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Old 05-05-2013, 11:03 PM   #1
wolfperkins
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Question Suggestions for file server hardware


Polling this group of linux enthousiasts about your ideas for the ultimate hardware to support a linux based file server.

Here is what I would like to support:
- O/S: CentOS 6.4 64-bit
- Packages: Base install + Samba-server core package
- Memory: 1GB (reliability favored above speed)
- Disks: 2 X 250G SD type drives in RAID1 (mirror)
for the O/S and swap
4 X 3TB SATA type drives in RAID5 (strip-set)
for the data for a total of 9TB of supported space
- Video: base VGA support

The questions I have:
Processor: AMD or Intel? Does it matter?
Power supplies: How much power do I need to support 6 hard drives, motherboard, RAM, CPU?
Gigabit ethernet: PCI based? On board?
RAID: Is it worth having hardware RAID as opposed to software?
Disks: I hesitate between Seagate and WD. Don't know others. What about SD drive manufacturers?
PC Case: How big a PC tower? How warm/hot will this get?

And my last question for this post: Where should I order this stuff from? I doubt I will find a single stop-place shop like Best Buy or Future Shop that will carry the hardware I need.

A friend recommended I post my question on a web forum. Being a member here I figured I would start here. As mentioned, I want reliable hardware as this will support my home file server needs for the whole family. I am ready to order the parts and put it together myself.

Thanks for your input.
 
Old 05-06-2013, 02:45 AM   #2
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfperkins View Post
- O/S: CentOS 6.4 64-bit
- Packages: Base install + Samba-server core package
- Memory: 1GB (reliability favored above speed)
- Disks: 2 X 250G SD type drives in RAID1 (mirror)
for the O/S and swap
4 X 3TB SATA type drives in RAID5 (strip-set)
for the data for a total of 9TB of supported space
- Video: base VGA support
250GB is way to large for OS and swap, you can save some money going for smaller SSDs. For a simple server you will hardly exceed 5GB for the OS, swap can be small on a pure file-server. go for a 60GB SSDs, those are relatively cheap.

Quote:
Processor: AMD or Intel? Does it matter?
No.
Quote:
Power supplies: How much power do I need to support 6 hard drives, motherboard, RAM, CPU?
For a setup like that you should be fine with a 300W PSU, if you go for a low power CPU. In any case, avoid cheap supplies, saving at the PSU is saving at the wrong end.
Quote:
Gigabit ethernet: PCI based? On board?
Onboard. PCI is to slow to reliably support Gigabit Ethernet, PCIe would be fine, but many mainboards support already Gigabit Ethernet, so there is simply no need for a separate card.
Quote:
RAID: Is it worth having hardware RAID as opposed to software?
Only if you buy one of the real hardware RAID cards, the RAID you usually find on mainboards is a fake RAID and has no advantages over software RAID. I would go for software RAID.
Quote:
Disks: I hesitate between Seagate and WD. Don't know others. What about SD drive manufacturers?
Nowadays there is not much difference between manufacturers. Go for what you can get cheap.
Quote:
PC Case: How big a PC tower? How warm/hot will this get?
Obviously you need a case with at least 6 3,5" (or 2x2,5" and 4x3,5") drive bays to house all the disks. The array of disks will produce some heat, so go for a case with a good airflow (a thing I would always recommend).

I am a little bit astonished that you deem the manufacturer of the CPU important, but not which CPU in the price-range from a few dollars up to more than 1000 dollars you should consider.
Some questions from me to you:
- How many clients will be served by that machine?
- Is the rest of your network (switches, clients) Gigabit Ethernet capable?
- Do you plan to build a second machine for backup purposes?
- Do you plan to use the machine for more services in the future?
 
Old 05-06-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
wolfperkins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
- How many clients will be served by that machine?
This will be housing my home network needs only serving between 3-5 computers at the same time, plus my WD Live TV device. I don't care so much about the number of clients as for the reliability. I have already lost enough documents in the last week due to hardware failure. I lost all my kids' docs but most importantly my wife's documents of the last 2 years. That can't happen again. So again reliability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
- Is the rest of your network (switches, clients) Gigabit Ethernet capable?
I have 2 PCs and a laptop that have Gigabit capability and they occupy 3 of the 4 connections in my Gigabit ethernet capable Router. I also cabled my home with Cat6E cables. I am not sure the pull of the WD Live TV box thought. The I/O on it might have to be considered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
- Do you plan to build a second machine for backup purposes?
I was going to create a KVM based file server on my existing server but just to mirror the most important stuff like the people's documents and forget about the Videos and Music files that can get ripped again at will. Oh yes I cannot forget about the 10000+ photos collection I have from the last 10 years. Luckily that was stored on a 1TB external drive on my host and did not get affected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
- Do you plan to use the machine for more services in the future?
I do not intend to use it for anything else but this. The existing server can then be reformatted and serve my purposes in getting ready for RHCSA and RHCE certfication.

Thanks for your advice.

Allow me to go further on a few items:
SSD Drive: I trust SanDisk. Will this fit into a PC or is it made for a laptop? SanDisk SDSSDP-064G-G25 64GB Solid State Drive - 2.5" Form Factor, SATA, 6Gb/s
Motherboards: Don't know who makes them. Is ASUS any good?
PC Case: This one caught my attention as it has enough drive bays inside I think. Cooler Master RC-430-KWN1 Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case - ATX/Micro-ATX, USB, Audio, 120mm Blue LED Fan, Black
 
Old 05-07-2013, 03:26 AM   #4
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfperkins View Post
I have already lost enough documents in the last week due to hardware failure.
Nope, one never loses documents due to hardware failure. Losing documents is always a failure in logistics, read: lack of a proper backup system.

