My First School Server Deployment

IMG_2327Silar’s orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti, usually has power once a day, often in the time between 12pm to 6 or 7am. In this context, it seemed necessary to have some sort of battery system, for the server, and for charging the 20 XO laptops in the middle of the day. So AC power issues turned out to be a gating issue during this trip to Haiti, just as it was last time I was here.

Adam and I had a budget of about $500 to buy batteries, inverter, and battery charger. We had to find out what was available in the local stores. It turned out that the total cost turned out to be closer to $600.

The inverter shown below was mounted on the left hand wall, but in not shown well in the picture of the batteries.


The electrical wiring for Silar’s orphanage, worked, but didn’t appear very safe. Bare stranded wire was inserted in unmounted electrical receptacles to power a small radio, because the plug was missing.

So I made some effort to make everything a little safer, by installing outlets in electrical boxes, and adding a changeover switch, for the weekly use of the generator during the church service on Sunday (upper right behind wire basket).

Note 3G modem top right

Note 3G modem top right

The SchoolServer installation was mounted right above the battery array, in a wire basket I had brought with me when I thought it would include an external USB disk. (hard disks don’t like being dangled from USB cable).

It turned out that the hard disk I had with me, occasionally would flip into read only mode, and could only be restored for log files, etc, by doing a reboot.  Since reliability was a major objective, Adam and I decided to use an SD card as hard disk instead, and the wire basked might have been overkill.  But it nicely contains the access point, power strip, and XO as a single package that can be taken off the wall, and manipulated as a single unit. (nylon ties hold everything in place)

It’s been 5 days since the school server was installed. The 3G modem, and the openvnp connection appear to have been functioning about 50 hours, or averaging 10 hours per day. I’ve been tweaking the scripts to maximize uptime, but I still have not found a way to simulate physical removal of the USB stick. (I’m handicapped by the fact that the school server does not appear to reboot reliably).


About George Hunt

Retired electrical engineer and programmer, enthusiastic about OLPC as a vehicle for gathering together volunteerism, mine and so many others', for helping education in developing countries.
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One Response to My First School Server Deployment

  1. kab13 says:

    Reblogged this on Sugar Labs @ NDSU and commented:
    Looks like this blog should be our source for XS server information.

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