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Old 01-06-2012, 12:31 PM   #1
killmanp123
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Help: Home server in my network


Dear people of linuxquestions,

I'm searching for as much as information as possible, but I'm stuck on the following, let me explain..

About two weeks ago I build this system:

- CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 260 3.20GHz AM3 Box
- RAM: Kingston 4GB DDR3
- Mobo: Asus M4A88T-M AMD 880G, SATA300 RAID, HDMI
- HDD1: Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ, 500GB, SATA300, 7200rpm,
16 MB buffer
- HDD2: Western Digital WD20EARX, 2TB, SATA600, 7200rpm, 64MB buffer
- HDD3: Western Digital WD20EARX, 2TB, SATA600, 7200rpm, 64MB buffer
- PSU: Cooler Master Elite Power 400W


I would like to use this system as my home server. The system is 'clean', so there isn't an OS installed.
I was thinking of installing a linux distro, say Debian..? But I really don't know whether this is a good choice for a home server.

I was thinking on using a 500GB HDD as the OS disk, but I don't know how to properly partition the drive for Debian (or another distro for that matter.) I don't like the idea of using the whole disk as one partition, since this is going to be a server machine. So If you could help me with this, that would be really, really great!

This is what I mean with partitioning (example):

/ <<< how much disk space?
/home <<< how much disk space?
/usr <<< how much disk space?
/var <<< how much disk space?
swap <<< how much disk space?
/tmp <<< how much disk space?

Note: it would be great if you could explain why you chose the amount of disk space per categorie.

I would like to use this machine for:

- Filesharing (With Windows and Apple computers)
- Backup
- Downloads (So this machine can download independently)
- Would be great to remotely access this machine trough SSH with PuTTY

I know that you can use Debian and other distro's without a GUI, but in my case, would it be recommended to use the GUI or CLI? I would prefer to use the CLI over the GUI though, as I want to learn as much as possible about it, but again, is it recommended to do so in my case?

So my questions are..

- Could you help me with this matter and provide me with information?
- Would you advise Debian as an OS for this machine?
- Which download do I need to choose when I want Debian?
- Would it be advisable to manage the server through CLI?
- What programs do you recommend to use that fit my requirements?

Any help or information that you have, would be very much appreciated!

Thank you very much in advance!

With kind regards,

killmanp123

Last edited by killmanp123; 01-06-2012 at 12:58 PM.
 
Old 01-06-2012, 01:31 PM   #2
salasi
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In no particular order:

Quote:
Originally Posted by killmanp123 View Post
I would like to use this machine for:

- Filesharing (With Windows and Apple computers)
- Backup
- Downloads (So this machine can download independently)
- Would be great to remotely access this machine trough SSH with PuTTY
For filesharing with non-Linux computers, look at Samba. Job done. (Not really, I've actually just redirected you to use a search engine to find a Samba tutorial...ask specific questions, if there is something that you don't understand.)

Backup shouldn't be a problem, if you have the file space, and don't want anything fancy. Downloads also.

As far as SSH is concerned, the thing to bear in mind is that SSH is not safe 'out of the box' necessarily, unless configured correctly. If you are behind any kind of firewall, including the primitive one in a modem/router, and it can block all ssh access from the outside world, then the worries are less.

Samhain has a nice summary of the things that should be considered to secure ssh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by killmanp123 View Post
- Would you advise Debian as OS on this machine?
- Would it be advisable to manage the server through CLI?
- Would you recommend programs that I can use on this server, making my requests easier?
Debian is a good choice; essentially, anything with a long support horizon (in other words, anything which has a long period of time until support is discontinued) is a good choice. CLI is advisable, but not compulsory. GUIs are (relatively) large complex things that might also be buggy, so if you can live without one, that is all to the good.

Not completely sure exactly what you mean by the last item; I'm going to suggest webmin, and let you tell me why you wanted something different.

