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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve OS X Server
Astonished at the lack of drives available for the old G4 Xserves from Apple, I decided to tear one apart and see what the big deal was. It took 30 seconds to realize that we are dealing with a regular old Ultra-ATA drive! Apple is still getting $499 for the old drives, and if you can find one elsewhere, they are often "used."

Having eight Xserves, all with four 60GB drives in them, I went off to BestBuy and bought all 30 of the 250GB drives they had on sale for $125 each, went back to my data center, and started work on moving them over. Here comes the tip...

Usind an old hint that I found, I downloaded psync to start the transfer on one of the boot drives on a spare server. After psync did its thing, I then cracked open the Terminal to 'bless the new drive:'
$ bless -folder /System/Library/CoreServices
You DO NOT need to bless it for OS 9, as the Xserve won't boot into it. I put the new sled in, and presto ... all 35GB of data was over, and I had about 200GB free now. So for the cost of roughly six sleds, I was able to update all 30. I know most people don't have Xserves, or eight of them, but this is one of those hints I wish I'd have found six months ago.
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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve | 17 comments | Create New Account
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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: Numbski on Sep 14, '04 11:09:26AM

Care to point us to your source of drive sleds? That's the most useful part of your hint. I've known for quite some time that I could get normal drives to work, but the fact that sleds are hard to come by is the problem.



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: capojava on Sep 14, '04 11:32:54AM

Any idea if the sleds in the G5 work the same way? I.e, could I buy an Xserve G5 with 3 80 Gb drives and swap them out for 250 Gb ones?



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Xserve G5 drives are SATA
Authored by: daveschroeder on Sep 14, '04 01:34:32PM

Xserve G5 drives are SATA (Serial ATA), but yes, there's no reason that wouldn't work.



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If my experience with other 1u servers
Authored by: porkchop_d_clown on Sep 14, '04 01:11:21PM

applies, what you have to do is take the old drive off it's sled and put the new drive in it.

Bit of a pain, but not really that hard. Certainly easier than the 1u linux box I had the other day - I had to literally dismantle the frame to get the old drive out.

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Everyone loves a clown, but no one will lend him money!



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: macshome on Sep 14, '04 11:38:31AM

Sure this might work with other drives, but you don't get the huge amount of testing and performance firmware tweaking that Apple puts their drives through. They reject something like ~80% of the drives sent to them for the "enterprise" products and send them back. Those drives then end up in "consumer" places like BestBuy.

Also why use psync just to make a bootable clone? You could just use the restore tab of Disk Utility or asr in the terminal. Then just pick the startup disk in the System Preferences.



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Apple Quality Control
Authored by: tetsuotheironman on Sep 14, '04 12:24:59PM

Where do you get this information from? I've been an Apple technician for quite a while, and their quality control for their products isn't necessarily 'top quailty' imho. Not knocking the brand name, but I doubt they toss %80 of the drives they test.



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Actually, that's true
Authored by: daveschroeder on Sep 14, '04 01:37:08PM

But it's not for ALL drives in all Apple products. It is ONLY for the drives in Xserve and Xserve RAID products. Yes, they're just run of the mill ATA and SATA disks, but they've been put through an extremely thorough battery of tests (more thorough that for consumer products), and many are rejected. In this way, Apple can get the benefits of the traditionally higher quality control of SCSI disks by doing the quality control itself, without the associated higher costs of SCSI.



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Apple Quality Control
Authored by: MorganizeIT on Sep 14, '04 04:10:54PM

I also have my doubts about wether the higher cost is justified by rigorous quality control. I replaced the three 60GB IBM ATA drives from my XServe G4 with 120GB Western Digital drives. The 120GB drives have been running 24/7 without a crash for about a year. The 60GB drives were moved to PowerMac workstations and so far one of them has crashed (intermittent read/write failure, SMART and surface check tests show no errors). I wish I could buy the sleds seperately, I'd be hot-swapping like a 70s car key party.



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Apple Quality Control
Authored by: plambert on Sep 14, '04 05:40:24PM

That's nice that your drives haven't had problems. But we're not talking about 33% failure rates here, where you'd expect that one of your three drives would have a problem in a year.

We're talking about very low failure rates to begin with. This only matters if you have a thousands of drives.

Sure, small customers with one or two or ten Xserves are important. But if you sell someone 1,000 servers with three drives each, then a 1% failure rate means 30 drives. That's a lot.

Yet it means you'd only have a 3% chance of a failure in your configuration. Not such a big deal for you.

It's important to remember that no matter who you are, you are not the _only_ customer Apple has. :-)



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Hot Swapping?
Authored by: saint.duo on Sep 14, '04 03:13:44PM

Have you tried hot swapping any of your new drives yet? I'm curious if it works properly, considering I was told that the firmware on the drives used in the sleds has been modified to hot swap without issues.

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duo



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Hot Swapping?
Authored by: MorganizeIT on Sep 14, '04 04:02:19PM

I've replaced all three of the stock 60GB IBM ATA drives in my XServe G4 with Western Digital 120GB drives. I've had no trouble with hot swapping. However, when I tried to use a 250GB Western Digital drive it wouldn't mount or even show up in disk utility. I installed the 250GB drive into a PowerMac G4 and formatted it but it still was not recognized by the XServe.



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Hot Swapping?
Authored by: m1dg3 on Sep 17, '04 08:26:59AM

I've got Hitachi Deskstar 400GB drives in my XServe and they hot-swap just fine. YMMV.

It takes a bit of brute force and manual dexterity to get the drives in and out of the sleds though...



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: imageworx on Sep 14, '04 04:43:35PM

I thought of doing this with our G5 Xserve, but its SATA. Also, the drive sled IS different than the sled in the Xserve RAID (different sized slot connectors).

But yes, the drives are pretty much ATA or SATA (G5). Trying to buy the Apple Drive Modules without drives is fruitless. (i've tried ASP+ and no luck. Apple wants the market on these. eBay best source for used ones)

BTW- I will be selling two NEW (unused) 80 Gig Xserve G5 drives on eBay next week. I upgraded my Xserve G5 to a Hardware PCI RAID card and three 250GB drive modules. Never even started up the Xserve G5 with the 80GB drives.



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To BeOS or Not to BeOS



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: magi.sys on Sep 15, '04 10:28:35PM

I've known certain drives work in the Xserve, but has anyone had any luck with the Hitachi 400GB drives?



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: m1dg3 on Sep 17, '04 08:29:49AM

I've got two Deskstar 400GB drives in my XServe G4 - no problems so far.



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: magi.sys on Sep 15, '04 10:42:42PM

Oh, one more thing.
All you guys that swapped out the old disks for bigger disks, can you list the brand/model of the drives that you used? Thanks



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Updating drive sleds in a G4 Xserve
Authored by: wnowak1 on Nov 14, '04 02:15:15AM

I've tested several drives, ibm, maxtor, seagate, and others, and all the drives work...even drives larger than 180GB.. They ALL work fine... you can hot swap them as well. I've had no drive failures for over a year now.



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