The Wandering Star/Log

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Parent: The Wandering Star

add date & changes here[edit]


We already have a elegant black suitcase. At the moment we're test-fitting the components.


  • Power supply brackets are done and installed. Power supply is also installed
  • Motherboard tray permanently attached to the lid
  • Metal shield installed on top of compactflash reader
  • There is a pattern: disassembly of an individual component is only 3-4 screws !!


  • The ethernet replication port is installed: we have two ethernet plugs, one will be internally crossed.


  • Rough cut of the bracket done, still need some rework. Had to stop working due to late hour and noisy dremel (think of the neighbours)


  • Ongoing work on the port replication bracket. The VGA and USB holes are roughly cut in the support plate. Still need the LEDs and power button.


  • Port replication bracket in place
  • Power switch/led in place but not wired yet.
  • Found a way to cram 4 hard disks in the case: two layers of two disks: one layer on a plate at the bottom of the case, the second on threaded spacers, just above the first layer, leaving some space for the ventilation.
  • Work has started on the software part: we found a mini-ITX board with two ethernet interfaces.

TODO: The disk support plates, the spacers, wiring and ventilation.


  • Made holes for the fans: need more protection grills and fresh 8 cm fans.
  • Harddisk baseplate need to be cut (again): it will be in the way of the air inlet fan.
  • The harddisks will be directly mounted on the baseplate: using rubber spacer will be more troublesome to install and will increase the risk of connector damage or random cable failure due to disk movements. Once the machine is running, it should not be moved. Once it's moving, it should not be running.


The Wandering Star hardware is nearly complete !!

  • The inlet fan is in place, the outlet fan need to be replaced by a fresher one.
  • Some insulating foam is needed around the outlet fan to avoid air short circuit.
  • Hard disk baseplate is in place. There is still some space left for a third location: a new baseplate will be made.


The case is done: no more drilling or cutting will be made !!

  • One ventilator has been replaced
  • The last hard disk support is installed
  • The motherboard is back !! Thanks Erik !! :-)

There will be some light modifications:

  • The bolts holding the power supply and inlet ventilator need to be reversed for accessibility.
  • Blind nuts must be used: exposed threads will damage stuff


  • The Wandering Star had a blast of compressed air to remove all the dust and shavings


  • Motherboard is installed !
  • USB replication is installed.
  • A 160 GB hard disk has been provided and installed.


  • The power supply bolts have been inverted and nuts replaced by blind nuts: accessing the power supply is now very easy.
  • The VGA replication cable is being made. At the moment, the epoxy glue is setting.
  • Started dressing the wires.


The hardware part is now done

  • Ethernet cables are routed properly.
  • The ventilators are now connected to the headers on the motherboard
  • VGA replication cable is installed: had to cut the case a bit more to make room for the screen connector
  • Had to remove the screws of the male VGA connector: not enough clearance
  • The female VGA connector had to be riveted into place: not enough space to squeeze a socket wrench
  • The button/LED is now connected
  • Hard disk and compact flash are hooked up.
  • Only two USB ports are usable: there are not enough headers on the motherboard

2010-06-13: First boot[edit]

  • There is a problem with the static storage that need to be investigated
  • Network boot the machine works: tested with Askarel's CarPC boot image. Only one word: FAST


  • The Wandering Star is back at HSB !!
  • Askarel made a personal order of 512 MiB disk-on-modules. We will test those when they arrive.


  • The compactflash to IDE adapter has been removed and replaced by a 512 MiB disk-on-module.
  • Debian "squeeze" has been installed on the flash module. OpenSSH, OpenVPN and rsync are installed.
  • Current network configuration: ask the DHCP server for an IP address on both interfaces.
  • OpenVPN is not yet configured.
  • The kernel will have to be recompiled: there is 90 MiB worth of modules installed and the vast majority of them are just useless !!
  • Space saving: /usr/share/doc and /usr/share/man are symlinks to /tmp
  • Flash saving: /var/run and /var/lock are on tmpfs filesystems: modified /etc/default/rcS and changed the RAMRUN and RAMLOCK variables to yes.
  • The locales package has been removed: it just take valuable space.
  • The hard disk is not yet configured.
  • Due to the heavy use of tmpfs, swap will be needed. Should be encrypted.


The details of the software setup is here.


The initial smoketest is passed: the inside of the case is nice and cool (at the moment) Continued work on the software part:

  • The VPN is working and connect back to The Gate in Brussels
  • New kernel installed
  • IPv6 tunnel set up and we have a permanent DNS record !!
  • Users are being added.
  • Securing the software part


  • Bigger hard disks installed: It now has 2x200 GiB of storage
  • Hard disks are encrypted. The key is available from "somewhere else", but there is no script at the moment to automagically retrieve it. It has to be fetched manually and the disks have to be mounted manually. This will be fixed next week.