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Kid.Lazer

Challenge: Upgrade Pentium II server

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Posted · Original PosterOP

As the title indicates, I have a Unix "server" (I use the term loosely) running on an ancient Pentium II system purchased somewhere in the early to mid 90's, complete with original HDD and 8GB Dat drive for backups. Our company uses a single program, AutoEase, for all or our inventory, customer data, and POS. As you can imagine for being a 24/7 system, it's a miracle that the main hardware is still functioning. The backup drive has failed numerous times over the years; I'm now out of replacement hardware, and I can't find them at sane prices anymore. I'm the head of IT, but unfortunately, I'm self-taught and know absolutely nothing about Unix. I have informed those that can approve the spending that we need a new system ASAP. The problem however, is that they really want to keep our current software so they don't have to learn something new or migrate our data. I'm open to starting fresh, but quite frankly either option will be an enormous headache.

 

Optimally, I'd love to get new hardware and set up our current system as a VM and go on with life. I don't even know if that's a viable option though, and I certainly don't have the experience to do it myself. As far as starting from scratch with new software (nothing currently even being considered), I don't think migrating our data would be too hard as everything from our current system can be exported as tab delimited text files. That said, new software will surely have a change in features and function, and I suspect that will get shot down by upper management.

 

I'm honestly grasping at straws here for some help. I wouldn't even know where to begin on a project like this: who to contact, what direction to head, what software to buy, what hardware to get, etc... Any insight would be greatly appreciated. And if more information is needed, I'll get whatever I can.

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If it works, maybe not mess with it?

 

If your server has IDE hard drive, you can buy IDE SSDs, here's just one option: https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16820208893

They use MLC which has high endurance so they should last for around 100-200 TB of writes to the flash memory. You can buy 2-3 of them (for backup purposes).

Power supplies... I think by the time of Pentium 2 ATX power supplies were common, if not you can probably move the contents of the server in a new case and use a plain ATX power supply.

You'll want a power supply that's more heavy on 5v, as most likely that Pentium 2 is powered from the 5v rail (powering cpu from 12v became popular with Pentium 4)

Here's some examples:

Seasonic SS-350ES: https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16817151075

 IN WIN IP-P300BN7-2 300W ATX12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Newegg.com

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D GREEN 380W Power Supply - Newegg.com

SeaSonic SS-400ES Bronze 400W Power Supply - Newegg.com

 

Memory you can still find on eBay if it fails ... a Pentium 2 probably used DDR or DDR2 (I stand corrected, Jarsky says they used SDRAM)

 

Really, the only thing you may have problems finding these days would be a replacement motherboard.

 

If you need to keep Windows XP or Windows 2000 or something old for that particular software, or the software doesn't like multi core processors, you can still buy single core processors today, in box, with cooler and fan.

For example, you have AMD Sempron on socket AM3: AMD Sempron 145 2.8 GHz Socket AM3 SDX145HBGMBOX Desktop Processor - Newegg.com

The chipsets for socket AM3 support Windows 2000, XP, 2003 out of the box... here's just a couple examples of motherboards :

ZOTAC 880GITX-A-E AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Mini ITX AMD Motherboard - Newegg.com

GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-USB3 R2 AM3+/AM3 AMD 760G USB 3.1 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Newegg.com

 

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I'm guessing its a very old version of Unix?

Have you tried running the software you need on a newer Unix kernel to see if it works? Ideally you'd want to move to a modern kernel if possible for compatibility and security. 

Anyway you should be able to run VMware converter on it to do a Physical to Virtual conversion and import it to a VMware ESXi host.

 

 

Quote

I think by the time of Pentium 2 ATX power supplies were common

Pentium 2 is ATX so any ATX PSU is fine

Quote

Memory you can still find on eBay if it fails ... a Pentium 2 probably used DDR or DDR2

They use SDRam, typically up to 256MB modules

 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Unfortunately, updating the kernel is a no go. I literally know nothing of ancient unix (and it is ancient). As far as replacing hardware as it fails, it's certainly an option, sure. But I can't have an entire system worth of obsolete parts just laying here waiting to be used. Plus, it's a 24/7 system. If it dies, so does our business, even if just for the time it would take to replace parts.

 

I've been interested in VM approach, but as I understand it, to work properly I have to create the system image on the running system so that the hardware is virtualized correctly, yes? Or am I over thinking this? Can I just clone the HDD and convert it to VM image?

 

As an aside, if you read this and your first thought is "Dude, you're way over your head. Pay someone to figure this out" I wouldn't be offended if you said as much. I'm very competent with windows, but unix is... unix.

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I don't know about ancient unix. but to check versions of the kernel in newer unix systems, you can write "uname -a" in therminal, to check the kernel and compile date. But as i said this feature might have been added later.

At least it will give us an idea of what we are working with.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I will try to see what I can come up with. I'll probably have to wait until the end of the week.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Well, I figured it out earlier than expected due to an random shutdown...

Anyway, it's running SCO OpenServer 5. Kernel: SVR3.2v5.0.5-98/07/02

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On 10/8/2019 at 8:37 AM, Kid.Lazer said:

Unfortunately, updating the kernel is a no go. I literally know nothing of ancient unix (and it is ancient). As far as replacing hardware as it fails, it's certainly an option, sure. But I can't have an entire system worth of obsolete parts just laying here waiting to be used. Plus, it's a 24/7 system. If it dies, so does our business, even if just for the time it would take to replace parts.

 

I've been interested in VM approach, but as I understand it, to work properly I have to create the system image on the running system so that the hardware is virtualized correctly, yes? Or am I over thinking this? Can I just clone the HDD and convert it to VM image?

 

As an aside, if you read this and your first thought is "Dude, you're way over your head. Pay someone to figure this out" I wouldn't be offended if you said as much. I'm very competent with windows, but unix is... unix.

It should be easy enough to P2V that box to a hypervisor.

 

SCO OpenServer 5.0.7V Virtualization under Hyper-V

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