Quote:
I have 2 PCs and a laptop that have Gigabit capability and they occupy 3 of the 4 connections in my Gigabit ethernet capable Router. I also cabled my home with Cat6E cables. I am not sure the pull of the WD Live TV box thought. The I/O on it might have to be considered.
If your infrastructure is Gigabit Ethernet capable all is OK, I just wanted to know that. I have seen enough people that wondered about low speed while using Fast Ethernet routers.

Quote:
I was going to create a KVM based file server on my existing server but just to mirror the most important stuff like the people's documents and forget about the Videos and Music files that can get ripped again at will.
Do I understand that right that you already have a server that after you have build the new server will run a VM that acts as backup server? Or do you plan to run the VM on the new server?
Quote:
Will this fit into a PC or is it made for a laptop?
There is no difference between SSDs for laptops and desktops, but there are (expensive) server SSDs. For your purpose (just housing the OS and swap) an enterprise SSD would be overkill, so the SSD you linked to should be fine.

Quote:
Motherboards: Don't know who makes them. Is ASUS any good?
Yes, I use ASUS and Gigabyte exclusively for mainboards, except the Intel mainboard in my Atom system.
Quote:
PC Case: This one caught my attention as it has enough drive bays inside I think. Cooler Master RC-430-KWN1 Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case - ATX/Micro-ATX, USB, Audio, 120mm Blue LED Fan, Black
This case has 5 drive bays for 3.5" disks, but you will need 6 (2 for the SSDs, which will be mounted using a 3,5" adapter in those bays, and 4 for the mechanical disks). Most midi-tower cases have only up to 5 3,5" bays, so it may be possible that you have to use a full tower case, like this one: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicatio...707&CatId=1510
 
Old 05-13-2013, 11:13 AM   #5
Beryllos
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Another perspective on home servers

This looks like an interesting project. You might want to give some thought to energy efficiency. Look for ways to reduce the power consumption, especially when the server is idle.

On my own electric bill, every additional 100 watts, running 24 hours a day, costs roughly $10/month. My current home server consumes fairly low power, and serves well for my purposes:
  • Dell Optiplex 745 USFF (ultra-small form factor)
  • 3 GHz Pentium D
  • 1 GB RAM, non-ECC
  • integrated gigabit ethernet
  • integrated graphics
  • 500 GB hard drive (larger than necessary, but it was a spare I had on hand)
  • openSuse, samba
  • two USB 2.0 external hard drives (1TB and 2TB)
  • Cat5e cables, gigabit router
I got the computer, with no hard drive, for $40 from a computer recycling center, but that's another story.

I am happy with the file transfer speed. In large file transfers over the network, I have seen 240 to 300 Mbps, which I think is more than adequate for digital entertainment, and not bad for home file service in general. The only catch I've noticed is the idle power-saving characteristics of the external drives; after 15 minutes of inactivity, they spin-down, which is fine for power savings, but there is spin-up delay of about 5 seconds the next time I access them.

I haven't measured the power consumption, but published data suggests it's about 60 watts when the system is idle. If I build another home server in the future, I might use a laptop with gigabit Ethernet. That should reduce the idle power to 25 or 30 watts (laptop idle plus USB external drives in sleep mode), and hopefully will be fast enough.

Reliability, Data Integrity, and Backup
You mention reliability, and you mention RAID. Just remember that RAID is not a backup solution. It will probably protect against single drive failures. It does not protect your files from overwriting or deletion (either inadvertent or malicious). It does not protect your system from physical risks like flood or theft. (I once had the computer stolen from my lab; luckily I had a recent backup tape and was up and running again within hours.) It sounds like you need to work on a backup solution.

Offsite backup is best. I try to maintain at least two copies of backup, each on a portable, USB-powered hard drive. To me, backup of documents and data is more important than backup of the OS, but I do both. At least one backup drive is kept at a secure location away from home.

Last edited by Beryllos; 05-13-2013 at 11:40 AM. Reason: Oops! I meant Mbps, not Gbps.
 
Old 05-15-2013, 04:24 PM   #6
ShadowCat8
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Greetings,

I see that most of the aspects you need for this project are covered. If I may add my 2¢ here, doing a mirrored RAID (e.g. RAID1) for the OS is not a bad idea. However, in my experience, doing a RAID1 for swap, especially on the same drive as the OS *is* a bad idea! You will likely see performance hits pretty quickly and it is not what RAID1 is meant for.

And, if you are doing a software RAID anyway, go ahead and mirror the OS partitions and leave the swap partitions independent.

Just my 2¢. HTH. Let us know.
 
Old 05-16-2013, 07:59 AM   #7
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
And, if you are doing a software RAID anyway, go ahead and mirror the OS partitions and leave the swap partitions independent.
The kernel will use swap partitions that are on different disks automatically in some kind of RAID 0 configuration, IIRC.
 
Old 05-16-2013, 02:58 PM   #8
jefro
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"Gigabit ethernet: PCI based? On board" Pretty much all onboard chips do connect to the pci-e or pci-x bus anyway. A gig nic usually is faster than the system/hard drives can supply anways.


You ought to consider a pre-made server from some big trusted company. The servers they sell tend to be a bit better quality. They tend to have linux supported components. They may have some things that slow stuff down like ECC memory and a few other tricks. On the plus side they tend to also have more virtual machine support. The processors are selected for server work. The prices of a good home server have never been better. They have also improved energy use. I don't think you can piece a box together that has the warranty and quality they come with.
 
  


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