Server updates 2021

Some of you might have caught a teaser picture I pasted on IRC a couple of weeks back of some server internals. This is actually what’s going to become the new main server for Blinkenshell in 2021! The current server is doing a fine job even though it’s very old, but I think it’s finally time to get a replacement to extend the life for hopefully many years. I’ve been thinking of new server hardware for a very long time, probably a year at least, and finally decided to start ordering some parts at the end of last year.

The last parts for the new server(s) arrived around the end of January and so I’ve been working very hard for the last month to get things up and running, performing different tests and experimenting with new ideas. Things are going to stay mostly the same but a lot of back end stuff is getting reworked. Everything is not decided yet but I want to post more build posts after I’ve “launched” things.

One change that you will probably notice in some way is that the SSH server “triton” is gonig to switch from Gentoo Linux to Ubuntu which means software package management is very different. I’m also trying my best use more standard components like systemd here, and even though it was a lot of pain in the beginning getting it to work the way I wanted now I’m actually pretty pleased with it. We’re also replacing SELinux with AppArmor, but I hope users will not notice too much change there. A lot of things are still very much custom though, like the kernel, AppArmor profiles, shell setup and so on, and security is still top of mind!

I’ve been working extra hard these last few weeks because I don’t want this move to drag on forever. My plan is actually to switch the SSH server and all of the underlying infrastructure next weekend on Saturday the 27th of February. This is going to be a huge maintenance window and I expect most services to be offline for the entire weekend. Hopefully mail services can get back online on the same day, and SSH services by evening Sunday the 28th (no promises though!). I don’t expect all services to be back online that soon however, things like blinkenbot, signup and even IPv6 might take quite a while longer before they are fully functional again.

I would also like to recommend everyone to make an extra backup of your files before the 27th just in case, I have no reason to believe there would be any data loss from the move but it’s always good to keep backups and you might want to access something while the server is down.

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