Last week I was greeted with a yellow blinking light on the front of the Dell Desktop PC that hosted kahunaburger.com and some other domains. It sat there in the in the cool garage (not a thermal problem) with both disks spinning (not a disk problem) and would not restart. For a few days I tried to make things work again, but the PC remained silent with no indication of the failure condition on the screen – in fact, I did not see anything on the screen. I cleaned it, blasted air through, all to no avail – it was dead (10+ years is not too bad). This weekend I embarked on resurrecting the sites on the PC and went through a number of stages of frustration: 1) I tried to move the disks to an AMD desktop I had around, but the thing would not turn on, 2) I tried to move the disks to another old PC, but it would not go beyond the initial boot stages of FreeBSD, because the architecture was too different.
No local hardware to run the old sites – sigh.
Plan B: create a new virtual FreeBSD instance in VMWare and at least extract all the data from the disks. In VMWare Fusion Mac I created a new instance from a bootonly-FreeBSD-image and was able to mount the disks in no time afterwards. I installed the correct version of mysql in the VM and dumped the data to another volume. Now I had a database dump as well as the dump for the filesystem and could proceed.
Where do I spin up the new servers? I had long hoped to move the server’s responsibilities to Amazon Web Services and now seemed to be the right time. An “m1.small” instance later I had the skeleton of a Linux, Apache, Mysql, Perl server and started to restore files. You should have seen how surprised I looked when the first hits were answered correctly and I saw something else but “500s”. It just took a bit more tweaking until most of sites’ content worked again. Pretty impressive (until I get the next bill from AWS – then I’ll decide how to allocate reserved instances) ..
PS: “sudo resize2fs /dev/sda1” is your friend if you’re using the Amazon Linux AMI and have allocated more space for the root volume than what seems to be available …