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 and when machine 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 arrival at UCC:

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

UCC history of machine:

  • 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 2006 it suffered another disk failure, but swapping the controller board with a spare that [DAG] happened to have lying about worked fine.
  • In late 2007, Mermaid moved to yet another set of new hardware but kept the same name - a dual Xeon with 2GB of RAM. It stopped being a general user box and web server, and took over duties as a Xen virtualisation host.

Current machine tasks:

  • Xen host

Current software configuration:

  • Mermaid runs Debian Etch
  • Linux 2.6-xen

Current hardware configuration:

  • Dual 2.4GHz Intel Xeon processors
  • 2GB RAM

Future plans for machine:

  • Decommission, possibly move Mermaid's disk image to a Xen virtual machine

Special notes:

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


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

Related sites: