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Status Lights

My main computer is a big rack-mount server. The thing I sit in front of at my desk is just a graphics terminal. I've used many different things as X Terminals, including actual NCD X Terminals, Sun workstations, and lately, generic laptops running OpenBSD. I use a very minimalist environment primarily based around xterm windows and lots of virtual desktops, using fvwm.

Even though I use a color display, the style is all gray, and is leftover from the setup I liked when I was actually using black & white or grayscale monitors.

I really like indicator lights. I like the front panels of old mainframes and minicomuters:

To get that sort of effect, and move some status indicators off my sidebar (because I like restricting my sidebar to one virtual desktop so I can have blank screens) I aquired a Baytech RPC remote power controller, bolted it to the wall next to my laptop, and use the status lights as indicator lights. (The RPC unit lets you switch individual outlets on or off through software. I ignore the outlets and just use the status lights.)

The first row is personal stuff - Mail notification (if one light is on, I have new mail from someone on my white list (address book), if the second light is on, I have new mail from someone on my red list (short list of important people)), Sched indicates that I have something listed for today in my calendar file, Nuke indicates that the word nuclear currently appears on CNN's world news page, and Timer is for a cli timer utility I use a lot.

The next row is sysadmin type stuff - syslog messages of severity Emergency, Alert, Critical, Notice, and a warning of a device error from the MD metadevice system (software RAID). (Filesystem full warnings come through as a Notice. Successful su's are Notices, failed attempts are Critical. Etc. I filter away some uninteresting things from the mail system.)

The third row is for my compute servers. Two 14-processor Sun E4000's named CM4000 and CM4001 and a small 8-processor SGI Origin-2000. Queue indicates that there is work to be done in the main batch queue. (Of this row, only Queue is implimented. I don't want to power up the big servers just to get their respective indicator lights working, so I'll do it the next time I have a real reason to boot them.)

The last row is unused, because I use those outlets for actual power control. Aside from being able to turn outlets on and off from software, the RPC power strip is nice because it lets you measure actual voltage and amperage. So I have some outlets free for power use.