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Hello, I'm looking to put together a media server for my flat. I'm looking to have 2 x 1TB drives in RAID 1. Now the computer I'm looking at using ...
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  1. #1
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    Debian and Raid


    Hello,

    I'm looking to put together a media server for my flat. I'm looking to have 2 x 1TB drives in RAID 1.

    Now the computer I'm looking at using already has XP on it, but since I'm going to be leaving it it on all the time I'd like to use debian on it. I've chosen debian because of all the testing stable goes though, and also because I've been using debian based systems myself (Ubuntu, Sidux).

    1) Should I get a hardware RAID controller like this (price in NZ dollars), or should I use a software RAID controller (Debian Lenny + mdadm). A Hardware one would be more reliable, right?

    2) Apart from my main computer, everyone else here uses a mixture of XP and Vista. So I'm anticipating problems with people reading/writing data to the server because of this. I see my options like this, and please correct me if I'm wrong:
    - Format the smaller OS drive on the server in ext3 for Debian, put the 2x1TB drives into ntfs and install an ntfs driver on debian. I'm not sure about now, but this used to be something we were meant to avoid because of issues, correct?
    - Format the smaller OS drive on the server in ext3 for Debian, put the 2x1TB into ext2 and install the ext2 drivers on the windows PC's. I haven't looked into this in any detail, so I'm not sure how good the drivers are.
    - Leave windows on the system, and use ntfs for the 2x1TB drives.

    The question for number 2 is: Which option is best? Are there any I've missed? Would it not matter if the 2x1TB drives are in ntfs if they're windows systems writing to them even though the server is debian?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Linux Enthusiast meton_magis's Avatar
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    Hardware raid is not more reliable. Think of it this way, you are adding more hardware to your PC. You have the same rate of failure from all other components, but you are adding 1 more device to fail. If something (or everything) in your computer dies, and you want to recover data, you'd have to buy ANOTHER hardware raid card of the exact same brand, and posible the exact same card, because they are often proprietary standards. If you use software raid, and you whole computer fails, you can take the drives out, load them into another PC, and boot up almost any linux distro, and your data is safe.

    really, I have never found a decent argument for hardware raid, especialy when raid 1 adds VERY minimal overhead. If you were implimenting raid 4-6, you'd have the parity bit calculations putting a drain on your CPU, and could make an argument that the hardware raid would offset that and leave your main CPU free of the burden. But it is still very minor considering decent quality TRUE hardware raid card is around 150 - 200$, where a brand new core 2 duo is under 200$, and you have more power on it. (I can guarentee the card you linked is fakeraid, not true hardware, or is a very bad card at the least.)
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    Thanks for the advice. Software RAID it is then.

    I know this is off topic but there may be more RAID knowledgeble people here, after seeing people complaining about having drives dropped from RAID because of deep recovery mode, I decided to go for RAID specified hardrives, such as the RE series from WD. But I can't find any for a decent price (think twice as much as a desktop drive) so I'll probably go for desktop drives.

    1) Would you expect deep recovery to happen very often?
    2) If a drive gets dropped from RAID 1, does the other one keep recording?
    3) And is it easy enough to update the 2nd drive when it's back in RAID?

    I wasn't able to find answers to the last 2 questions there

    I've found people saying they have a problem with desktop drives because of this, and others saying they don't have any problems. I've found a link about HDD preperation which I'll try here

    Here was a comment from someone I found on google:
    WD has a utility available that allows these values to be changed (set in firmware). This can allow you to use consumer drives on a true RAID controller on occassion, but it's not a guarantee. (It's been rather handy with using the Green Power models in RAID).
    If the utility is made by WD for their own drives, they it should be relativly safe to use

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    Linux Enthusiast meton_magis's Avatar
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    I've never heard of a raid specific hard drive before ..... after googling, to me it just looks like the "raid" hard drives are maybe more robust. I wouldn't go with them, they may be practicle in raid 4-6, but you are using raid 1, which mirrors data, you would be wasting money. If you want, but 4 regular hard drives and put them into raid 1, now you have far superior protection for the same price.

    ANYWAY
    The link you gave was for a specific product, not a general hard drive preperation guide. None of that stuff is nessisary for what you are doing.

    1) no, and even if it did, it would be irrelivent, because you are making a media server, not a high reliability, highly accessed data center NAS. And because ...
    2) even if only 1 drive remains in a raid 1, your data is fine. The read speed will be lower, but everything else will be fine, you will just want to replace your bad hard drive at the first oportunity.
    3) this should all be automatic. I've been running a raid 5 setup for a year now, and I've never noticed it go down, so I can't prove that it is automatic (unless I DID have problems, and it fixed it before I noticed) but as long as you monitor /proc/mdstat for any problems, and start googling when you do, you should be fine.
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    Thanks for the help meton, I've never paid much attention to RAID before, because it wasn't relevant to what I was trying to do. You've helped bridge a lot of gaps in my knowledge.

    About that link to a specific product, I thought that the "primary method" steps of forcing the HDD to remap any bad sectors it finds before being used for data would help avoid deep recovery mode, or is it just a redundant step for raid?

    Regarding my choices of file systems in the first post, and given the situation of 1 linux computer and several windows ones using the debian server, do you have an opinion on which file system I should use?

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    I've just realised that I forgot Samba. This would mean that it doesn't matter for the windows computers if the main storage drives on the server were formatted as ext3 would it?

  7. #7
    Linux Enthusiast meton_magis's Avatar
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    you are correct. My exact setup is using 3 sata hard drives configured into a raid 5 (with a very small raid 1 for my / partition, can't boot off 5.) I use it for more then 1 thing, so I made the whole raid 5 a LVM device, and create / expand the LVM partitions anytime I want to add space to something. I then have samba (and NFS) running to export the various shared partitions. It works very well IMO, and does what I need it to. I have yet to see any problems.

    forgot to mention, with the exception of my / partition (ext3), everything else is ext4 (I had to rebuild my system about 2 weeks ago, ... not because I NEEDED to ... just that I needed something to do on a long weekend).
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