Don’t Eat Too Much Three Bean Salad. The Server Will Crash.

I’m researching how to best build a new small office network for a client. It’s pretty much a greenfield project and whatever decisions I make will have long lasting effects for the organization. There needs to be a core server that holds all the primary roles; VPN, firewall, file and print, directory services, etc. That sounds like Microsoft SBS to most people, but I’m not set in my ways. I’ve looked at the myriad of FOSS based SMB server platforms, including products like Zentyal, Untangle, Artica, and even Amahi. The one title that seems to stand out among them all is ClearOS (the former ClarkConnect Linux).

As I’ve been diving deeply into the ClearOS literature, I found a portion of their website that includes a picture gallery. Of course, the usual galleries exist of the ClearOS folks mixing at industry events. Some of the galleries are provided by their adoring users. You’ll see office space, screenshots — the usual fare of user pictures.

One gallery is from a guy who made his own water cooled ClearOS server. In fact, he want hardcore and decided to make his own waterblock.

Okay, that’s cool. A guy makes his own custom waterblock. So what do you house that motherboard and waterblock in? Oh don’t be so closed minded. “In” is so not the open source way. How about screwing it, the power supply and hard drive to a piece of wood and hanging it on the wall!

But wait – it’s a water cooled system. The water has to come from somewhere. If you look closely, the tubes go into a reservoir on the bottom left side of the Tux mount. But, where does it actually come from? Does a person have to remember to fill the water up in that reservoir? Of course not! The only logical way to get water into your water-cooled system is to…

…drill a hole into the bathroom on the other side of the wall and use the water out of the toilet!!

That’s just…

…what the…

…I don’t even.

I’ll just leave the full gallery here.

EDIT: As has been pointed out by commenters Bryon and chx, it’s likely that the toilet’s reservoir is merely being used as a heat exchanger and not as a source of water for the cooling system. Photo 152 shows that this is likely a closed loop system. However, the murky water in the hoses still creeps me out.

EDIT 2: Nope, it now looks like the water in the system is being supplied by the toilet reservoir after all (thanks Kory!):

If you’ve seen anything crazier, let me know in the comments below. If you provide pictures, you can have the next blog post. =)

In closing, I think a Paranoid Parrot is in order:


  1. legacy

    April 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    You don’t have to necessarily flush the toilet, so technically you can eat whatever you want. Your two choices for when you have to dispose of the consumed food would be a) Go but don’t flush or b) Run out and find someone else’s house or a public building(preferably one where flushing won’t kill their server) and use their facilities. Just saying…


    • Wesley David

      April 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Well since you put it that way, a double order of hummus for everyone!!


  2. chx

    April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    You know, the photos not necessarily tell the truth. It’s hard to see but what if the toilet tank full of cold water is simply used a heat exchanger and there’s actual coolant in the liquid cooling system?


    • Wesley David

      April 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      That’s actually a possibility. I don’t think the text in the photo gallery exposes this, but perhaps I didn’t look hard enough. I certainly hope that’s the case, although it would only be a marginal improvement. =)


      • Bryon

        April 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        Photo P1000486 shows that what chx is saying is most likely the way it works.


        • Wesley David

          April 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm

          I just edited the most and made note of that. Thanks for the sharp eye!


  3. Chad

    April 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Upper decker.


    • Wesley David

      April 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      I forgot about those. Oh college days. =)


  4. Jane

    April 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    It’s actually a great idea. Since the toilet reservoir (which is clean water, btw) already has a mechanism to mantain itself filled up, it’s maintenance-free. I do wonder what happens at the end of a flush if *all* the water goes down the toilet… maybe the tubing has a no-return valve?


    • Wesley David

      April 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      As I was pondering this strange setup, I did note that the very cold water in a toilet’s reservoir would be a good heat exchange medium. I would rather not discuss how I am so familiar with the temperature of upper deck water…


  5. kory

    April 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    the water is clearly pouring out into the tank and probably running back in through a filtering system. as this picture shows


    • Wesley David

      April 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      The plot thickens! Blog post updated.


  6. rav0

    April 3, 2012 at 1:58 am

    When flushed, the cistern doesn’t empty completely, there is still a buffer of water inside. The server will survive.


  7. TechNeilogy

    April 3, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Toilets always remind me of the story “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” There’s something frightening about active water moving just beyond understanding and control. Particularly when the toilet stops up, and you flush it anyway, and the water rises and rises and you think “stop, stop” hoping it will stop. And often it does stop, as if by magic, right at the rim. But sometimes not, and then, like Micky Mouse, it’s a mad scramble to beat back the primordial forces unleashed and beyond your control.

    Do we really want to combine two technologies as powerful and arcane as a toilet and a computer?


  8. Gillis

    April 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    God help you if someone pulls an upper-decker.


  9. […] Don’t Eat Too Much Three Bean Salad. The Server Will Crash […]


  10. Aqualab

    April 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    What a stupid idea and setup, first the power supply is open, and this water loop will grow algae inside. And what about the tannin or rust from the reservoir wall that can detach and clog the CPU water block.


  11. Matt Simmons

    September 19, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Wes, I think that’s my new favorite meme. I can’t believe I didn’t read this back when it came out.



    • Wesley David

      September 19, 2012 at 8:43 am

      The memory of it will be indelibly burned in your memory forever now. You’ll never look at water cooling the same again. =)


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