FOURGANG

I’m working on a home cluster project.

It is an experiment, testing whether distributed storage can be useful for digital media professionals like photographers. These users require a great deal of fast, expandable, redundant storage, and since they need a lot of it, they are very price conscious. Can I build something useful that is fault tolerant and reliable, cheaply expandable without a hard cap (like the number of disk slots in a NAS chassis), and fast enough to be used for work?

The initial version is just using gigabit ethernet, but if the initial results are promising, I want to test with a more expensive switch that offers 10Gbe uplink connected to a desktop with a 10Gbe interface. (Even the Mac Mini comes with 10Gbe as a BTO option for only $100!)

I’m using it to learn or improve skills with

  • ARM SBCs
  • A/C and D/C electrical circuits
  • Clustering (with Docker Swarm)
  • Distributed filesystems (with LizardFS)
  • Stateless machines (using Linux and booting an image over the network)
  • Physical skills like rough woodworking, Dremel use
  • Soldering

Project status and updates

The project is in pretty early stages, and (unfortunately) is only really documented on Twitter for now.

See my progress in this thread.

FOURGANG board

Why “FOURGANG”?

I love the novel Blindsight, by Peter Watts. It’s a fascinating and terrifying scifi examination of consciousness. One of the characters in the book is actually four characters - the “Gang of Four” - who are four personalities residing in a single body.

You should read the novel; it’s available for free online.