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September 2000
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Why are you doing this?

There are lots of easy answers to that, such as:

Its cool. Look at the pictures! Wouldn't you want one?
Its good experience. Everyone hears about rack mount computers, perhaps even have a few in their office. Ever tried actually buying and/or building rack mount computer? How about planning a rack? Its easier said than done.
Its actually a very tidy way to handle a lot of computers - having a complete set of Internet services is useful for work, having them tidy just makes it a pleasant experience. Can you imagine this many machines sitting in regular tower cases? Just the wiring alone makes me shudder. The cable management hardware in the rack keeps all those wires under control - most of the wires for the system never leave the rack.

Do you really need THAT many computers?

You mean, could I get by with fewer? Yeah sure, I suppose, but there are some advantages:

I have a setup much like any of my clients, with separate servers for separate purposes, so I can test how the machines work together. Its closer to a production environment than a development environment - this comes back to that good experience comment earlier.
I can test product you can think of in a realistic way.
I am providing services to the house, such as distributed MP3 music and Internet connectivity.
Hey, this site runs from here too, y'know. Along with a dozen others or so.