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Ask Slashdot: Building A Server Rack Into a New Home?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the bitcoin-mining-farm-in-the-closet dept.

Network 402

jawtheshark writes "I'm building a house, and obviously I want a modest network built-in. Nothing fancy, two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room, and that's basically it. I already got myself a rack mountable Cisco Small Business switch and I have a self-built 4U server (low-power, won't make much heat) which can be rack mounted (505mm deep). Now, the construction company suggests a wall mounted rack (6U: 340mm x 600mm x 480mm — 6U definitely won't be enough, but a 12U model exists). It's not expensive, but I have never worked on a rack where the backside is unreachable. (For work, I get to work in a data center with huge racks that are accessible from both sides). Now obviously, I don't need a data center-grade rack, but these wall-mounted racks scream 'switch-only' racks to me. What are your experiences? Is it possible to put servers in racks like these, or should I find a 'both-side-accessible' rack instead?"

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42U - Go Big or Go Home (5, Interesting)

y00nix (775009) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852205)

Why mess around with wall-mount brackets? You'll be cramped for depth when you want to throw in a real PoE switch, or some other gear you're not thinking about now. They also have swing-out racks that you can open the front and back from (as there are hinges on one of the back sides), but you'll pay quite a bit for these. I believe they are somewhere in the realm of $300-350 when we buy them for clients. Personally - I like lots of space, because you never know when you'll want to end up building a home theatre or adding another server, and centralizing all the gear where it should be - the server room. I have 42U 4-post black open frame rack (from a common manufacturer), that I picked up off Craigslist for $150 (normally $400 new)...and put it in a closet I converted into a server room. Put down a new floor, and raised the floor a couple inches where the server rack goes (no underfloor cooling unfortunately). Two dedicated 20A 110V circuits, two 1500VA batteries w/ mgmt cards, two 15A PDUs. CAT6 patch panel in the rack, also have a 2x2 wallboard with 66 block for CAT3 termination. No 6509 yet ;)

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852267)

That's kind of overdoing it. I just use a bunch of those plug computers with wifi.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (4, Funny)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852423)

Why use the outdated rack system anyway? I use cheap free-standing metal shelving and vertically mount motherboards along the shelves - awesome ventilation and looks so cool. Plus, you can put whatever you like in it - all you need is motherboards with whatever you want on them. =D

Building a nice 'super' computer. Beowulf anyone?

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852621)

modular storage and local expansion cards work better in standardized rackable chassis... and it looks way neater than a bunch of freestanding circuit boards... so I guess you'd have to pick between cool and neat.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852817)

I wouldn't agree with the angle of your argument. An industry of modular storage and expansion cards have been built around sandardized rackable chassis, but that in no way makes them 'work better'. =)

Also, I'm a dogged perfectionist, and even I prefer the neatness I can achieve with a custom built free-standing rack with vertically mounted motherboards - we've just been installing a large infrastructure upgrade at work (big iron overly-redundant HP blade system with fiber sans) and I still like the way my vertical rack looks more (neatness + looks) - plus, I think its far more modular than a system that ties you in to a vendor or requires big bucks to fix.

Personal opinion though. =)

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (4, Insightful)

toastar (573882) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852537)

I say get a real rack with wheels, When you move you can take it with you.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852803)

What the OP is doing sounds like what I'm doing. I already bought the rack [newegg.com] and found a nice spot to put it: Under the basement stairs. It comes ready to assemble and I just didn't install the wheels. The rack is 3 feet deep and the stairs are 3 feet wide. It's the perfect place. All I have to do is re-frame the area under my stairs (there is already a roughed in wall of 2x4s) to add in a mounting location for the 12U rack. It just so happens that the stairs are in a centralized location in the house so wiring is going to be much easier. I got a 25 port switch (probably overkill) and a 25 port patch panel to accept all the wire I'll be pulling to it (and a few to spare.)

I realize that not everyone has a basement stairway with both exposed sides, but maybe the OP didn't think about it.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852885)

I'll second that. I scored a 9U road case from a commissioning contract several years ago. It's done sterling duty in a couple of houses and works very well, with built in cable management. It's built like a brick dunny and looks like it'll last forever.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (4, Interesting)

Phelan (30485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852595)

If he has the money to throw around then a rack made for branch offices and network closets with integrated cooling etc like a Liebert MCR would be perfect. Since its basically a plug and play configuration integrating cooling, PDUs etc.

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (4, Funny)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852615)

Go Big or Go Home

But... he's already gone home!

Re:42U - Go Big or Go Home (5, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852665)

Why worry about mounting anydamn expensive thing?
You're building a server room. Got 4 walls? STOP!
Measure 6 ft. from the wall. Put up a wall frame, like you were gonna sheetrock it. Space the 2"x4"s on 17 3/4" centers and use woodscrews for your new 64u rows of racks. This presumes you have 8 ft. ceilings. Got slides? Put another frame 3 ft. behind it. add fans.
Measure out another 5 or 6 ft. if you have another 11 or 12 and put in another room length row of racks. Leave one open in each for rear access. Leave two if you're fat and remove the board in the way.
This creates easy cooling methods using at least 3 halls for this scenario.
If you're in an office building or strip. you can come in on the weekend and tap your neighbors air conditioner to cool your server rooms. All you need is a ladder , some ducting, rivet gun, rivets and a cutoff wheel or tin snips. Send the cool air low to cool the computers and force the hot rising air out. Again duct this INTO your neighbors space, it will encourage them to turn up their air conditioner.
We're talking about cutting costs here friend.
You want a bonus for cutting costs? Promotion? Just save the boss money and draw up some bullshit pie chart to show him just how much. Toot your own horn.
You just set up a kickass server room with total access for replacements and room to expand Expand EXPAND. Cheap.
2x4s and wood screws. Ducting.

