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Friday - August 08, 2014 - 10:00AM
Posted By: Particle
The Heart Still Beats
It has been quite some time since any server-related news has come up. Because of this, I thought I might take a moment to let everyone know that the PCRPG TribesRPG server soldiers on. We don't see very many players these days, but I'm determined to continue to provide a venue for people to play TribesRPG as long as there is a demand for it. The server has been running for 13.5 years now which is nearly half of my life.
In any case, I wish you all the best. Do your best to keep having fun, and let me know if I can help you in some way. I'm not in the forums very often these days, but I can always be quickly contacted via ICQ/AIM (UIN 34891584) or Steam.
To fill a bit of space here, I thought I'd just make a quick mention of what I've been up to. I've been on a solar power adventure which started about a year ago. I purchased four 185-watt panels and periodically play with them on weekends. They aren't permanently mounted. Part of this quest has been to develop an awareness of just how much power I'm using. A few high power bills can certainly help sharpen one's motivation, too. Last month is the first time I've ever seen a power bill higher than $300. At $340, it's 21% higher than any power bill I've had in the years I've been at this house.
With that in mind, power efficiency becomes a consideration when upgrading computer components. Every 1-watt load that is present 24/7 equates to 8.76 kWh/yr. That's about $1.00/W/yr as a rule of thumb. As such, I just bought a pair of Radeon 270X GPUs to replace the pair of Radeon 6970 GPUs that I've been using since 2011 (with the first 6970 being used solo after it was purchased from Newegg at late at night on December 14, 2010). They're not flagships, but they're 45% faster than 6970s while using 35% less power to do accomplish it. At idle, where they'll spend most of their lives, they should use 1/9th the power. Fun stuff. =)
Voice is Online
The server continues to suffer some disk trouble, but I've managed to get voice services (TS3, Vent) online along with TRPG and a few other services. I'll post again with updates as available.
The server is experiencing some disk trouble today. Many of you have probably noticed problems with services starting late last night. Unfortunately, I've been unable to remedy the issue remotely and will probably have to get hands on the hardware this weekend. I'd like to apologize for the downtime, but hopefully you all understand. I'll work to get the server online as soon as possible.
Happy 12th Birthday, PCRPG
Today marks the twelfth consecutive year that PCRPG has been running. It's hard to believe that it has really been that long ago that everything started. Especially interesting is the fact that the server was never even intended to be permanent. Indeed, it was the community that quickly sprang up around the server and its version of the TRPG mod that made everything what it would eventually become. Around 2005 and 2006, we were at our peak. We had a full server nearly every night at that time.
As the years since then have come to outnumber the years before and those highlights have become distant memories, I do sometimes stop to think about the good times I've had due in no small part to all of you. I wanted to take this time to say thank you for the last twelve years, and I hope those of you no longer around have found new and interesting things with which to dedicate your time.
Oh, So That Is the Problem
For some reason, the server's RTC is losing vast amounts of time very rapidly. The time lost is on the order of a minute or two every 2-4 hours with the exact rate not being known. The server is configured to aggressively resynchronize the clock automatically depending on how far the clock has skewed. This is a holdover configuration from our previous server which had a very aggressive time skew problem of its own. It seems very odd to me that our new box would be losing time so quickly considering that it now has a completely different motherboard. I suspect some slow space-time in that particular server's rack. heh
In any case, Tribes is very sensitive to these synchronization events. It crashes every time the clock updates. Specifically, it isn't Tribes that is crashing but rather the monitor for Tribes "sees" a crash because the clock is suddenly a minute and a half ahead of where it was. From the monitor's perspective, the 30 second long grace period that it allows for the server to not send it a heartbeat has been exceeded and the server is automatically reset.
The core solution will be to fix the server clock of course, but in the mean time I should be able to modify the monitor to be able to detect system clock shifts. An update should be coming in the near future to address this issue and hopefully the clockwork Tribes "crashes" will cease.
Oh, By The Way, We Have a Day Z Server
If you're currently having fun with Day Z, why not stop by the PCRPG DZ server? You'll have to join directly as people can't seem to join by the server browser most of the time. Consequently, the server stays a little quieter than many public servers which is a good thing when you're trying to farm loot.
Aoede (2008) Powered Down for the Last Time
As of today, Aoede (our server from 2008 to 2012) has powered down for good. I've moved the last of the remaining services and data from the old machine to the new one. It's a machine that has served us well, but its time has come to an end.
The good news is that its replacement is better in every way. :)
Server Upgrade Complete (Mostly)
This weekend's server upgrade went relatively well. There were elements that didn't go as smoothly as hoped, but that is all sorted now. This new server is going to enhance the performance enjoyed by all users and should also go a good deal toward enhancing reliability (not that we suffered a lot of down time before).
I'll be most interested in seeing if the new system's working RTC is sufficient to eliminate the clockwork Tribes crashes every 4h02m. Evidence suggests that problem is likely system time skew related.
Most external services are back online:
- PCRPG (Tribes RPG)
- Teamspeak 3 (all three servers)
- Minecraft (Private)
More work remains before I'm 100% complete, however, so please do not be surprised if there are a couple more momentary blips during low-utilization periods for various services as I put on the finishing touches.
Server Downtime / Deployment
The new server is finally ready for deployment barring unforeseen circumstances. Consequently, there will be a period of down time this weekend that may last for hours while the new equipment is installed and data transferred from the old server. The old server's disk system is on its last legs and is consequently very, very slow as a result. The effect is that the SQL data migration part may take the bulk of that down time.
The good news is that the new equipment is shiny and fast! We're upgrading to a dedicated, high-performance router reserved exclusively for our server as opposed to the software firewall in place now.
The new server itself stands with these specifications:
- AMD Opteron 6234 (12-core, 2.4 GHz std, 3.0 GHz turbo, Socket G34)
- 32 GB DDR3-1333 ECC/Reg (quad-channel configuration)
- Supermicro H8SGL-F 1P G34 Motherboard
- 4 x 300 GB Velociraptor 10K SATA drives in RAID-5
- HighPoint RocketRAID 2710 HBA (thanks to funding donated by Carling)
Everything about the new gear should serve to improve the services provided by the PCRPG network. I appreciate your understanding regarding the down time.
Server Upgrade Project - Progress Report 2
Things are proceeding well for the new server. The Opteron 6234 12-core CPU arrived last week. Since the new platform can boot using regular DDR3 RAM instead of needing registered and/or ECC memory, I fired it up over the weekend for some tests using 8 GB in four channels. The system works well!
The only remaining parts for the server are four new hard drives, 32 GB of ECC/Reg DDR3, I/O shield, and the CPU heatsink. The heatsink was ordered with the CPU but just hasn't yet arrived.
We're looking at probably a February or March launch at this point.