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I'm putting together a web server on a very tight budget. That is the reason I am going for software (or fake) SATA RAID and not true hardware RAID (I'd need a very expensive 3Ware controller for that).
I only need RAID1 at the moment for stability.
What motherboard with an integrated controller for RAID 0/1 would you advise me? Of course, it has to run flawlessly under Linux (*BSD would be nice too)
Having a 1000/100Mbit port(s) and graphics integrated on it would also be a plus.
Besides the motherboard, this is what I've come up with:
Atlon 64 3000+
2x 512 pPC3200
2x Seagate SATA 7200.8 200GB
This seems pretty confusing. You want to do software RAID but you want an integrated 0/1 RAID controller? If you are doing software RAID, then you don't need a RAID controller. That's the entire point of doing software RAID. You just need a bunch of hard drives that you can format, Linux does the rest. Some of the less expensive controllers use some system resources to control things, but the actual partitioning tables are handled in the BIOS of the controller I believe. Is that what you are talking about or the pure software RAID method? If you don't care which type of software RAID it is (performance-wise, there really isn't too much of a between the two ways), then any motherboard that can manage to "see" the hard drives that are added to its SATA ports will work. Read hardware reviews and you should find dozens of mobos that can do that with Linux. Then, just google for software raid how to and you should find instructions on how to do the pure software method. Personally, I wouldn't recommend pure software for RAID 5 because where I work we had a server freeze one time and when it rebooted it couldn't remount the drives and so ALL of the information was gone. With RAID 1 however, that's not so much of an issue and I think pure software will work well for you.
I do not suggest Seagate or Maxtor SATA hard drivs because they have problems with DMA. I suggest Western Digital or Hitachi. I do not suggest using on-board add-on controllers for servers. I suggest Highpoint because you can use kernel version 2.6.x with out waiting for the manufacture to come out with a new version of drivers to work with kernel version 2.6.x.
A lot people do not know the difference between RAID 0 and RAID 1 on accessing files. RAID 0 doubles to multiples throughput but at a cost of being serial or accessing one file at a time. RAID 1 performs the same as one hard drive on terms of throughput but doubles or multiples the files it can read at one time. RAID 1 should be used for servers when a lot of people are going to be accessing it.
ABIT AN8 Ultra is a cheap and reliable motherboard because it uses a heatpipe to cool off the chipset. A heatpipe will give you a more reliable setup than using active solutions. It also supports Athlon 64 X2 processors. I know you are setting a server, but a GeForce6 6200 will be cheap and easy to setup.
I understand what you're saying. I just thought that it might work better under Linux with a RAID controller than by plugging the disks directly to the mobo (I've never used put together a RAID array before and I dont want to learn it the hard way)
So Abit AN8 should be a good choice if I am to set up a RAID... does it even matter which motherboard I choose to run under Linux as long as it has at least 2 SATA connectors?
If everything is done by software, the only thing that matters is that Linux recognizes disks connected to mobo, right?
Well, my opinion is going to differ from electro's I guess. We are setting up 3 data servers where I work. So far our worst experience has been add on RAID controller in Linux. As in, they just didn't work. We got ONE to see the hard drives, but the hardware RAID functions didn't work, so we used software RAID 5. That was an expensive promise card. I think it was higher end than any of the ones you have listed. It was also the hard drives connected to that card that were unable to mount after a couple months and lost us a Terabyte of data. We ended up just using the onboard SATA ports and setting them up as JBOD. We don't have redundancy, but at least we don't have to be afraid of a couple hard drives failing to mount and losing everything. Again, you shouldn't have to deal with this issue if you're using RAID 1. Our best experience has actually been just using Windows Server 2003. It just works because the drivers are there, and it's reasonably secure. However, it's extremely expensive for someone who is working on a tight budget and Windows XP just isn't secure enough if you have vital data.
So my advice would be very different from electro's. You can go with whoever you feel like. I'd say find a compatible motherboard with 4x SATA ports on it and has good reviews. The ABIT AN8 does look like a good idea. It has 4x SATA, and the built in RAID controller most likely won't work, but the hard drives should. I'd agree that you should put at least your root partition on another drive. Using another port on the mobo should work. Then you have 4x slots for your RAID array. If you need to expand later, then hopefully there will be more options for SATA RAID controllers by then. Right now, SATA RAID controllers in Linux are mostly expensive or hard to find. If you wanted a separate controller for RAID that is compatible with Linux, I'd say that ATA might be the way to go because there are more options.
The Promise S150 TX4 (PrSata II 150TX4 S-ATA) will be better if you want to be a little flexible what 2.4.x kernel you want to use. Use only Linux software RAID instead that comes with the controller because using the Promise RAID management software will only work with one card. If that card gives you trouble, get the Promise FastTrak TX2200 although this card does have problems with DMA. If both these cards gives you problems, get the Adaptec Serial ATA RAID 1210SA. The cards mention, use only Western Digital or Hitachi hard drives because the Promise controllers will have problems setting DMA with Maxtor and Seagate hard drives.
The reason why I suggest Highpoint instead of the controller manufactures mention above is because Highpoint provides software for kernel version 2.4.x and 2.6.x in open source. Also they provide binary modules (drivers) for the latest Linux distributions. Highpoint controllers are reliable in any OS. If you can find Highpoint controllers in your area, buy it over the controllers from the list. Using kernel 2.6.x increase system performance by 15% than using the kernel 2.4.x.
SATA controllers are not hard to find and expensive. In old countries, they do not have any room to stock a wide variety of products. In my country (USA) has the room to stock a wide variety of products.
Hmm... I still fail to see why it's so useful to have an add on RAID card when you'll be doing software RAID anyway. Especially with RAID level 1. You don't get any benefit from the hardware because it's all going to be handled in software. If the motherboard itself has enough ports now, then the extra ports on the card aren't that necessary. So far you aren't getting a major performance OR capacity boost. And you've spent an extra 100 bucks on a card and an extra hour on installing an extra piece of hardware and the extra drivers required by it. You really aren't getting any extra stability out of it since, again, the RAID is handled in software. And the fact that it is RAID 1 means you have full redundancy for each drive in the array, so even in the case of a major failure, full recovery should be easy (as opposed to RAID 5 where simultaneous failure of multiple drives can take things down).
BTW, thanks for the recommendation of Highpoint controllers as those aren't ones I've used personally. We've mainly stuck with Promise as being a good name and claiming to support Linux (though our experiences with the software they claim to support have been near disastrous). It's nice to hear some success stories for Highpoint controllers. Next time my lab needs to expand our Linux server I'll keep those in mind (our Linux server actually HAS used up all the motherboard SATA ports now).