1. an imaginary sea creature fabled to have a woman's head and upper body and a fish's tail. [C14: from mere lake, inlet + maid]

How/where the machine was obtained

  • Mermaid was bought in 1996 with money saved from Coke sales, and with member donations. It was bought as components from City Business Machines

History prior to arriving to UCC

  • There was none, as it was born at UCC.

UCC machine history

  • Mermaid has had many configuation changes, adjustments, hacks and tweakings in its short life, as it has proved somewhat unreliable. Most of this has been due to the heat produced by the CPU - in our haste to buy something new and non-Intel, we bought one of the early Cyrix 6x86es, and put it on one of the first boards to be certified for it. Aside from eating two IDE disks in two years, Mermaid seems to now be (semi) stable.
  • Mermaid had a CPU change mid-1999 as the Cyrix chip proved unstable. It is now a Intel Pentium 166 and significant improvements speed and stability have been noticed.
  • Mermaid died several times during 2002 due to overheating. It was transplanted and appears to once again be stable.
  • In 2005 it was transplanted into a dual 400MHz Pentium II and serves as a Xen host.
  • In 2010 it was a victim of the GreatStormOfPerth, where it took the brunt of the storm right next to the window. It was resurrected in a 1RU P4 Xeon for several months, before being decommissioned when JohnHodge rewrote dispense in early 2011

Current machine tasks

  • General purpose machine and web server.

Current software configuration

  • Mermaid runs Debian Woody
  • Linux 2.4

Current hardware configuration

  • Dual processor Pentium II server board scavanged from some university department
  • Pentium II 400MHz
  • 256Mb RAM

Future plans for the machine

  • Move the webserver off Mermaid onto Mussel, Manbo or Martello.
  • Decommission, possibly move Mermaid's disk image to a Xen virtual machine

Thanks to:

  • Beware the 6x86. Cram as many fans as you can inside the case.!


  • [AHC] and [TDH] for finding drives to replace the dead ones, at short notice.