RackSpace in the HackSpace? Teaching Docker?

Howdy. So I have a Dell Bladecenter that is either meeting its maker, being parted out on ebay, or being used for something worthwhile in the hackspace. I’d love to show people how to use Docker on this, as a shared platform.

Its a 10 blade, 2-cpu-per-blade, 4GB-per-blade twin-NIC-per-blade monster that you could almost call Vintage.

Its loud. Real loud. It’d need to go somewhere where nobody cares how much noise it makes.

Would anyone be interested in using it in the hackspace in this hail Mary pass for its continued existence? Or do I continue with my original plan to part it out and scrap it? I can also provide another smaller, more modern rack server for other duties, and a rackmount 100Mb switch.

I like the concept of this if we can figure out a way of running it that doesn’t infuriate us all due to the noise.

Would be useful to host a few VMs for infrastructure usage too, though that means having it on 24/7 which might be non-ideal.

Is there no cupboard somewhere it can be put? Or in a cabinet near the messier noisier equipment?

I’m imagining virtualbox on a couple of blades, docker on others.

I’ve got a Pentium D whitebox server (branded McAffee) that could be suitable too.

I’d sort of worry about gumming up the fans in that situation. Hmm. We might be able to put it in a box in the corridor if we’re subtle about it.

Why not build it into a nice box, and give it a filtered vent to the great
outside? Some acoustic foam, rubber, and TLC should do a lot of good with
sound dampening. If it’s air-tight/positive pressure woody-dusty shouldn’t
kill it, and we can drop a socket and cat6 connection to it easily enough.

In the dark corridor outside the space there’s a door that leads to a small area which I think was originally going to be bricked up
I’m not sure if that could be cleaned up / made suitable for storage as a mini comms room etc
I think it’s outer walls are a bit dodgy though

Another option might be to stick sound proofing around some walls

It’s VERY damp in there.


p: 07949 151 100
e: tamarisk@tamarisk.it
t: @notquitehere

Perhaps it would be less damp with a kW or so hot-air blower in there.

The previous tenants had a shower in that corner of the space without any damp proofing so I believe there’s quite a lot of damage. The damp is why the gap is there. I don’t know what work needs to be done to fix it but I assume it’s a fair amount otherwise it would have been done prior to the unit being built.


p: 07949 151 100
e: tamarisk@tamarisk.it
t: @notquitehere

Is there enough interest in it remaining intact as a computing object to justify hauling all 200kg of it over?

I certainly have an interest, although it might be a good idea to only have it on when something is being done on it - not only will it deafen everyone otherwise, but in the summer we would have to do something with the heat, which could be problematic (depending on how good the windows are).


the model mentioned in telegram was "10x 1855 blades with 2x single-core Xeons and 4GB of ram each. and 2x15k 36GB raptor disks each"
It seems about 10 years old based on google, but that’s 40Gb of memory, 20 CPU’s, 360Gb of space (if using Raid1)

maybe it could be adapted for water cooling (would probably be difficult because Dell uses they’re own customisations)
or swap the fans out with larger / less noiser ones

perhaps if we stuck it in front of that big vent near where the cnc bench is
and made some sort of adapter so that all the hot air and noise went outside that might be an idea
another one might be to stick in the side of the toilet :slight_smile:

I would be down with submerging it in some sort of electrically inert oil bearing in mind it will also have to be hydrophobic oil like 3M flouroinert

But that’s a bit impractical

The drives cannot be raided across blades it just doesn’t work like that and besides if you needed storage attaching some external network attached 2 terabyte discs won’t read out of the question

Regarding the fans I don’t think you could find any bigger fans as the ones it has are giant

it actually has they just run incredibly fast and I would be cautious of making the control board shit it’s pants because the fans are going too slow

This kind of thing uses static pressure to keep cool and that makes a lot of noise by default

I think if we used an in-out air system with some of the rectangular 90mm
ducting (
) we should be able to pipe airflow into the front, and effectively have a
sealed box on the inside-side. Or there was discussion at one point about
using the cable trays for carrying some exhaust from soldering etc, it
wouldn’t be too crazy to undersling an in and an out pipe.

The concept of docker classes and people running small projects etc on it
is definitely somthing I’m a fan of… I miss my bedroom full of fan noise

  • PCs and laptops just aren’t the same anymore.

Ignoring the issues of cooling etc which are all things that can be worried about after we have accepted the unit.

I think this would be a very useful resource for the hackspace in terms of teaching.

Yeah I think it’s 2 disks per blade, what I was saying before is if you used raid 1 on each blade that’d be 36Gb per blade
so for 10 blades that’s 360Gb split over 10 machines
like you’ve said though it’s not worth trying to join all the storage up considering you can just attach a single Tb disk
although I think all the disks are Ultra Scsi 320 instead of sata internally if we needed to replace them

One of the things I always wanted to try was Active Noise Cancellation, where you bung a bunch of speakers around something noisy to cancel out the noise

I /think/ VM Ware will treat a collection of machines as one machine - so you could then join up all of the storage as one, possibly in some form of RAID array.

Given that nearly all supercomputers run Linux it must be possible to do something similar with this array.

Hi all.

Kinda need an authoritative yes or no so that I can either bring this in or scrap it, as its busy occupying a living room in Ashton and has to be moved or disposed of.