The server that has been running Urban Potato is really running to capacity. It's a PIII 600 Mhz processor with 8.5GB of Ultra SCSI storage and a paltry 256MB of ram. Not much in the way of hardware, is it? To top it off, here's a quick list of the workload this poor machine has to suffer through on a daily basis:

  • It's running Windows 2000 Server
  • It's a domain controller
  • It's a DNS server
  • It's running Exchange Server 2000
  • It's hosting four web sites. Five if you count Outlook Web Access

All of this adds up to about 4MB of available memory with the majority of software literally living off of the hard disk. Something had to be done.

Computer Stop to the Rescue

Computer Stop has these cool little Shuttle barebones systems for about $330.00. Combine these with an 80GB hard drive, 512MB of memory and a 1.7Ghz Celeron, and you have a reasonable setup for about $550.00. I bought two: one for Exchange and the domain controller, and another for the web sites. This will work out great because there is enough power that if I wanted to upgrade the web server I could temporarially switch everything to run against one server with little performance hit.


Installing the hardware was easy as pie. I've put so many of these things together I could probably do it blindfolded. The Shuttle cases are a breeze to work with, and they've even provided cable management clips inside the case for all the wiring. They probably go to the trouble for airflow; the case is fairly packed with stuff. If it weren't for the fact that the CPU is liquid cooled I would swear it would burn up.

Software was another matter. I'm going out on a limb here; Windows 2003 Server and a beta copy of Exchange Titanium. Why the early software? Two reasons: these boxes are headless and Windows 2003's remote administration is much better than Win2K, and Outlook Web Access on Titanium is nothing short of spectacular. After using it at work for a while, I'm hooked. Installing Windows 2003 server was a snap, but man, once you walk down the path of configuring a domain controller, DNS and exchange all of a sudden you're no longer in the fluffy land of just clicking setup. There are a ton of things to configure. There wasn't any less configuration with these newer technologies than I have had to deal with in the past, but man, has the documentation gotten a lot better. Everything told me what to do. Whenever there was something that failed, it told me how to fix it. I finally learned if I'm hosting a domain controller why I need to have my own DNS server.

Final Touches

I did a little bit of clean-up in the closet where I house the servers, bundled the wiring a bit, etc. In the end, I think it turned out pretty good.