While I'm making random suggestions, I'll also go for the website 'linuxhomenetworking'; it is based around Red Hat (/fedora/centos/scientific), so you may consider that a disadvantage, but honestly, if you can't read 'how its done on RH' and get a good idea of what you should be doing with Debian, then I probably can't help.


Quote:
Originally Posted by killmanp123 View Post
- CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 260 3.20GHz AM3 Box
- RAM: Kingston 4GB DDR3
- Mobo: Asus M4A88T-M AMD 880G, SATA300 RAID, HDMI
- HDD1: Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ, 500GB, SATA300, 7200rpm,
16 MB buffer
- HDD2: Western Digital WD20EARX, 2TB, SATA600, 7200rpm, 64MB buffer
- HDD3: Western Digital WD20EARX, 2TB, SATA600, 7200rpm, 64MB buffer
- PSU: Cooler Master Elite Power 400W
OK, the main thing that jumps out there is that you've got three disks, and a decent amount of RAM. Three disks, with a decent amount of space in total is a good start, so you shouldn't have any worries there for normal usage. With a decent amount of ram, there is less of a concern that you might run, eg, a heavyweight GUI and run out of ram, but it sounds as if you'll use the command line more, anyway.


Quote:
Originally Posted by killmanp123 View Post

/ <<< how much disk space?
/home <<< how much disk space?
/usr <<< how much disk space?
/var <<< how much disk space?
swap <<< how much disk space?
/tmp <<< how much disk space?
Given the constraints (ie, you have enough disk space, so not many), you probably can't do this badly enough, so that it is actually wrong.

If it was me, / would get 20G plus, home would depend on giving space for the users who will log on to this machine (assumption, that number is one, and its you) room to do what they need to do. My guess is that you don't want to do much on that machine itself (as oppsoed to using it as, eg, a fileserver for other machines) and you'd be fine with say 10G. I'd give swap, say 2G (you probably should never use it, but if things go badly wrong, it may be a useful fallback, and its cheap). I wouldn't make separate partitions for /usr, /var and /tmp, unless there is some particular reason.

That would then leave you with a large chunk of disk space. essentially, I'd expect you to want that for /data (or some other name, if you prefer) for filesharing. Now, you could decide to go for a raid array - this is tempting, using eg the multi-disk driver, but I am unconvinced of any advantage compared with, say, just having three stretches of data which you could mount as data1, data2 and data3, for example. You could use LVM to turn the three stretches of data into one big piece of data, but that may or may not be worthwhile, depending on your usage pattern.

Really, this depends a lot on your priorities - I'd never (exaggeration) use that much space, at home, but if you had some specific use in mind (eg, streaming movies, which would probably be the app which pushed the system hardest) then there would be a case to see whether what you had planned really met the requirements, because it is easy to design something which sounded like a good idea at the time, but which may be undesirable from a perf point of view.
 
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:16 PM   #3
killmanp123
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Thank you very much for your reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
For filesharing with non-Linux computers, look at Samba. Job done. (Not really, I've actually just redirected you to use a search engine to find a Samba tutorial...ask specific questions, if there is something that you don't understand.)
Ok, I will look at samba.

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Backup shouldn't be a problem, if you have the file space, and don't want anything fancy. Downloads also.
What can I use for downloading? For example usenet or torrents..
Do you got any suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
As far as SSH is concerned, the thing to bear in mind is that SSH is not safe 'out of the box' necessarily, unless configured correctly. If you are behind any kind of firewall, including the primitive one in a modem/router, and it can block all ssh access from the outside world, then the worries are less.

Samhain has a nice summary of the things that should be considered to secure ssh.
Again, I will look at this.



Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Debian is a good choice; essentially, anything with a long support horizon (in other words, anything which has a long period of time until support is discontinued) is a good choice. CLI is advisable, but not compulsory. GUIs are (relatively) large complex things that might also be buggy, so if you can live without one, that is all to the good.
I'll think I will try CLI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Not completely sure exactly what you mean by the last item; I'm going to suggest webmin, and let you tell me why you wanted something different.
I mean that if you got any recommendations on software that I can use, I will be glad to hear that! So if you got anything, please let me know..!