A home rack server ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852235)

You must get loads of sex.

It can be done, but... (1)

Manuka (4415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852245)

Get a swing-out rack - the catch is that most wall-mount racks aren't deep enough for servers of any kind.

Re:It can be done, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852705)

I 2nd this. I use an open frame swing out rack in my office since we don't have rack-centralized servers, just router, switch, telephony and surveillance equipment in the racks. They are perfect for just an installation. We have an 18" rack, but there are a few 24" available too

http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/Black-Box-11U-21inH-Ultra-Wallmount-Rack/1468596.aspx?cm_mmc=ShoppingFeeds-_-GoogleBase-_-Power,%20Cooling%20_%20Racks-_-1468596__BLA-RM050A-R2

Go with fiber optic (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852251)

Go with fiber optic. Nothing fancy. Just future proofing. That or conduits with pull strings.

Avoid wall mounts. Those are too limiting. Make space for a rack cabinet, even if a small one like 16U. Don't back it into a wall. Make sure you can move all around. And a small mini-split cooling system just for that room (it will accumulate heat if closed in).

Re:Go with fiber optic (5, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852605)

Dude, if you think the future of connectivity is fiber, you need to leave the 90s and come join us here in 2012. I'm not sure what's so 'future proof' about a relatively temperamental connectivity media that is supported by exactly *no* household devices, and very few wifi access points. As for the "future," I would point out that every high-speed LAN technology started as fiber and then became copper...because fiber is a colossal pain in the ass compared to copper. When something consistently goes from one thing to another, this is called a "trend," and trends tell you about the future. It ain't fiber.

Re:Go with fiber optic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852677)

If I was building some place that I wanted to live the next 15-20 years and could get a spool cheap enough I would run fiber too to all the drops and just leave it in the wall, so 20 years from now in the slight off chance fiber is a medium you are prepared, or your turn your house into a data center. Fiber is relatively cheap, terminating it isn't though.

Re:Go with fiber optic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852819)

'a spool'...so, you're deciding on ONE type of fiber? You do realize there are more than one spec of fiber in use today...Are you picking the future-proof one?

Re:Go with fiber optic (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852873)

Fiber probably is going to be the future still, at least for "in room" high bandwidth devices. Yes it's a pain in the ass, yes it's not fun to setup and get working. But it blows the hell out of copper for terms of throughput. What I would do, is wire in both. If you have the time and money. At worst, you'll be pulling the RJ45+CAT out in 20 years anyway, so if something better than fiber comes along, you can still string and pull the new stuff through.

Just remember that trends don't always point to the future. Up here in Canada 8-tracks were the trend, but already dead in the US. Coax based networks were a trend too, but those were replaced by the up and coming RJ45. Everyone hated the termination, T-splitters, the possibility of breaking a run by simply stringing, and so on. The real problem with fiber is the initial setup and startup cost, those fall through the floor and it'll be back in the mainstream.

Hinged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852255)

Just the the wall mount rack that is hinged. The whole thing swings out for rear access.

Re:Hinged (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852701)

He's talking about a server, not a sex dungeon.

Re:Hinged (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852883)

He's talking about a server, not a sex dungeon.

Meh, better to think ahead. Otherwise you'll end up retro-fitting a sex dungeon after... at greater expense. Just ask the CEO of Broadcom: "Billionaire sought secret lair for sex, drugs, complaint says"

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nicholas18jul18,0,7022711.story [latimes.com]

Portable half-rack (2)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852257)

Assuming that you aren't installing raised floors and a HVAC unit, there are plenty of racks, both full and half hight available. Or you can look at portable rack systems for shows. You can hide it in a closet (well ventilated) and pull it out to work on it.

Hinged (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852259)

We use wall mounted racks that swing out (hinged) so the back is accessible. They are available in just about any size you like. I highly recommend this if you do want to mount on a wall. Having no easy access to the back of a wall mounted rack is really a pain in the ***.

I'd want backside access... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852261)

My rack could "swing out" from the wall to get at the backside, I had it mounted on the side wall of a closet.

Yeah, go with your gut! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852263)

Those wall mounted racks are generally for patch panels/switches/kvms/etc.. would definitely get something that sits on the floor if you want to put servers in there. You can probably get away with one (if you have the depth) .. but for the minor added cost, I'd go with a basic 4 post open floor mount rack.

Either way, there is absolutely no need to guess here. Any network rack or enclosure will advertise a load/weight limit. Add up the weight of your gear and subtract it from said advertised limit. If it's less than 0, get something sturdier!

(I'll also throw out there, some of the wall mounted units can swing out for access to the back.. worth it if you are using punchdown based patch panels.. probably not worth it otherwise)

One other caution.. make sure you've got actual studs where you plan on hanging this thing. Builders are getting cheap.. and your wallmount racks weight capacity is only as good as what your wall can handle!

I'd also be concerned with noise. I have to assume (though this is guess work) that mounting noisy equiptment directly to a wall is not going to end well.

Simply Put: Hell No (4, Informative)

daphx86 (1276210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852269)

At work we have 1U servers mounted on a two post rack. Every time I have to do any kind of work on the rack I basically have to do yoga to get at the back of the rack.

As nice as it is to get a full body workout every time something needs to be added to or removed from the rack, I would strongly suggest you avoid racks that can't be accessed from the back like the plague.

On the upside I have discovered unique ways to string together curse words while fumbling behind the rack.

Also plan for RG-6 for cable / satellite runs (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852273)

Also plan for RG-6 for cable / satellite runs

Re:Also plan for RG-6 for cable / satellite runs (2)

puck01 (207782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852661)

Agreed. I have two runs of RG-6 to each room in my house plus two runs of Cat6a. Use quad shielded RG-6 coax, btw, its a must for some systems such as satellite. Doing this now will prevent lazy installers from drilling holes all over your house later

tele com rack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852275)

your dealing with telecom racks which probably don't have back rails for the servers, look somewhere else and get a good rack, buy one and have the contractor install it that way there is no question.

