Lauren recently posted Re-routing, sketching out how we reconfigured our home network. The redesign wasn’t terribly deep or interesting in and of itself, but it made me think about the characteristics of “production” systems.
While a lot of boxes and wires moved around, the key change was the replacement of one box by two. The old box was not just a little bit old, it was really old; a 1998-ish Dell P300 with some derisory amount of memory; I remember, when I bought it, refusing to cough up a bunch of extra money to goose the clock rate to 333MHz, the highest Dell then had. It came with Win95 but I lashed out for “Windows/NT Workstation” because I wanted to do some Serious Computing Dammit. For the same reason, it has a cartridge tape drive. Two horrid mistakes; but let’s not revisit that era.
Anyhow, this poor old box, running Debian, had been talking PPPOE to our ISP, and firewalling, and serving a bunch of unadvertised WordPress sites. The poor thing was really breathing hard; WordPress needs reasonably modern hardware, and editing those sites required meditative patience.
The replacements were a Linksys BEFSR41 to do PPPOE and firewalling, and a Sun Ultra 20 (with the latest OpenSolaris, coolio) for the websites. The Sun was pretty hot stuff back in 2005 when it was new and the AMD CPU remains a meat-grinder, blazingly fast albeit single-threaded. Its 2G of memory seems modest now; but the thing runs a few WordPress sites damn fast. The Linksys we inherited from a friend of Lauren’s, and when I did some research I was astounded to learn that this product is years and years old, and is still apparently in production and for sale. This is just not what you expect in home automation technology.
Anyhow, the combined age of the two “new” components is pushing ten years. They hum along silent, clean, and fast, and I just don’t lose any sleep over whether our network is safe or whether the websites are there.
“Production”: A word usually meaning code running on hardware that’s moving inexorably from mature to obsolescent.