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01:15:39 PM

Continuing from yesterday's story...

Even after putting a 100 Mbps NIC into the Domino server, I continued to get network errors ("Notes error: Network protocol error: message from server cannot be deciphered,"). I took my laptop downstairs, switched it from the wireless to the wired NIC, and plugged into the same switch as the server, using a brand new cable. The cable from the server to the hub was also brand new, but I still got network errors. I dug out an old, but still good as far as I know, 10/100 mini-hub that I've used while traveling and swapped it for the switch, and I still got network errors.

It seems that the most logical conclusion is that my server just can't keep up with 100 Mbps network. It's not the only possible cause of the problem, but it's the only explanation that doesn't rely on mulitple sources. It's an old 400 MHz processor and it's short on RAM so it swaps. The Notes client load is light, but there's a heavy web load, a lot of spam coming in and being filtered, and it runs a heavy agent load.

For now, I've reverted to using the old 10 Mbps hubs, sans the thin net link. The network probles with the Notes client have gone away. It's even entirely possible that the intermittent problems with high-volume data transfers that I had been experiencing before the upgrade were all due to a flaw in the thin net link, and since 10 Mbps is actually plenty for a home network, so perhaps I can get away with putting off replacing the server for a while longer, but It's more than seven years old, and really overdue.

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Comments :v

1. Jess Stratton02/09/2006 10:55:27 PM

I've seen enough flakey network card behaviour due to the Power Management settings of the cards to mention it...

Not sure what OS your server is, but in device manager, go to the properties of the NIC and make sure power management is off, or at least running on full power all the time.

It got me thinking when you said that it hangs during large file transfers... I've seen that, but it was the card shutting itself off!

2. Richard Schwartz02/09/2006 11:20:42 PM

Hmmm... interesting thought. I'll check it, but this server has been running on the current OS configuration for a very long time and I think I'd have had a lot more problems over the years if there was a power management issue. Still, it's worth checking. As are a few things that Andrew suggested via IM a few minutes ago.

3. Ken Yee02/10/2006 10:26:17 AM

Upgrade that server already...I'm doing mine so I can install Linux on it, and JBoss, and MySQL, and a bunch of other things like media serving. Sounds like its on its last legs anyways (as my old one is...a P266 w/ 200MB of memory .

I suspect that's not the problem w/ your network though. Feels more like a bad hub, so I'd consider swapping in a good netgear switch.

The next logical question is why not go full wifi? It'll get upgraded constantly and WPA seems secure enough finally (more so if you have a RADIUS server installed so the encryption keys get updated constantly). Certainly simplifies that wiring mess.

4. Ken Yee02/10/2006 10:32:15 AM

I'd also consider debugging backwards...take laptop, use reversed cat5 cable, go directly to server, test large files a few times, then add new switch, test again, etc. Rebuild out and test your network piece by piece to find out the thing you add that causes it to flake out. If your switch has an uplink port, plug that reverse cable into it so you stay w/ "known good" stuff.

5. Richard Schwartz02/10/2006 11:05:36 AM

@3: WiFi is already here, but only on laptops upstairs. Desktops, server, printer downstairs I want to keep wired.

@4: If I can dig up a crossover cable, I plan on doing that.

6. Tim Brown02/10/2006 11:22:05 AM

Uh, Rich? What is the ROI on a new Dell box (vastly superior to what you have, but still cheap) compared to your hourly bill rate? :)

7. Richard Schwartz02/10/2006 03:13:15 PM

Tim -- I don't think it will be a Dell. In fact, I know it won't be.

But I think the more important consideration is that the ROI is zero if it's not really addressing the problem. If it is a problem with network devices or cables rather than a problem with the server, a new server won't help. Given the low cost of driving down to CompUSA and picking up a crossover cable, Ken's suggestion in @4 is the best next step.

8. Ben Rose02/16/2006 02:40:47 AM

I'm running gigabit here now, it rocks! :)

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