Cooling? (1)

n5vb (587569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852295)

Hoping the closet you converted has an exterior facing wall where you can install a dedicated window AC unit. You'd be surprised how much heat can come out of even one rackmount server unit..

Re:Cooling? (1)

farnsaw (252018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852337)

He already stated that it is a self built low power unit so it should not need a dedicated AC unit, but good ventilation is a must as well as in a cool location, such as the basement will help. He should keep it off the floor if it is in the basement... flooding happens.

Re:Cooling? (3, Interesting)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852797)

I always wondered if a home server could be water cooled with the cold water supply that ran into your hot water tank. You could even take an old water heater, strip the burner and insulation, and use that as your supply/exchanger tank, as the hot water line won't always be running. My dad did something similar with an old water heater tank to keep the basement cooler for wine storage.
One of these days I might have to try it.

Re:Cooling? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852875)

I wonder if anyone has ever converted an old refrigerator into a server closet. Sealed from dust and moisture. Sound dampening. And cool. To hell with thermal efficiency or cost effectiveness. Or ease of use.

Wheels. (2)

MrLogic17 (233498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852307)

Wheels.We've got racks in tight corners, and the solution was to put the rack on wheels, and a lot of slack on everything going to the rack.

Keep in mind that the diagonal of a square is longer than the side. Leave room to rotate without mashing hands.

Use drawers in the rack (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852309)

If you use drawer slides in the rack, and use reasonable lengths for wiring, it could work. Another option would be to build a hinged frame to mount the rack on, so it can rotate out from the wall. Or, put it on/in a wall where you can open up the backside of the wall with a door that gives you access (I'm assuming the back of the rack isn't a solid panel). This would also make it easier to route cables down inside the wall.

Check Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852313)

Check out middle atlantic stuff. Consider either a swing out or roll out rack.
They _will_ have something that meets your needs.

two RJ-45 per room (-1, Flamebait)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852325)

two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room. I have a self-built 4U server

Hey, 1998 called it wants its computers back.

First, off there is this invention called WiFi. No more need to put wires in the walls for networking. Also, you build a 4U server? Come on, turning a beige box into a server went out years ago. For the cost (and hassle) of your rack build, you can have small footprint servers with plenty of space in the internal drives. If not, you can plug in a kindle-sized USB 3.0 harddrive for an added 3TB of space.

I call bullshit or the submission queue for Ask Slashdot is REALLY long.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (4, Insightful)

menos (112815) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852367)

And wifi speeds suck compared to gigabit ethernet. And exactly how am I supposed to replicated my 47tb with 'small footprint' servers?

Re:two RJ-45 per room (1)

Lime Green Bowler (937876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852475)

My house is all WiFi connected, but my desktops have extra NICs with gig connections to my server for backups that don't take forever. Wireless is the AOL of connection media- so easy, your grandmother can use it. But it's not good for serious transfers.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (-1, Troll)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852503)

It's a home network! If you really need professional grade, get space at a colo. It amazes me how people get all into being superior with their computers at home, but forget about not having redundant power, redundant networking, locked cages. I bet this guys biggest computer issues with his "home server" won't be the speed of the network or the CPU power. It will be keeping the cat from sleeping on it or keeping Cheerios out of the USB slots.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (4, Insightful)

menos (112815) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852707)

Exactly why do I need reduntant power, redundant networking and locked cages for a home network? All I need is tons of storage and very fast interconnects. Every PC in my house does backups to the server. The same server also serves media to all the media devices in the house. There is a middle ground between grandma checking her email and a professional web host. Some people's requirements may be different than yours. Deal with it.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (3, Informative)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852725)

So... Redundant everything isn't enough, but you call him out for extravagances like Ethernet?

What a tool.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852377)

That's why datacenters are all WiFi right?

Re:two RJ-45 per room (0)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852529)

See above.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (2)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852417)

Those of us that are concerned about security prefer wired connections. Also, for high bandwidth consumption environments or environments where you want low latency the wired connections are going to serve you better.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852429)

I call bullshit on the wifi. The effectiveness of wifi is greatly limited by the structure of the house. Having wifi in an area like a room or 2 is fine. You will definitely want cabling throughout the house with wifi hotspots. A friend of mine at work has had nothing but headaches and frustration trying to get wifi-only in his new house. He is grateful that he went ahead and had it cabled too. Wifi is great for local connectivity but for kickass, reliable, speedier connections you still can't beat cable. I'd opt for all house fiber optic before all house wifi.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852431)

The WiFi that's been around for years and still can't reach the, now basic, 1Gbit/s speed of wired ethernet? No thanks. Today, I'd go for CAT6a wiring.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852495)

I'd go with fiber optic, at least along side the cats.

Re:two RJ-45 per room (1, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852525)

I had a house wired just like OP, with one Cat 6 wired RJ45 per room, every 15 feet or so in the big rooms. I thought it would be awesome! In the server closet (upstairs, in the middle of the house, in a closet) I had a wifi hotspot, a WRT54G. Because of its high, central location, I got great wireless access everywhere in the building. (actually, most of the city block)

Guess how often I used the wired plug ins? (Hint: It was very rare.)

I moved. My new house has no RJ45 connectors in the walls. I don't miss them much. When I need the speed, (EG: LAN parties) I have a 50' Cat6 cable I roll along the ground. Nobody minds much rolling it up at the end of the day.

You aren't running a data center. If you want to do that, get a job where you get to. Otherwise, spend $50 on a used wifi router on Craigslist or Ebay, mount it up high in the attic, and forget about it.

