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Hi everyone. I've been getting into fiddling with my computer for the past several months and I really want to give Linux a fair shake. Currently, I have been repeatedly ...
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  1. #1
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    Can Linux handle my computer?


    Hi everyone. I've been getting into fiddling with my computer for the past several months and I really want to give Linux a fair shake. Currently, I have been repeatedly frustrated by a Ubuntu, which I run off of a 16GB USB flash drive. The RAID setup I have on my system doesn't work with Ubuntu, it seems. This is how I have the hard drives set up currently (Windows 7). All this is controlled by the motherboard's RAID (in the Bios?). I think it's an Intel RAID setup.

    Anyways:
    2 x 320GB disks in a RAID Stripe setup (640 GB total). This is where the OS is installed as well as any applications. If I'm editing a large movie or picture file, I put it on this array to take advantage of the speed.

    2 x 2TB disks in a RAID mirror. This is where I store all my data files to protect against a hard drive failure.

    1 x 128GB SSD that is used soley for the Windows cache drive.

    From what I have heard, Ubuntu doesn't support my "fake raid" and will not ever be able to recognize my hard drives, which seems odd to me since the RAID is controlled in the BIOS, which seems to me like it should be taken care of by the time the OS starts to boot.

    So...can I get linux to work on my machine? Usually when I have asked for help before the Linux people just seem like they want to insult my hard drive setup and tell me it's no good, but I've been lurking here and this place seems pretty helpful, so I'll give it one last chance, I guess.

    Is there a way to get Ubuntu or another newbie-friendly distribution to work?

    If not, I would be willing to entertain other ideas -- maybe split off the two 2TB drives and make one a "data" drive and the other a "backup" drive? I can then use something like Free File sync to back up a couple times per day or something. I can then put Ubuntu on the 2TB data drive and have it work solely with that one.

    Also, for my 2 x 320 GB striped drives, that is way more space than I'll ever need. I'd be fine if I ran that as a striped volume at 250 gigs or something. I'm not sure if I can reparition those drives and have them still be striped or not.

    Anyways, I'm just throwing out some ideas. I'm open to suggestions. Ideally, I would be able to keep my hard drives and RAID setup the way it is, but I can work around it with Free File Sync if necesarry.

  2. #2
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    I don't have any experience with RAID but found the site below dealing with it. I'd suggest you read through whole page. From this article, there is support for RAID but not on a standard installation and you will need to install some software:

    Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and Soft RAID with mdadm Neolocus Technology Blog

  3. #3
    Trusted Penguin Irithori's Avatar
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    The reason why such a setup is called fakeraid is, that it is the cheapest way to label and sell motherboard with a "raid " feature.

    But these things do almost nothing.
    Multiple disks will appear as one device, but that's about it.
    - All the logic and calculations need to be done by the OS kernel module for this specific piece of hardware.
    - So there is a performance penalty, as there is no raidcontroller chip to do the heavy lifting.
    This may not be an issue for an current i7 or low IO rates. But I wouldnt recommend building a fileserver with an e.g. an atom cpu with a fakeraid.
    - The redundancy is easily compromised.
    Build a raid 1. Create a file foo with content abc. Powerdown. Unplug one disk. Boot. Change the content of foo to 123. Reconnect the second disk.
    There will be no sync, or even warning.
    In one disk, the file foo contains 123, the other abc.
    - Your data depends on this specific hardware. Should the motherboard fail, then you need the same hardware again to get your data.

    Personally I would not trust my data to these toys.
    Get a decent hardware raid controller or go for software raid.
    Linux software raids of course also need CPU power, but at least there is no dependency to a specific hardware, they are very versatile, well supported and documented.

    Fwiw, in my home network I opted for a dedicated box running freenas (a fileserver OS based on freebsd), mainly because of its userfriendly setup and of course ZFS, which still has to be matched by linux's btrfs in terms of production readyness.
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.

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    I would like to thank you folks for the help so far. I showed your replies to a friend of mine and he has pretty much convinced me to ditch the 2 x 320GB striped RAID array in favor of a single, newer 500 GB drive.

    As for the 2 x 2TB RAID mirror, he thinks I should get an external enclosure with built in hardware RAID support and mirror the drives that way. I'm on the fence about that as I'm worried that the data transfer speed will suffer. The 2TB drives are SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) and I don't see any way to make them external and keep the same transfer speed. So I will do some investigating, reconfigure everything and probably check back again in a couple weeks.

    For a dual-boot system, I'm better off installing Windows 7 before putting linux on there anyways, right? Should I confine Windows to its own partition and make a separate one for linux? Any suggestions on that front? I would like to be able to access the data files I create from either OS.

  6. #5
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    It is better to install windows 7 first because it will not detect a Linux system and you will have to manually configure its bootloader.
    If you install Linux after windows, the Grub bootloader of Ubuntu should detect the windows system and create a menuentry for it on the boot menu. In case it doesn't create an entry for windows, you would simply run 'sudo update-grub' from a terminal.
    Yes, you need windows on a separate partition from Ubuntu. You could install Ubuntu as a program inside windows (wubi install) but I doubt that would be a good idea for a server nor would installing one in virtual software.
    Create a separate data partition in ntfs format. Ubuntu should be able to read/write to it. If not, it's easy to setup. Windows doesn't write to or recognize Linux filesystems as far as I know although third party software is available. Not sure if it is free?

  7. #6
    Trusted Penguin Irithori's Avatar
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    I (grudgingly) second ntfs as a shared *local* filesystem between linux and windows.
    If you dont get too fancy (compression, encryption) or too creative on filenames (special chars, etc) then it should work.
    ntfs does take some cpu power on linux, because it is not a native posix filesystem and the user/permission scheme is different.

    But still, ntfs usually works. Fwiw, fat32 also works but suffers some drawbacks of a legacy filesystem like a maximum filesize of 2Gbyte.

    The other way around, there is possibility to use a linux standard ext filesystem on windows: Ext2Fsd Project
    But in my experience this isnt too stable.


    Imho, a better approach is to have the data on the network aka on a nas.
    Both linux and windows will then be able to access this via cifs and/or nfs.

    As for performance:
    A local fs is potentially faster.
    But what performance do you actually need? With selected hardware and setup, a nas can saturate a gigabit link (at least for sequential access) and above (with trunked ports)
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.

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