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
While I'm making random suggestions, I'll also go for the website 'linuxhomenetworking'; it is based around Red Hat (/fedora/centos/scientific), so you may consider that a disadvantage, but honestly, if you can't read 'how its done on RH' and get a good idea of what you should be doing with Debian, then I probably can't help.
Will check!




Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Given the constraints (ie, you have enough disk space, so not many), you probably can't do this badly enough, so that it is actually wrong.

If it was me, / would get 20G plus, home would depend on giving space for the users who will log on to this machine (assumption, that number is one, and its you) room to do what they need to do. My guess is that you don't want to do much on that machine itself (as oppsoed to using it as, eg, a fileserver for other machines) and you'd be fine with say 10G. I'd give swap, say 2G (you probably should never use it, but if things go badly wrong, it may be a useful fallback, and its cheap). I wouldn't make separate partitions for /usr, /var and /tmp, unless there is some particular reason.

That would then leave you with a large chunk of disk space. essentially, I'd expect you to want that for /data (or some other name, if you prefer) for filesharing. Now, you could decide to go for a raid array - this is tempting, using eg the multi-disk driver, but I am unconvinced of any advantage compared with, say, just having three stretches of data which you could mount as data1, data2 and data3, for example. You could use LVM to turn the three stretches of data into one big piece of data, but that may or may not be worthwhile, depending on your usage pattern.

Really, this depends a lot on your priorities - I'd never (exaggeration) use that much space, at home, but if you had some specific use in mind (eg, streaming movies, which would probably be the app which pushed the system hardest) then there would be a case to see whether what you had planned really met the requirements, because it is easy to design something which sounded like a good idea at the time, but which may be undesirable from a perf point of view.
1) 20GB plus? How will I know if 20GB is enough for /..?
2) What would you recommend for /home? (if you look at security). Say.. I want to make room for my family, because they want a backup. Or they want to temporarily store something on my server. Would you recommend that this goes through me or something.. or that they can login with there own username and password?? Please advise.
3) Swap 2GB, ok get that.
4) Don't make separate partitions for /usr, /var, /tmp. Ok clear!
5) What do you mean with "Just having three stretches of data which you could mount as data1, data2, data3" ? I could make a folder on the drivers and use that folder..? Sorry, but I'm trying to get this part .
6) Say.. I want to stream movies from my server. Any recommendations?

Again thank you for your time and help so far, I really appreciated this!
 
Old 01-06-2012, 02:45 PM   #4
lithos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killmanp123 View Post
1) 20GB plus? How will I know if 20GB is enough for /..?
2) What would you recommend for /home? (if you look at security). Say.. I want to make room for my family, because they want a backup. Or they want to temporarily store something on my server. Would you recommend that this goes through me or something.. or that they can login with there own username and password?? Please advise.
6) Say.. I want to stream movies from my server. Any recommendations?
Hi,
I would say
1. 20GB is enough for any Linux distro installation
2. /home - it could be mounted to the 2TB RAID1 array (made of 2x 2TB disks you have), RAID1 for backup security if one drive fails (eventually it will...) and shared with Samba, so you can open it in Network neighborhood from Windows machines (or anything else)
6. I found something about it
- a) here, b) here, and c) here so you might get the idea of what's needed (I don't know it ...(yet=))

Last edited by lithos; 01-06-2012 at 02:52 PM.
 
Old 01-06-2012, 03:01 PM   #5
killmanp123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lithos View Post
Hi,
I would say
1. 20GB is enough for any Linux distro installation
2. /home - it could be mounted to the 2TB RAID1 array (made of 2x 2TB disks you have), RAID1 for backup security if one drive fails (eventually it will...) and shared with Samba, so you can open it in Network neighborhood from Windows machines (or anything else)
6. I found something about it
- a) here, b) here, and c) here so you might get the idea of what's needed (I don't know it ...(yet=))
Thank you for your reply, lithos!