Spend the money and time you save getting a girlfriend. (or making the one you have happier)

Re:two RJ-45 per room (2)

klui (457783) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852601)

WiFi is adequate if you're forever alone or you're the only one using the spectrum. A home with 2 adults, 2 kids, and a bunch of personal devices that stream media from a central server, dedicated ethernet is the way to go.

Cooling issues.. (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852329)

A switch might be able to survive in an "airing cupboard" without particular cooling but even a "quiet" 4RU server is going to produce more heat than you want in a closed cupboard.

That said, unless you're going to die in this house, installing more than a wiring cupboard seems to be a massive waste of space that would make me want a discount on the future sale of the house.

Put a couple of the RJ45 points in the garage and the server in there, on a shelf.

Re:Cooling issues.. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852737)

That said, unless you're going to die in this house, installing more than a wiring cupboard seems to be a massive waste of space that would make me want a discount on the future sale of the house.

If you think you're going to die in the house, then maybe your money would be best spent guarding against that death. How about security glass for the windows, perhaps a house wide Exorcism if you think your death will come from supernatural means. A chainsaw or axe may help fend off a zombie invasion. Maybe make the home environment safer - GFCI and AFCI's on every outlet, hardwired and monitored fire alarms, fire sprinklers, sturdy handrails on stairways, shorter stairways with multiple landings to help reduce the consequences of a fall, etc. Maybe stock up on extra first aid supplies, a defibrillator, and, depending on your financial situation, perhaps a small operating room along with appropriate staff.

These seem like a better way to spend your money if you think you're going to die in the house.

Re:Cooling issues.. (1)

klui (457783) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852765)

Unless you have an enclosed cabinet with air filters, placing delicate equipment in the garage doesn't seem like a good idea. All that dust and extra heat unless your garage is insulated.

roll your own. (2)

Maglos (667167) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852335)

make a closet, get two peices of 2"x2" angle aluminium, drill your holes, get self taping screws and firmly bolt it to your closet frame. Cantilever your equipment; just avoid heavy long 1u equipment. Option 2, go to a computer recycler, I can get a full sun rack for $150.

Build Your Own (1)

okeuday (2251374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852339)

I built a rack mounted on a dolly, using Home Depot items for about $100. It is basically a frame of pipe (normally used for natural gas) all threaded and fit together with the normal connectors, with 4 flanges on the bottom to mount to the dolly. The dolly was the cheapest available at Home Depot since casters are normally expensive, just had to take it apart and shorten the length a little, to make everything a normal rack size. It stands about 4.5 ft high and can be moved easily, which is nice when you are just moving in-between apartments.

Vertical Rack (2)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852341)

I have a 4U server that I built hanging vertically on the wall in my wiring closet at home using one of these: http://istarusa.com/claytek/products.php?model=WUT-40B [istarusa.com] . My case has lots of fans, so no problem moving the air vertically through it, and I left enough space below it to afford access to the connectors. They make other sizes of vertical mounts which may be more appropriate for your switch. It isn't a full rack, but it is a lot cheaper than a full rack, more practical than a full rack, and you can always upgrade later.

Middle Atlantic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852345)

I have a EWR-12-22 from Middle Atlantic
12 units high
22 inches usable depth
150 lbs capacity
In addition to the front door, the whole unit swings out to get to the back, so it's very easy to work on.
Just make sure it's lag-bolted to something strong :)

Avoid the wall-mount, and here's how I did it. (5, Informative)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852347)

I have seen wall-mount racks that side-mount to the wall, leaving the front and back of equipment accessible. That said, I'm not wild about any of the wall mount racks, at some point they will all be a pain.

If you have the floor space a small, 4 post cabinet is the way to go. You can often find used ones around for cheap. 4 post is preferred if you're going to have any quantity of systems in them. If the system count is low, and you won't do any 1RU or 2RU systems, a 2-post telco rack is super cheap and might take up less space. I put one in a basement a few years back. 4RU's mount fine with just front rails (screwed in, not on slides of course), and switches, routers, patch panels all work fine in a 2 post setup. Run a 20A dedicated run to it with a computer grade power strip down the side and you're set for life.

FWIW, having done a few houses, my recommendation is that each jack position get 5 cables, 3xCat5e and 2xRG6. These get terminated on a 6 position keystone, 2xRJ45 Network on top, 2x2-line RJ-11 (4C) in the middle, sharing the third Cat5 (blue/orange first jack, green/brown second), and then two RG6's get Coax jacks on the bottom.

The wire cost is low, additional pull cost is low. You pay a small amount to terminate all of that. However, you now have more than you'll ever need everywhere. That Sat system down the road, 2xCoax, check. Desktop and VoIP phone, 2 jacks, check. Home and business land lines, check. Buy keystone rack panels for your new rack, a row of network, next to the switch, row of telephone next to some splitters and/or DSL filters (if necessary), row of cable next to splitters and amps for whatever system type you have. Below that machines as necessary.

Far easier to pull up front than to be frustrated and without later.

Re:Avoid the wall-mount, and here's how I did it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852541)

I love u.

Another suggestion.. (3, Insightful)

n5vb (587569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852357)

If the drywall isn't up yet, take the opportunity now to run PVC conduit to the server rack closet from the room locations where you're planning on Ethernet drops, and possibly to other locations where you might want to run AV cable later on, such as likely mounting locations for a ceiling-mounted projector. It'll save you a ton of work later drilling through studs and firestops later on. Even if you don't run the cable now, you can run a fish tape through conduit and pull cable through it without having to cut through drywall to route it, especially in rooms that have no access to the top or bottom of the wall space.

