it. I figured once I had the DVD drive out I could easily get the hard disk out. Wrong! In order to get the disk out, I needed to completely dissasemble the plastic harness that mounts to the motherboard. Again, 4 screws attach the harness to the motherboard. After removing the 4 screws, you need to carefully lift out the harness. I had to also unplug the power button motherboard connector as the cables were running through the harness. Now I had the harness detached from the motherboard. At this point you can easily get at 2 of the 4 screws holding the hard drive in place, however the other 2 were not so easy. Next step was to remove the fan from the harness. I didn’t need to unplug the fan but I did need to unscrew it (4 screws) in order to gain access to the hard drive mounting screws behind it. Finally I got all 4 hard disk screws out and could remove it. It is just a standard notebook type disk and as I said, I had a spare. I plugged the new disk in, and in reverse order put everything back together.

Once I got everything mostly back together it was time to see if I had created a doorstop/paperweight or if I had managed to get the new drive in correctly. I booted up the machine using the OSX CD I have. Everything worked. After booting up using the CD I copied my backup image over the new drive and now everything is great. I still haven’t put the case back together as I left it apart until I was sure that I had everything working correctly. Once I do that, I should be good as new!