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Technical Details Behind the LAN-Party Optimized House 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-you-take-requests dept.
New submitter Temporal writes "Yesterday, Slashdot reported on my LAN-party optimized house. But, lacking from the internet at that time were key technical details: How do I boot 12 machines off a single shared disk? What software do I use? What does my network infrastructure look like? Why do I have such terrible furniture? Is that Gabe Newell on the couch? The answer is a combination of Linux, PXE boot, gPXE, NBD/iSCSI, and LVM snapshots running on generic hardware over generic gigabit ethernet. I have even had several successful LAN parties with a pure-Linux setup, using WINE."
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Technical Details Behind the LAN-Party Optimized House

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  • Re:Dude, that's lame (Score:5, Informative)

    by Temporal (96070) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:02PM (#38404612) Journal

    Honestly I'm kicking myself for not having written everything up before going public. The vast majority of people who saw the original post will not see the technical details. :/

  • by Temporal (96070) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:15PM (#38404708) Journal

    I can't imagine a single machine serving out over iSCSI to have performance acceptable to play any modern, intensive game. How's it all work?

    I couldn't imagine it either, but it turns out it works fine. Obviously the load times aren't blazingly fast but no one has ever complained about them being slow either.

    Note that most games load all data upfront. Once they've done that, the game runs without doing much I/O.

    Also note that an iSCSI image can be fully cached client-side, so if you load the same game twice, it's probably going to load directly from RAM the second time. (Most games are 32-bit so there's a good 4GB of RAM in the machines doing not much other than disk cache.)

  • Re:Haha ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Temporal (96070) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:35PM (#38404866) Journal

    "I purchased 12 copies of Windows 7 Ultimate OEM System Builder edition, in 3-packs. However, it turns out that because the hardware is identical, Windows does not even realize that it is moving between machines."

    Yeah. I actually learned this after having purchased only one 3-pack, but went ahead and bought three more 3-packs just to be legal. With this much attention paid to my setup, I don't want to be caught pirating.

  • Re:Dude, that's lame (Score:4, Informative)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:39PM (#38404884)

    You do realize that it is extraordinarily easy to install cat5e wall plates and drops in most modern homes, right?

    You can use powertools, have an rj45 modular crimping tool, and know where to buy bulk cat5e right? (If not, can I please verify your geek card...)

    All you need is hidden utility closet to house the punchblock and local switch hardware, and you are golden. With how small some of this hardware has gotten, you might even be able to get away with a breakerbox enclosure from lowes, assuming you put some ventilation in it.

    My current home was once refit as a beauty salon by the previous owners, and has so may utility hookups in the living room that I could have a christmas tree made entirely of christmas lights and not blow any fuses (hookups for dryer chairs have beefy amp ratings). If I wasn't such an antisocial recluse, and actually had lan party friends to come over I could really do crazy shit with my place too.

    But I don't, so I haven't and won't. But if you want to run cat5e in your house, the only thing stopping you is inertia, since as far as I know you don't need an electrician to run the stuff, being so low voltage.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday December 16, 2011 @07:55PM (#38405022)

    If all the image needs to do is hold the basic OS and a single game deployment, why not pxe the whole image to a dedicated hardware ram drive, that can make full use of the sata controller?

    Acard has a number of such devices, and while pricey, would absolutely floor disk io performance in a game rig. [acard.com.tw]

    There are quite a few other devices of this type on the market as well.

    Using these in the systems, you could still netload the system images to the game rigs with pxe, but when the image has finished being pushed, just reboot them and you have a bitchin fast row of locally booting systems. Power them off when they need a new configuration pushed.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Friday December 16, 2011 @08:12PM (#38405208)

    I think he's having a mental fault and mixing units.

    32mbps = ~4MByte/s

    which is better than the ~24mbps I get off Comcast (a solid 3MB/s off Steam content servers, at least until my cablemodem starts having seizures.)

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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