I'll also agree with y00nix on the impossibility of having too much rack space. You never know what you might decide to install later, and more rackspace (and preinstalled conduit, see above) give you more expansion options. Trust me, 5-10 years down the road if not sooner, you're going to want to put more stuff in that closet. :D

Re:Another suggestion.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852463)

If the drywall isn't up yet, take the opportunity now to run PVC conduit to the server rack closet from the room locations where you're planning on Ethernet drops, and possibly to other locations where you might want to run AV cable later on, such as likely mounting locations for a ceiling-mounted projector.

Mod this up.

DO NOT PULL RAW CABLE. Use conduit so you can always change cable *when* needed.

Re:Another suggestion.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852555)

Running open ended pvc pipe could be a building code violation. At the very least, you'd have to look into fire blocking the ends after installation. Even with plenum rated cables, you could be denied for a fire claim due to this 'neat' addition.

Get a wall mount rack that swings from the rear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852365)

All problems solved.

Lack Rack (3, Informative)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852407)

Have you considered building a Lack Rack [eth-0.nl] ? You could do a small stack. Then, you don't need to build anything into your house and it's relocatable.

Re:Lack Rack (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852749)

Have you considered building a Lack Rack [eth-0.nl] ? You could do a small stack. Then, you don't need to build anything into your house and it's relocatable.

Neat, now I can put my drink somewhere and enjoy the soothing whirring sound of a server running at full blast.

Get a rolling half cab, plan for later space usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852415)

At home I have a full 42U server rack, why? Because I bought it from a company that was shutting down for super cheap. If I was in your place, I'd but a half-ish height rolling rack. StarTech (among others) sells them [amazon.com] for less than a thousand dollars.

I'd take whatever space you need and at least double it. Give yourself extra space for cable mgmt (because you can), assume you might want an extra server in there someday and don't forget the other gear you might add. Even if it's not rack mount - some UPS will probably be a very wise investment and take up at least a couple U of space (more if you put em on a shelf).

Mobile rack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852425)

We have a 1/2 size mobile rack that has 24U of space, on 4 rollers and it has soundproofing sides and front door with glass. Just make a closet big enough to roll it into and there you go.

You're not building a "house" (2)

sk999 (846068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852453)

>

Let's face it - you're designing an office building. Ignore the construction company - make yourself a machine room with a raised floor, fluorescent lights, extra HVAC, the works. You may not need it all now, but you're going to need it eventually to keep all those RJ-45 jacks humming ...

The same thing you do at work for maintainability (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852459)

You need to keep the wires and crap out of the way, you need to be able to get to all sides of the unit regardless of what it is. It needs to stay clean.

While you're building that also integrate the A/V system in and set it up the same way in the same clean room. Have AC, humidity control and filtering preferably HEPA filtering on the incoming AC since it should never have heat you'll want a unit just for that and a temperature control that will keep it at the right temp. It doesn't take much and even if it's a small room it's worth it in the long run. Insulate the room from the rest of the house no sense spending money cooling the house in the winter.

I've set them up before so they're easy to maintain and easy to rip the hell out and start over. The systems I've installed start and $25,000 as a base with four rooms covered.

Your TVs should be able to accept streaming video if not trash it and start over.

Hinged or 25U (1)

eagle8635 (674636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852471)

Second (or fiftieth) on the swing out/hinged wall-mount rack, if you want wall mounted, it's the best way to go. (I haven't used them in IT, but I have used sound equipment in a swing out rack and it's great when you need to add or change something quickly). I would avoid a 42U rack in a home environment unless you *know* that you will need all that space (also, many 42U racks will not fit through the average closet door). A good compromise may be a 25U rack, a simple four-post design is very affordable (especially when compared to the overall cost of building a new home) and should provide more than enough space. Utilizing sliding mounting rails and cable management arms should reduce the need for access to the rear of the rack enough that you can just push it against a wall and forget about it.

You have your own house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852483)

Do you also have one of these 'wives' I keep hearing about? How do I land myself one of those?

CL (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852509)

I bought a full height enclosed rack with cooling fans for $100 off Craigslist. It's on wheels so when I don't need to access it, it slides into a gap between the water heater and chest freezer. Just make sure all of the cables going in/out of it have enough slack for sliding it around a few feet.

What do you really need? (1)

maciarc (1094767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852511)

There's a rack that will fit your situation. Browse some manufacturer's sites: http://www.lowellmfg.com/ [lowellmfg.com] , http://www.middleatlantic.com/ [middleatlantic.com] and http://www.chiefmfg.com/Racks/ [chiefmfg.com] to name a few.

They have racks that wall mount, floor mount, mount in custom woodwork and built into desks. They have fans to deal with heat and power strips too.

Two-post telco rack (2)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852519)

I use a two-post telco rack.
The network patch blocks panels mount right on it and so do all switches and routers.
For computers, I buy center-mount shelving. For the odd electronic device, a cantilevered shelf does the trick.

The two-post telco racks are fantastically inexpensive and are easy to fit in a furnace room or utility room. Since you're in a house, combining the network wiring with the servers economizes in space.

If you want to go fancy check out Smarthome.com.

Pass through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852551)

Depending on the room, you can buy two of the deeper wall mounts and cut a hole through the wall (if possible, obviously) and mount one on each side, so you get the benefits of the wall, but still some depth for servers and the like. Depends on your taste, but that's probably something I would do.

Follow the example (2)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852565)

There are reasons why racks are set up the way they are, with space around them, the back accessible, and so on. Follow that example. And don't ask the construction company how to essentially build a small data center...they don't know. Don't wall-mount, but do anchor whatever rack you install to the floor. Have some space around it, and be able to vaccuum out dust (since you'll have a bigger problem with that than most data centers). Also, if you put it in the basement, make sure you have all power a decent distance up off the floor. I don't know your environment or climate, but minor flooding does happen in basements, and what would normally just be a bit of a mess can become a disaster if you have a PDU low enough to get wet. I don't agree at all with the idea of fiber for everything...whatever that guy is smoking, I'm sure I won't keep my job if I have any myself. (Yeah, for that guy...how many household electronics come with fiber interfaces? Or, for that matter, wifi access points with fiber connections?)