1. Perfectly clear!
2. Say.. I am not going to use RAID1. And I want the home server to be available to 4 more other people. What would you recommend? (also with security in mind)
6. Thank you, I will check the links! What do you mean with "I don't know it (yet)" ?

Thank you in advance!
 
Old 01-06-2012, 08:41 PM   #6
salasi
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Quote:
What can I use for downloading? For example usenet or torrents..
Ah, I was thinking that you might need a 'straight' download client (such as wget); there are torrent clients, but I don't use them, so maybe someone else will jump in. Otherwise, I'll recommend something, but be aware that I would be recycling other people's reports...

Quote:
I mean that if you got any recommendations on software that I can use...
My suggestion was webmin, and I was hoping that you might say what was wrong with webmin for your purposes, as that might make it clearer exactly what you do want.

Quote:
2) What would you recommend for /home? (if you look at security). Say.. I want to make room for my family, because they want a backup...
I would recommend that for people who don't want to log into this machine itself you do not use any of the space in /home for their file storage usage, and I'm assuming that is rest of the family, friends and anyone else, basically. So, you allocate them some space on /data or /data1 or whatever you decide to call it (and they might be actually called /data1/wife /data2/son, as rather stupid examples) and make that space available to them via Samba.

Quote:
4) Don't make separate partitions for /usr, /var, /tmp. Ok clear!
The only point is, don't just add extra partitions unless there is a reason to do so. Having a separate /home partition has an advantage (although you may not fully appreciate it, yet) so that's ok, but unless you can think of an advantage for adding a partition, don't.

Quote:
5) What do you mean with "Just having three stretches of data which you could mount as data1, data2, data3" ? I could make a folder on the drivers and use that folder..? Sorry, but I'm trying to get this part .
Let's simplify slightly by just discussing 'data1', for example:
  • the name is not important; it could equally be called footlewhirtle43 (although typing that would get old) provided that it doesn't clash with an existing name in the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard and doesn't contain reserved characters such as '/'; so it could be called anything, but something like data1 is clear, and is unlikely to trip you up later
  • all you are trying to do is reserve an area of disk that you are later going to tell samba is available for a certain user; in my stupid example, earlier, there could be a 'data1/son' and all you have to do is tell samba that only the appropriate user (son, in this case) will have access to 'data1/son'. the user need not even be aware that this area is known as 'data1/son', just know that he has a data area, with a limit on maximum size. He would also not necessarily be aware that other users see other data areas as their data area on the server, unless someone saw fit to point it out to him
  • how the disk space is presented on the client machines is a client side issue; in Windows, it is conventional to pick a drive letter (or several) that you use for network storage, so you might have a convention that 'the Z: drive' is always the network space allocated to the user (and someone else might have the convention that it is always 'the H: drive'...but these aren't really drives (they are actually 'drive mappings' which is slightly different) and which letter they get given is a client-side issue...the data space is still there, and it is just a convention that avoids some confusion that within a given Windows site that some particular letter represents networked storage
  • you could use more than one letter, but unless you intend to provide different spaces with different functions (eg, map H: to space that the user has exclusive use of, map I: to space shared between the users, etc) there doesn't seem much point...that doesn't seem to stop 'professional' Windows installations using every letter up to Z:, for some reason

Is that clear? I've got the impression that I haven't explained something that you are missing, but I'm not sure what it is.
 
Old 01-07-2012, 05:50 AM   #7
killmanp123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Ah, I was thinking that you might need a 'straight' download client (such as wget); there are torrent clients, but I don't use them, so maybe someone else will jump in. Otherwise, I'll recommend something, but be aware that I would be recycling other people's reports...
Sorry if this wasn't exactly clear, I didn't mentioned this earlier!
I will look for download clients.



Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
My suggestion was webmin, and I was hoping that you might say what was wrong with webmin for your purposes, as that might make it clearer exactly what you do want.
I checked the website and I don't think webmin would be a bad choice, it actually looks very good and makes it look easy!



Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
I would recommend that for people who don't want to log into this machine itself you do not use any of the space in /home for their file storage usage, and I'm assuming that is rest of the family, friends and anyone else, basically. So, you allocate them some space on /data or /data1 or whatever you decide to call it (and they might be actually called /data1/wife /data2/son, as rather stupid examples) and make that space available to them via Samba.
This is very clear!



Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
The only point is, don't just add extra partitions unless there is a reason to do so. Having a separate /home partition has an advantage (although you may not fully appreciate it, yet) so that's ok, but unless you can think of an advantage for adding a partition, don't.
I understand this. I don't think making all these partitions make things easier.
So would this be a good setup:

/ >>> 48GB
Swap >>> 2GB
/Home >>> 450GB (remaining space)



Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Let's simplify slightly by just discussing 'data1', for example:
  • the name is not important; it could equally be called footlewhirtle43 (although typing that would get old) provided that it doesn't clash with an existing name in the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard and doesn't contain reserved characters such as '/'; so it could be called anything, but something like data1 is clear, and is unlikely to trip you up later
  • all you are trying to do is reserve an area of disk that you are later going to tell samba is available for a certain user; in my stupid example, earlier, there could be a 'data1/son' and all you have to do is tell samba that only the appropriate user (son, in this case) will have access to 'data1/son'. the user need not even be aware that this area is known as 'data1/son', just know that he has a data area, with a limit on maximum size. He would also not necessarily be aware that other users see other data areas as their data area on the server, unless someone saw fit to point it out to him
  • how the disk space is presented on the client machines is a client side issue; in Windows, it is conventional to pick a drive letter (or several) that you use for network storage, so you might have a convention that 'the Z: drive' is always the network space allocated to the user (and someone else might have the convention that it is always 'the H: drive'...but these aren't really drives (they are actually 'drive mappings' which is slightly different) and which letter they get given is a client-side issue...the data space is still there, and it is just a convention that avoids some confusion that within a given Windows site that some particular letter represents networked storage
  • you could use more than one letter, but unless you intend to provide different spaces with different functions (eg, map H: to space that the user has exclusive use of, map I: to space shared between the users, etc) there doesn't seem much point...that doesn't seem to stop 'professional' Windows installations using every letter up to Z:, for some reason

Is that clear? I've got the impression that I haven't explained something that you are missing, but I'm not sure what it is.

Thank you very much, salasi!
This really helps in understanding how things work in Linux. It's nice to see that you really take the time to help me. So thanks!

Last edited by killmanp123; 01-07-2012 at 08:29 AM.
 
Old 01-07-2012, 07:23 PM   #8
killmanp123
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I've installed Debian successfully! I checked File server, SSH server and the standard utilities at the end of the Debian installation. I changed the ip address to a static one. Then I made connection to my server with PuTTY... Success!

Also Webmin installation went without huge problems! But now I want to mount the 2x2TB drivers, and I haven't succeed in doing that.
Please help me mounting the 2x2TB drivers!

It took me a while before I correctly partitioned them, because of the 4k alignment (Western Digital's Advanced Disk Format). But I think this is good now........

NOTE: About the 4K aligment and WD's Advanced Disk Format, I don't get that anymore.....
I tried so much possibilities with fdisk, but I really don't know what to do.

If someone could help me with, it would be very much appreciated!

Thank you in advance!

Last edited by killmanp123; 01-08-2012 at 06:11 AM.
 
