Woody is dead. Long live woody!

05 April 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

The server originally started out running on a Northwood Pentium 4, hence the name. Since then, it’s been a VirtualBox guest on my gaming PC, and for quite a few years now, it’s been running on a HP 8530w laptop I got while working at Nokia.

Ever since my son bought his own gaming PC (back in January), the MacBook Air he had been using has been unused and I had been eyeing it off as a new host for woody.

It has some pros compared to the HP…
* SSD (vs HD)
* 6-year newer CPU
* Battery still works (barely)

The main issue the HP had was a chronic overheating issue. I had a custom script on it that monitored the temperature and forced the CPU to throttle down in order to prevent overheating. As a result, it could only manage about 900Mhz of sustained operation.

The MacBook Air isn’t entirely without faults though. Its fan died just after my son stopped using it (running Windows and games really taxed the poor system). The SSD is also complaining quite loudly about at least 5 SMART counters that indicate imminent death.

I finally got around to swapping out the MacBook’s fan this weekend, so I went ahead and copied Ubuntu install over from the HP. With the barest of trouble, the system was up and running on the new machine. I had to put in a hack to make the screen turn off but otherwise, the system is running fine. It is noticeably quieter, since the fan is running at minimum speed instead of flat out. The Wifi seems to be working but I’ve also got a USB Ethernet dongle if there’s reliability/throughput issues. I just noticed cups is racing to start listening before the network comes up (and thus failing to listen), but that’s a simple fix.

I’ve ordered a USB to SATA adaptor so that I can connect a second drive to the system. It’s probably a viable way to run if the internal SSD fails too. I’ve already got spare drives sitting around, while replacement MacBook Air SSDs are expensive (stupid non-standard connector).

I did not upgrade Ubuntu, though I did consider doing it at the same time. I had almost expected that I’d need to install a new Ubuntu base (EFI mode rather than BIOS mode) but since I didn’t need to do that, I didn’t upgrade anything.

It turns out my son has been missing a “portable” computer since he got his gaming PC. He has claimed the HP as a secondary machine. It doesn’t have a working battery but it’s small and light enough to drag into his bedroom. Apparently it can run Windows 10 and even plays old games (but it only does DirectX 10 so many newer ones won’t work). He likes the larger, higher-res screen for youtube.

I also finally threw out the USB+DVI KVM I had. The HP’s docking stand had DVI and so does my gaming PC so it was occasionally useful but now that the only DVI-equipped computers are far apart, it’s not useful anymore (and without an always-on device keeping it powered, it makes my gaming PC get confused about the primary monitor when it boots). Well… it was doing 1 useful thing, giving me an audio jack on my desk for my gaming PC. I’ve got a million random cables in a box though so I’m sure I can fix that problem.