Look at any holy trinity of a server room, and scale to your liking. Patch panel, networking gear, server space. A half-height rack should do you just fine, and still be quality enough that the whole thing will look nice and sanitary. Velcro strips for cable management will be your friend as well, to keep it all super-sano, especially the cable bundles coming out of the rack. Oh, and if you're really interested in making some things easier to trace, there are now ethernet cables that light up at both ends, so that you hit a button on one end and can see the other end light up. The light stays on for about 30 seconds, and it's a godsend if you have a significant cabling area.

Rolling rack (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852583)

I went with the rolling half rack. Easy peasy, $100 at the surplus. Just make sure you secure it in case of earthquake.

Home or office? (1)

namgge (777284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852633)

I may have misunderstood the scale of what you are trying to do, but... It seems to me you're trying to turn a domestic environment into a semi-industrial/work one. A server rack will consume a lot of power, generate a lot of heat, create a lot of noise, the the server will depreciate in value rapidly and you'll probably need to install fire barriers and get a special insurance policy if you want cover. Don't get married before you start this project, at least that way you'll save the cost of the divorce.

@home racks (1)

Vic Metcalfe (355) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852647)

I used to have two full sized racks in my basement. I had smoked glass doors on the front side into my home office, and a storage room behind them so that I could get to the backs of them.

I also built a small data-centre with 12 full sized racks, and for it I had a 12RU box wall mounted in addition to the floor models which I used for the main routers and telephony. It was on hinges and swung away from the wall so that I could get at the back. I don't recall the price, but I know it wasn't cheap. Also I had trouble with the cable management between the equipment mounted in it, and the fibre and other feeds coming into it.

Either way I think you're correct that having access to the back is pretty much a requirement for it to be very usable.

BTW, I got rid of all my racks in the end. I gave away my hosting business and consolidated my home stuff into a couple of towers that sit on a desk. I now have a nice wood lathe where the old racks used to sit. I mounted my home routers and switches into the joists with wood screws. Maybe you don't need a rack at all?

Definitely need back access. (3, Interesting)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852651)

Just my opinion, but speaking from experience, you will want front and back access. EASY front and back access. I've tried the slide-out rails, but frankly, I'd rather just walk around back and eyeball the connections myself. It's surprisingly difficult to change something when you're working at an angle.

We built all of our racks into a wall, but we cheated: it's a wall between rooms. (The "Technical Information Center" and the "Technical Operations Center" -- TIC and TOC.) :) We just walk around back and tinker to our heart's content, while the people who walk by the Engineering area in our studios get to see pretty blinky lights and other stuff through the glass. You might consider mounting your server into the wall with its butt in a closet. That way, you not only hide the wires, you simply walk into the closet for good access.

You will tell yourself, "I hardly ever change anything." You'll try to convince yourself that a little side access should be a plenty. But again, speaking from experience, you'll regret.

Oh ... and don't forget that server needs to breathe. If it's farting out several cubic feet of air per minute into that closet or wall-mounted rack, you'd better plan on a fan to pull that hot air out of there. (Again, speaking from experience.)

Verticle? (2)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852681)

Just get a metal bracket and hang the server vertically (or invert it so that the cold to hot flow is from bottom to top. That takes up a LOT less room. But if you want a full sized one, I have a full height full cage rack in my garage you are welcome to have for free. But you pay shipping. :-)

Really Resplendent Rolling Racks Rock (1)

bearded_yak (457170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852733)

If you can find the room, consider those recommendations you've seen for a rolling rack. At my last job, I had in my office a little rolling rack in which I used to keep a 4U server, 4U UPS, and several switches. I often kept it closed and locked (it had auxiliary fans and vents), but you may not have that need. It was the most versatile setup I had. It was small enough to put into a corner out of the way, but gave me full access to the equipment when needed. If it hadn't been painted an awful orangish-pinkish color that absolutely sent your eyes into convulsions, it could have been mistaken for a cubist table (with some mysterious fan noise).

I don't know if building codes would allow it, but I've often thought of creating a actively-ventilated rack-garage in a kitchen peninsula (or similar) into which one could roll a short rack and then roll down a retractible door. Of course the potential for liquid spill incursion would have to be taken into consideration.

In any case, I cannot imagine the frustration of using a wall rack for a server. Swing-away would seem to make it better, but all the swing-away racks I've ever used or seen (cheap or expensive) develop hinge-sag and can get difficult to swing closed.

"moderate. nothing fancy." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852753)

And then you want two RJ45 per room, four in the living room, and a -4- unit server at home. You, my dear nerd, is the computer world's equivalent of a muscle car redneck.

Only if you are running Token Ring! (1)

Gim Tom (716904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852755)

I worked at a site with wall mounted racks, but it was all Token Ring and the MAU's did not have any ports on the back and were not powered. I still didn't like them and when I was given the assignment of converting the entire site to Ethernet the wall mounted racks were a pain the butt until I could replace them. For what you are wanting to do I would absolutely want access to both the front and back side of the equipment -- without a wall in the way.

don't bother with wall mount (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852761)

As you surmised, wall mount racks are switch only. I went through the same intellectual process and saw no solution but to buy a floor standing rack. It sits in my garage and is accessible from both sides. Mine has a large enough footprint to be stable, but if you get one of those skinny spidery racks, you should sink some bolts into the floor to make sure you don't have a sudden gravity-induced catastrophic failure.

