f(220R) = 280R

At work, our mail server is an aging E220R. While underpowered for all it does, it has behaved well, more or less, until recently.

A couple of months ago it power cycled itself for no apparent reason. This weekend, it did the same thing. This is exactly the same behaviour I saw from another E220R at $other_university, and in that case it got progressively worse. Another sysadmin here says he's seen the same behaviour with two in his care. I'm preparing for the worst.

Part of that has meant preparing to move its functionality to another machine; this has been an excellent chance to delve into the bowels of our mail and list system. I've been steadily improving (read: creating) this for some time now, but this points out some bits I hadn't. So that's good.

Plan C is a loaner E280R from the other sysadmin (op cit.). I ran into trouble getting it working, though. First, I couldn't get a serial console working. (Getting a serial port working always seems to be a pain for me, no matter what the machine.) It has two of the old DB-25 ports; no problem, since I had a splitter and had got that working on the E220R. Except that it didn't work: no matter which port I hooked it up to, I couldn't see any output. I tried flipping the key around to diagnostic mode, but I still didn't see anything. (The manual said that you should be able to force output to ttyA by power-cycling the machine and hitting the power button twice when the amber service LED started blinking…but I never saw the blinking.)

This was especially weird to me because I had been able to get output from the RSC card using the same setup: OpenBSD laptop -> usb serial adapter -> DB-9 to RJ-45 adapter -> Cat 5 cable -> RJ-45 on RSC card. (The only difference was that, with the DB-25 port, the Cat5 cable had fit into the back of the DB-25 splitter.) But I couldn't log into the RSC card, and a quick Google turned up no easy way of resetting its password. (Putting it into the other E280 I have, which runs our database and website, was not an option.)

Out of desperation I finally hooked up the Cat5 to the DB-25 splitter on one side, and the console server on the other…and that worked. Damned if I know what was going on.

But then I had another problem: when it booted, I kept seeing line after line of I2C reset error; after a while, it would power-cycle itself and the pattern would start again. I remembered that op cit. had slotted the second CPU for me, so what the hell: I reseated it, and that did the trick.

Next up is detaching $failing_machine's second hard drive from the mirror and seeing if I can get it to boot in the 280. Let's hope.

In other news, LinuxFest Northwest is calling for papers. Were that not right around the due date of Project U-14, I might try submitting something and see what happens. Oh well...next beer in Jerusalem!

And there's the laptop battery...shoulda charged it at work.