Virtualmin Support for Cobalt RAQ3

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#1 Thu, 06/25/2009 - 13:13

Virtualmin Support for Cobalt RAQ3

Since Virtualmin/Usermin/Webmin went perfectly with CentOS 5 and my old Compaq Evo computer, Id thought id bring up my old RAQ3.

When I first started coding PHP, I bought myself a RAQ 3 which was great at the time, now its just collecting dust as the OS and Control Panel is out of date. I looked around at the time and was advised that I couldn't install the latest PHP or control panels like WHM/cPanel..

My question is, would I be able to upgrade my Cobalt RAQ3 server to CentOS 5, PHP5 and run VirtualMin (making myself a nice little cluster).

If not, please can you advice why? The guy who advised me before a few years ago was a family friend and I did not have enough time to google his explanation (to understand).

Cobalt RAQ3? Sun Cobalt Raq 3 R39 602 Hik Discontinued by Sun I think it has 128 meg stick Ram Hard Drive 10.24 Gb AMD K6-2 300 MHz Ran on Red Hat Linux operating system and a proprietary GUI for server management.

Regards, Adam

Thu, 06/25/2009 - 13:29

Well, there's two potential gotchas -- hardware compatibility and memory.

I don't know much about the RAQ's, but digging around Google a bit, it sounds like installing a typical Linux distro onto a RAQ isn't necessarily as straight forward as it would be with a typical server.

The other issue is memory. In general, if you can install CentOS 5 on the system, it can work.

However, your particular server there may be pushing those limits :-) That's a fairly old box with a small amount of RAM -- you may run into memory issues.

So the first trick will be researching whether you can actually install CentOS 5.

The second trick will be reviewing the Virtualmin on low-memory systems guide to get things using as little memory as possible:,virtualmin_on_low_memory_sys...

Also, make sure you have plenty of swap setup!

Thu, 06/25/2009 - 18:55
Joe's picture

I'm not sure the result is worth the effort of reviving such an old machine. If WikiPedia is to be believed, your RaQ3 has a 300 Mhz AMD K6-2 processor! It's also going to be limited to probably 256MB (PC100 memory, it seems), and it probably only has 64 or 128 stock.

You'd almost certainly be better off from a performance, ease of maintenance, and power usage perspective, with a virtual machine on your desktop system running in VirtualBox or VMWare or Qemu/KVM or Xen.

To put this in perspective, I retired the last K6-2 300Mhz machine (which my prior company used heavily in its low end product line that competed with Cobalt's CacheRaQ) from my testing system closet at least six years ago. The testing closet was generally made up of machines that were too old to be useful in a real world environment.


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Fri, 06/26/2009 - 10:15

Just bought a raq3 for $10 at a thrift store, threw in 2x256 pc133 dimms (max ram) and an old eide 60gb (137gb max per ide drive), loaded the raq550 os restore build 13 off the sun site, ran updates (set blueQ to and DON"T load any kernel updates as they are i686 and stock cpu is i386) and it is running like a champ.

For serving a couple websites you couldn't ask for more, esp at $10 and some useless old parts.

Been using the web interface but telnet works fine. If you are afraid of going command line are you sure you want linux? ;) If you are old school or just a work around if the network is down, the serial ports work for a tty console with a xover cable.

There are a bunch of radical raq advocates out there with every possible tweek including modern distros if you want it, blue quartz seems popular. But load the bad boy down and you will regret it. Those old cpus seem really slow by today's standards.

With just a touch of solder you can take it up to k3-iii 500mhz If you are more adventuresome you can also add a pci slot, but I'm not sure what all you could use it for.

In short, if you want a webhost or low end linux box for NIS/DNS/firewall/proxy in a small environment this is the way to go. I wouldn't bother doing much else though since very low end consumer box can be had for $250 and would run rings around even a cluster of these guys in every regard.

Any way that's the skinny - have fun with it.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 12:10

Couple of things:

1) you need to upgrade the bios

2) you'll be lucky if you can get the display working correctly

3) Just use the RAQ OS!!! The reliability can NOT be beat, and the OS is killer... heck, it was a Cobalt RAQ 2 ( I said 2!!!!!) that I just now turned off after ten years of uninterrupted service to run this webmin/virtualmin thingie. I have a raQ3 in there as well, still churning out... uh, whatever it is that it's been churning out for so long.

In any case, some people have been working on that for a while now. There's more than one build, but check this one out to get started:

Sat, 06/27/2009 - 11:44 (Reply to #5)

The most current bios update is part of the raq550 13 restore cd. 2.10.something as I recall. Be sure to tell it the correct system or you could brick your machine.

Display works like a charm.

The latest raq550 is the last official raq OS. It is churning along just find and has direct support of the raq3. The only issue is the kernel patches were compiled with the i686 switch and won't run on a k6-2 (despite the name it tops out at i586). Supposedly there are recompiled versions somewhere or you could down load the source and recompile with the correct switches.

After a bit of reading blue onyx looks more interesting than blue quartz

Luckily I have another k6 system I can develop on. But only because I'm a geek. The raq550 OS, which both quartz and onyx are based on, seems to be running just fine.

FYI, you should with very little effort be able to use the blue onyx load on just about anything x86, turning it into a quick and dirty web appliance. Ebay has raq3s for about $50 buy outright. (Prices include shipping to my zip, I have no relationship with any vendors and have no sales on ebay currently.) Not quite $10 (now $20 as I splurged for a k6-2+ 500mhz cpu). But with the price of k6 cpus, 256mb pc133 DIMMs and old EIDE HDs you could easily put a good web appliance (k6-2 500mz/512 mb/up to 2x137gb hd) together for under $75.


Sat, 06/27/2009 - 15:39

Sweet - I love that os. I can't believe is still around. I thought they shut it down years ago. I see is still doing RaQs as well.

It's only lately I concede your point: case $40 mobo/CPU combo $50 2gig ram $30 drive $50


Thanks for the read!

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