If your equipment has redundant supplies, you should plug them in separate circuits. I did this after a GFI blew and took out my servers. I wasn't even aware that the GFI in the master bath was on the same circuit as the plug in the garage.

If you're interested in battery backup, instead of a dedicated UPS, consider a true sinewave inverter (available on amazon) and a couple of marine batteries (available almost anywhere) fed by a heavy duty battery charger. Why? Because it's easier to switch to solar later if you're so inclined.

Ugly hack that happens to work really well (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852769)

Hinged racks are really expensive ... just buy a conventional wall-mounted rack and mount it on regular hinges. It's nice to carve 10cm or so into the wall so that cables fit nicely when you close it. Front and back access without using much room. Another thing I've done when not much room is available is build a trap door in the wall where the wall-rack will be mounted. When you need to access the backside, you just go to the other room and pull out the trap door. If none of this is feasible, just mount the servers in rails. Without a hack like this, wall-mounted racks are just for switches and other devices with front connectors.

Why use a rack at all? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852771)

If all you need is space for a network switch and a single server, why not put the server in a desktop case, and put both the rack and the switch on a shelf. Or just keep it in the rackmount case and put it on the shelf.

Or, if you're looking for something to impress your friends when they see your server room, put in whatever it is that impresses your friends. With lots of blue LEDs.

two words - rack slides (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852775)

Commonly used for decades, you get some quality rack slides that let you pull things out far enough to get to the back sides of them. Remember, the standard 19" rack has been around a long time, and this situation also - consider a Navy boat or an AWACs plane with stuff mounted to the walls - same problem, and they need quick access. I never knew what those things cost new, because for a long time they were almost give-away surplus. Probably an almost lost tech now, but they really made some quality stuff back then, self-lubed surfaces, some would let you rotate the gear after sliding it out, all kinds of good stuff. They did make things protrude from the front about 1/4", because the rack slide mounts to the rack, then the gear mounts to that - so you have one extra metal/screw thickness involved.

SMARTNET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852789)

Better not forget your smartnet contract. HAHAHAHa

You HAVE to be able to get to the back (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852809)

If you aren't then all your geek credentials will be revoked.

Some people have recommended a hinged rack that swings out. I would suggest a rack on wheels. IMO using a rack is not crucial. The only crucial thing is having easy access to all the connections and all the equipment.

Lots of good ideas here: Remain versatile (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852839)

Also brings back memories. I built a house years ago and ran wires within the walls--for a Lantsastic network! This was before widespread ethernet, of course. Then WiFi showed up. I laugh at my own lack of foresight! I fooled myself.

I applaud your efforts. Just plan for MORE rack space and keep your versatility. Everything will be connected. Sounds like fun. Wish I could do it again.

Split your equipment (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852851)

Use a wall mounted rack for the switch, patch panels, etc. for all the CAT6 runs to various rooms. You'll only need front access for this stuff.

Get a half rack for the servers. Put it on wheels so you can pull it out of the closet, turn it around to access the back, etc. There will only be a couple of Ethernet drops from the switch to the moveable cabinet, so you won't pull loose all the house network wiring every time you move it.

Run more wire (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852863)

A couple suggestions:

1) Run more wire. Nobody ever said "Damn, I ran too many cables while the walls were open". It's really cheap to do now. You also may want to run some quad-shielded coax for future cable or satellite hook-ups. You might not want 'em now, but the cable's really cheap.

2) If you have an attic and a basement, run a good-sized conduit between the attic and the basement. Like 2" or larger. Leave it empty except for a pull cord. This will make it very easy to pull any future wires between the floors, and once again it's absurdly cheap to do while the walls are open.

XRackPro - Noise Reducing Server Rack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39852867)

If I could afford one of these I would get one in a heartbeat:
http://xrackpro.com/

noise reducing with air filter options

A closet behind it (1)

Kilroy1218 (2478894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852881)

I have a friend whos house has two rather nice entertainment systems in his basement. They are both managed from the same central location where a shelving unit, which would be similar to a rack mount is accessible from a door that swings out and faces the main area. Then in order to get behind the shelves easier they put a closest on the back side so that theres more storage space and the rear of the shelves are accessible.

Buy a 42U surplus rack (1)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852895)

Find a surplus sale and buy a used 42U rack.

Home run all the Cat 6 into the rack (you are having all the phones wired with Cat 6 right?) and add a patch pannel
Also have all the house cable home run into the rack plus a couple runs of fiber from the telco service entrance just to be future proof.
Feed the rack a dedicated 220v circuit with an in rack PDU.

If possible have a 2-3" conduit run from the entertainment center to the rack for media PC use so you can run HDMI or whatever comes next without opening up walls.

Don't build it in, just build for it (3, Informative)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852899)

Agree with others that have suggested "go big or go home". If you're the type of person that thinks about installing a server rack in your house, a 6U or 12U rack probably isn't going to be big enough for long enough. Plus, as you've noted, the smaller racks are really designed for network equipment, not servers. If you're going to put a server in there, you may as well go for at least a half rack. And I'd really recommend a four post setup with sliding rails for whatever servers you end up putting in there - it just makes things so much easier. You'll inevitably end up needing to upgrade RAM or something, and it's a huge PITA if you have to pull the whole server out of the rack. Plus, four post racks are readily available second hand on craigslist.

As to your comment about two cat5 jacks per room and four in the living room - as someone who did exactly that four years ago when I build my house I can tell you that you're boxing yourself in. If you're going to have a home office, you probably want to put at least four jacks in there. For your living room, just think about all the stuff you may someday have that will want cat5. I have an Apple TV, Samsung TV, Xbox, Bluray, and a PC. I ended up putting a 5 port switch in my entertainment center, and it may well be more cost effective to only run one network jack to a small switch at locations where you need higher port density. Most home stuff doesn't have really high throughput requirements, so losing the single highspeed backplane of a centralized switch isn't a huge issue. The only issue here would be (as in my case) if you need PoE on some of those ports.

