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Why MUUG Online 8.0?

Welcome to the eighth generation of MUUG Online servers. MUUG began its online presence in 1992, with a small Sun 386i called MONA (MUUG Online Network Access), and that system was finally retired in 1995.

In 1994, MUUG started to run its second generation server, code named LISA. This server took over the remaining functions of MONA, which included e-mail handling and FTP. This server was also used to launch MUUG's first World Wide Web server. All of this was accomplished on a donated Sun SPARCstation 2 board, a spare 1 GB disk drive from MONA, and a new 1 GB disk and a system enclosure purchased by the group. Main memory was a mere 16 MB initially, which was sufficient to support a small SunOS 4.1.3 kernel and the services we needed to run.

In July of 1997, a 9 GB disk was purchased, and the server's operating system was changed to Red Hat Linux 4.2. Services provided remained essentially the same, but the new OS was chosen to support larger disks and allow us to more easily add new software. We started using the Apache web server, and used the mirror package to set up a number of mirrored FTP archives. Disk space quickly got tight, and the following summer, a 23 GB disk was added to the collection (just in time for the death of the original 1 GB disk).

We took less than a year to fill up that disk too! Furthermore, with increased network bandwidth and with more users attempting to do huge downloads from our FTP server, the poor old SPARCstation 2 was having trouble keeping up with the load, resulting in poor performance, aborted transfers, and other problems. So, the MUUG board decided it was time for a new server system again.

In February of 2000, after several months of planning and delays, we introduced the third generation MUUG Online server. This system's initial configuration was an Intel Celeron 400, with 128 MB of memory, and two 27 GB IDE disk drives. A SCSI controller was also included, which allowed our existing SCSI disks to be migrated to this server once the SPARCstation 2 was retired. The operating system was Red Hat Linux 6.1. The system was later upgraded to an AMD Opteron 833, with 384 MB of memory, and an extra 400 GB of IDE disk drives, running Fedora Core 3.

In April of 2008, after a couple false starts and revised plans, we upgraded to the fourth generation MUUG Online server. This system's configuration was an Intel Pentium 4/2.6GHz, with 1 GB of memory, two 180 GB IDE and two 750 GB SATA disk drives, running CentOS 5. The IDE drives were set up as a RAID1 mirrored pair, for the system and local data storage. The SATA drives were set up as a RAID0 striped pair, for 1.5 TB of ftp mirror space, used to mirror several Linux distributions and software repositories. We went with CentOS to have a familiar environment to Fedora, still free and open source, but with a longer expected life span than current Fedora releases.

In September of 2011, after a much consternation and aggravation with hardware and software upgrade issues, we're proud to announce the arrival of the fifth generation MUUG Online server! This system's current configuration boasts dual AMD Opteron 64-bit CPU's at 2GHz, with 4 GB of memory, and two 2 TB SATA disk drives, running Scientific Linux 6. The IDE drives are set up as a RAID1 mirrored pair, for the system and local data storage, as well as 1.7 TB of ftp mirror space, used to mirror several Linux distributions and software repositories. Services are essentially the same as before, so migration should be easy. Users should see a significant increase in performance, however. We went with Scientific Linux 6, another RHEL clone, since it seems to be a bit more up-to-date than CentOS 6.

With the old server showing its age, it was decided to build an entirely new, massive, sixth generation MUUG Online server in late 2014. After much work from a dedicated group of volunteers, fighting against some bleeding edge software technology, MUUG went live with a 1U, 14 disk, Xeon E3, half-homebrew server. That made it one of the largest FLOSS mirror servers in Canada with 37TB (binary) usable mirror space. While it was originally decided to go with CentOS 6 to avoid systemd, eventually, due to technical constraints, the server was switched to Debian 8 (jessie).

After enough modifications to call it (almost) a new server, MUUG then operated an ASUStek RS300-H8-PS12 with a Xeon E3-1230v3, 32GB of ECC RAM, 12 x 4TB "NAS"-grade drives (a mixture of 5400rpm, 5900rpm and 7200rpm units based on the price at the time of acquisition) for storing "mirror" data, 2x 250GB SSDs for booting and holding the OS, and most recently a 950GB NVMe drive to act as a L2 filesystem cache.
The 12 spinning-rust drives use ZFS raidz2, roughly equivalent to RAID 6, a tiny partition on the NVMe drive as a SLOG (ZIL) device, and a large partition on the NVMe drive for L2ARC. So far this addition has proven to be very beneficial.
Meanwhile, we also upgraded from Debian 8 (Jessie) through Debian 9 (Stretch) to Debian 10 (Buster), switched from Apache to Nginx, and many more changes in response to changing needs and conditions.

And in January 2022, we upgraded our hardware again, after acquiring a used server system from Tangent Animation at a very good price. The server was about 3 years old (half the age of our previous one), at the time of purchase, occupied 3U of rack space, had 2 power supplies, 24 x 4TB 7200rpm SAS disk drive, plus 4 x SATA and 1 x NVMe SSD's (of various sizes), 64GB of RAM (expandable to 2TB), 4 x 1Gb/s and 2 x 10Gb/s Ethernet NIC's. With our 10Gb/s uplink, we were able to easily reach and sustain 4Gb/s in testing. Software setup and supported mirrors remain the same for now.

Connectivity (as well as power and rack space) is being donated by local company les.net, with the server co-located at one of their datacenters. We thank les.net for their generosity and urge you to check out their products and services, and tell them MUUG sent you!

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