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Hardware RAID and recommended controllers

T.W.X Posts: 3

Hi, new here, not new to Linux but a bit out of practice.

I'm getting ready to replace my old software RAID fileserver that's been around since '01 with a new box, and I'd like to make it as intuitive to operate once running as possible. Hardware wise, I'm looking at eight drives. Two small drives mirrored for the OS, five very large ( 1.5TB or 2TB ) drives RAID5, and one more drive like the five online as a hot spare. As for the rest of the computer, I've got a dual-Xeon 2.4GHz Socket 603 board and chips laying around, with 5 or 6 64 bit PCI-X slots, so I figured that I'd look for a controller that fits that board.

What I'm looking to find out is what distributions have good RAID tools for things like identifying drives as they go bad, switching over to rebuild the array off of a hot spare, etc, and what hardware would work best? I know that SAS will use SATA drives, so I'm probably going to go that way if I can find software to do this.

Most of my experience is with Debian, though I started with Slack and tried Redhat 5.1 and SuSE before ending up with Debian.


  • dmjedli
    dmjedli Posts: 6
    3ware products have always seemed to have great Linux support. They also support a command line interface (great for perl or bash processing).

    Additionally, I believe the driver will log errors (drive failures and such) to syslog or /var/log/messages. With a file watcher, or splunk, you can easily trap the error and notify.
  • Flu
    Flu Posts: 8
    I second the 3ware recommendation. All of the servers in our facility use a 3ware controller and I've never had any problems with them. The Linux kernel has had a 3ware driver for quite a while now and it's very stable. This makes it very easy to perform installations, since you don't need to install a third party driver.

    As mentioned by dmjedli, 3ware has a command line interface utility called tw_cli. I wrote a simple bash script to periodically check the status of the RAID and if there is an issue I get a message sent to me. It works extremely well and has been rock solid for our purposes. 3ware also provides a web interface called 3DM2 that allows you to monitor the status of the RAID and perform various tasks.
  • dmjedli
    dmjedli Posts: 6
    pm wrote:
    take a look on openfiler. (openfiler.com)

    Openfiler is great to present storage. But, if you're looking for something to present iSCSI LUNS to ESX, XEN, or even a CIFS file share for a business, it should be backed by a good hardware RAID card.

    Openfiler can stripe across block level disks, but it's still a software RAID.
  • T.W.X
    T.W.X Posts: 3
    I'll give 3ware a look. Most of what I know in storage dates back to Adaptec and even Mylex, for what it's worth. Work needed me to be certed on some products so we could handle internal warranty service, and going through all of the SAS/iSCSI stuff got my interest piqued. It didn't hurt that my wife finally approached me about putting our movie collection on so we can access it without the need to play without the need for physical media either, and assuming a gig an hour we're looking at about 4tb for what we currently have. A moderately expensive controller with relatively cheap SATA drives seemed to be the best approach.

    Now I just have to see if that fiberoptic module for my switch is still available. I have a PCI-X nic for the server, but something to hook it to would be nice...
  • dmjedli
    dmjedli Posts: 6
    If you don't mind... throw up a post and let us know what you decided on! It's always neat to see how projects turn out.
  • T.W.X
    T.W.X Posts: 3
    I'll do that. If nothing else, I've been out of it long enough (ever since I bought a laptop whose chipset had a weird clock issue double or triple advancing the clock) so I'm a little rusty.

    So far parts that I already have (and have had for quite some time) include Supermicro P4DP6 motherboard, 8GB RAM, two Prestonia DP2200 Xeon processors, and an appropriate power supply.

    I'm looking at a 3ware 9550SXU-8LP controller, which one e-bay vendor has for $299, a pair of cheap small 100gb or so SATA hard disk drives mirrored for the OS, and I'm still trying to figure out what large drives I'd like to buy five or six of. Seagate and Western Digital both seem to have 1.5TB+ drives, but both have a lot of negative reviews on them as well, and if I'm going to put something like this together I need it to be as reliable as possible. I do suppose that I could always change my array configuration if going with a slightly smaller drive would mean more reliable choices.


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