Here are a few other things I'd do differently if I was building again and had a budget for this sort of thing:
1) Run a min 20A (30A is even better) dedicated circuit with a twist lock connector to the rack's location. If you want to get a rackmount UPS in the 2000-3000VA range, it will probably require this.
2) Install sound deadening around the rack - network equipment is typically pretty noisy
3) Plan for cooling - if you can run an A/C duct to the rack's location that's good, but plan for how you're going to keep stuff cool when the rest of the house has reached your target temperature and the central A/C turns off for 30 minutes. You may want to look at one of the smaller portable A/C units that you can duct either into the crawlspace (check local codes about this, you may run into problems with mold if you duct moist air up there), or outside.
4) Run CONDUIT - this is probably the biggest tip I can give you. If you're able to install wall boxes and such before drywall goes up, spend $100 on a roll of blue flex conduit and run that from your wall boxes up into the attic/crawlspace. Make sure to stub the conduit up high enough so that any blown-in insulation doesn't cover the top of it. You'll be so glad you did this in a few years when you want to upgrade or add more wiring.
5) Cable management - don't overlook it. Patch panels and wire management to and at the rack make life so much nicer. You can get by without it but if you do a really nice job you'll find yourself wanting to show it off to your friends to impress them (unfortunately, it usually just draws a blank stare). 6) K.I.S.S. - since I'm a network engineer, I built my home network with a cisco router, AP and switch, created VLANs and public/private WiFi networks, then realized that most consumer level tech isn't designed to be compatible with that in the least. Take Apple TV for instance - it relies on network broadcasts. If you have an iPad or iPhone with airplay and want to send a stream to your Apple TV, the two devices have to be on the same network. There's no way to manually enter device IP addresses to get two devices on separate subnets to talk to each other. Naturally, if your PCs are on a private network with the Apple TV, that's well and good, but what if a friend comes over and connects to your public WiFi and you want him to be able to use airplay from his iPhone? I've had similar problems with Slingbox, etc. That kind of stuff just isn't designed to work on a network any more complicated than what you get with your standard Linksys router.

Hopefully some of this is helpful to you.

Experience says you are a noob (4, Insightful)

lanner (107308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39852903)

I am some guy who has done stuff like this, including oversaw the construction of a custom condo where I directed certain changes be made to accommodate data networking and a little server room. For my day job, I sysadmin and have directed the construction of a modern mid-size data center (30 racks) and multiple office environments. I oversee lots of structured cabling installations.

I have beat my head against the wall many times, over stupid stuff. So, let me give you some advice.

For example, the fact that you want a 4U rackmount anything in your home is just crazy. Knock it off. You really don't want anything rackmount in your home, though that is the only form factor you are going to find larger switches in.

No professional sysadmin or programmer would put a rackmount server in his home because he knows it is stupid. There is a reason you put computer guts into that form factor and those same reasons do not apply in your home. Get over it.

You are using the logic of "Penguins are Black and White. Some Old TV Shows are Black and White. Therefore, Some Penguins are Old TV Shows" . Just because professionals use rack servers in data centers doesn't mean you are a professional when you put one in your home.

You almost certainly do not want a rackmount chassis for your server. Instead, use a desktop chassis which meets your needs (or whatever is cheapest). The only time you might use a rackmount chassis would be for mounting it directly onto a wall using the ears, but even then, I would never use a 4U height chassis.

Same thing goes for the patch panels. You don't need a rack at all. Ortronics makes a nice little 12-port wall-mounter patch panel which is perfect for home use. I have exactly 24 cat5e runs in my home, so two of them were perfect. FYI Ortronics also makes pretty good jacks and plates too -- get a catalog and call your local Anixter or Graybar for an order.

In my particular case, I have a single do-it-all server with five internal SATA disk drives for primary storage, an old SCSI card which attaches to an external DLT tape drive for backups, and I have an external 5-disk SATA enclosure which is inside of a fire-proof enclosure in case the place burns down. I have a bunch of old APC UPS units in the home which all have network cards in them. I use wireless only for my laptop and phone, where every room has at least two network jacks and as many as eight.

The biggest issues in this server closet are air flow for heat removal, and noise isolation. I live in the southwest where it gets really hot in the summer and the closet where I keep my gear is next to the garage, where it gets warm. I had to cut a vent into the door near the bottom so fresh/cool air could enter the closet, and I have a small fan which blows the old/hot air into the garage. The little 'server closet' has that do-it-all server with the ten disk drives, a cable modem, a 24-port switch, an APC UPS, an APC per-port controlled PDU, and sometimes I keep a second little cheapy server in there for experiments. So I need a little bit of air flow to keep it at a reasonable temperature in there.

However, all of these fans and junk make noise, which is bad. My old switch was the worst offender and I had to ditch it for a different switch. I also found that wall-mounting the switch caused vibrations to go through the wall, so I had to solve that problem by putting it on a small shelf with a layer of foam underneath.

Cat5e cable is probably fine for now. I like Berk-Tek brand riser/plenum cable as an intermediate of price and quality. If you really want to be able to do 10GBASE-T some day, you will have to go with Cat6a, which is crazy expensive. FYI, the current 10GBASE-T spec calls for spans of something like 25 meters with Cat5e, so you might be able to do 10GBASE-T over the Cat5e anyway.

Get over it, stop rack mounting things in your house, and get someone who knows structured cabling in there to help you pick some good cable, jacks, and the patch panels. I already told you about Ortronics and Berk-Tek. A clueful person could go from there.

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