compnents for an inexpensive linux file server

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by chrizzle, May 6, 2005.

  1. chrizzle

    chrizzle n00bie

    May 5, 2005
    i figured this was the place to go for questions like this since most linux boards are short of hardware freaks :)

    my experience with linux is that it runs great on old hardware, but not cheap stuff. that usually means production quality server parts, of which i have none.

    my first thought was to turn an old socket7 box i have laying around into a home file server running slackware 10.1. all it will do is host shares, no xwindows, no other services (maybe dhcp cuz i am sick of rebooting my linksys router), but really it will just serve files. my nickname for the box is "the mystery machine" since i have no idea what kind of proc it has (socket7 something or another, don't want to pry the heatsink off to find out) and everything but the nic is integrated into the board. i am not religious about using the mystery machine, it's just a good place to start since it isn't doing anything else.

    i am not sure if i want to do raid or not. the goal of this little project is to have a few hundred gigs of storage space on my network, rather than upgrade the drives in all my puters and my modded xbox, so the goal is stability and price, not necessarily speed. i'd rather spend my cash on storage space than anything else, but i don't want to lose harddrives either. the "server" will house mostly mp3s, the occasional video file, and some networked backups of things. i'll probably be the only human accessing them at any given time. nothing major, just centralizing storage.

    after reading about the importance of good PSUs and disk failure in this forum, this changes my budget somewhat now that i definitely have to replace my mystery OEM PSU.

    if i use the mystery machine i will need a new PSU, a disk controller, and of course some Big Ass Harddrives(tm) (BAHDs). does anyone have experience with an inexpensive controller (like under $100) that plays nicely with slackware?

    i am not sure if i want to do the raid thing or not. from what i have read here, IDE raid doesn't really boost performance, it just insulates you against disk failure. unless i am mistaken, 1 BAHD would be as fast or faster than a raid0 setup smaller disks.

    i haven't spent a dime on this yet, so i am open to other suggestions if anyone has experience with building "budget file servers". building a new machine isn't necessarily a deal breaker, as long as i can do it inexpensively.
  2. fibroptikl

    fibroptikl [H]ardness Supreme

    Mar 9, 2000
    RAID is not a form of backup, it's a form of fault tolerance.
  3. chrizzle

    chrizzle n00bie

    May 5, 2005

    when you back something up you have to store the backup file(s) somewhere other than the system you are backing up... like a tape or CD, or in this case, a file server.
  4. rodsfree

    rodsfree [H]ard|Gawd

    Dec 13, 2004
    fibroptikl... He's got his head on straight. He knows what he wants to do.

    You need fault tolerance on the file server that his disk-imaging software is going to use as an image storage location

    Let me see if I've got this right....
    1. You want to use a mystery machine as a file server. (Scooby Dooby Doo!!!!) :D
    2. You want to install some Big Ass Harddrives(tm) (BAHDs) in it.
    3. You want to install a really cheap RAID5 card in it - to create a fault tolerant file server array.("really cheap RAID5 card" is an oxymoron - they don't exist)
    4. You don't care about access speed - just fault tolerance and availability.

    Sounds like you're wanting the same stuff as I do.... :D

    A "Slow As Fuck - Network Attached Storage Unit" (tm) (SAF-NASU) using some Big Ass Harddrives(tm) (BAHDs).

    The only solution I've been able to come up with that's cheap is to do a software RAID5 array. Tom's Hardware has a "how-to" and review of doing this using Windows XP Pro. Go here .
    I know that Linux can do it also but I don't know how. I'll have to look into it... been wanting to play with Linux anyway.

    The theory is simple.... Just attach a bunch of drives to the system, using any IDE controlers, onboard or add-on. And tell the OS to create an array out of them. The OS and CPU then do all of the stripping and copying and XORing which the card would normally do. It's slower and puts a drain on your system, but if that's all that system is there for, why worry?

    I was thinking of using 2 Promise Ultra 100 TX2 cards - that would give me 8 drives total and the Promise BIOS would take care of the 137Gb BIOS problem that most older onboard controllers have. And you can get them fairly cheap on ebay. And you'd need one extra small drive as an OS Boot drive that could live on the onboard controller.

    I've got mine all planned out.... my problem is bucks for the drives and a case that will hold them all.

    On your PSU.... make sure that you get one that has a hefty 12V+ rail.... that's what mostly runs the drives. Or you could link 2 small PSU's - that's what I'm thinking of doing. It's just cheaper, especially if you have room in the case.

    Other things that I want for mine is as much RAM as I can get and to upgrade my wired network components to 1000BaseT.

    The only other solution is to haunt ebay and the FS/FT forum looking for the killer deal on the card.

    Good Luck!

  5. chrizzle

    chrizzle n00bie

    May 5, 2005
    thanks rodsfree, i'll shop for the 'troller and get started.

    linux does software raid, here is a link to a basic intro to it, tho it covers booting from the raid array, which i am not into. my kung fu is weak when it comes to RAID, so it all looks like dark wizardry to me.

    on the PSU front, i am thinkong of this guy:

    the video card usage will be next to none (text console only) there will just be the one controller, the nic and the harddrives. it's the highest wattage i could find that's still considered quiet. the case i have has 2 fans in it, tho i may need a drive cooler of some kind as well.

    as for the drives, i am thinking at least two, tho not more than four 250gb drives. probably seagate baracudas.