Old 01-07-2012, 10:21 PM   #9
schneidz
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i admit i havent read the whole post but i would just try a few live-usb's and just accept the defaults for partitioning.
most linux distros act like a server by just turning on the services you need.

i have a fedora-15 server running quite nicely on a $200 acer revo nettop. i use it to store my movies and tv shows for my xbmc-live revo downstairs via sshfs. i also use apache to serve baby pics to my family.

fedora uses transmission as the default torrent client.

Last edited by schneidz; 01-07-2012 at 10:52 PM.
 
Old 01-07-2012, 10:31 PM   #10
frankbell
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I use Debian for my home server. If I weren't using Debian, I'd be using Slackware.
 
Old 01-08-2012, 06:24 AM   #11
killmanp123
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Thank you both (frankbell, schneidz) for your reply!

I think Debian is a good choice for a server. I don't know Slackware (yet), but I will check that out as well.

The current problem is with my two hard drivers (Western Digital WD20EARX, 2TB, SATA600, 7200rpm, 64MB buffer).
These drives need to operate with a proper 4k alignment in order to get maximum performance.

I did a lot of searching about this yesterday, but I don't know if I have partitioned the drives correct. If anyone could help me check this, it would be really great!

Thank you in advance for taking your time to help me with this!

NOTE (what I've read and trying to understand):

https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=99626
http://www.osnews.com/story/22872/Li...or_Hard_Drives
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...046/page2.html

And so on...


UPDATE:
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=99626&p=1
http://www.johannes-bauer.com/linux/wdc/?menuid=3

When I searched today for how to properly align the drive for 4k, again.. I found another website (2nd one).
Then I followed the steps for properly aligning 4k on the WD20EARS/WD20EARX drives. This is what I did:
  1. fdisk -cu /dev/sdb
  2. type 'n'
  3. type 'p'
  4. type '1'
  5. type 'w'
  6. Reboot

After that I did the same with the other drive (/dev/sdc).

Then I did the final step, taking care of the filesystem on both drives.
Command I used:
mkfs.ext4 -b 4096 /dev/sdb
mkfs.ext4 -b 4096 /dev/sdc

I think now everything is the way, that it should be!
Please also check out the attachments.

Thanks in advance!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Drives.PNG
Views:	7
Size:	31.1 KB
ID:	8778   Click image for larger version

Name:	Mounted.PNG
Views:	5
Size:	43.8 KB
ID:	8780  

Last edited by killmanp123; 01-08-2012 at 11:05 AM.
 
Old 01-08-2012, 09:42 PM   #12
rnturn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lithos View Post
Hi,

[ snip ]

2. /home - it could be mounted to the 2TB RAID1 array (made of 2x 2TB disks you have), RAID1 for backup security if one drive fails (eventually it will...) and shared with Samba, so you can open it in Network neighborhood from Windows machines (or anything else)
I would not use the Caviar Green disks in a RAID configuration. There is a warning on the WD web site about that, one that I wish I'd known about before I'd wasted the better part of a week debugging the awful timeout problems I was having with the RAID 1 volume I was attempting to build. (I was lucky in that I wound up being able to get an RMA for the disks.) You should look into some enterprise-class disks for software RAID. Unfortunately, the Taiwan flooding that closed down the disk drive manufacturers a few months ago has sent prices through the roof (almost doubled). The Caviar drives would be handy to plug into an external eSATA bay (~US$30) for backing up the internal disks. Alternatively, you could configure one of the 2TB disks for your data and the second as a target for a nightly rsync of everything on the first disk. Not the best solution but maybe a good solution until disk drive prices come back down.
 
Old 01-09-2012, 06:33 AM   #13
killmanp123
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Thank you for your reply, rnturn!

I won't using the WD Caviar Green disks in RAID1 configuration. Definitely not after your post, so thank you for your information!
I will use these two disks for my file-sharing and downloads.. for now! But I will definitely think about your idea.

Again thanks!
 
Old 01-09-2012, 08:33 AM   #14
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
I would not use the Caviar Green disks in a RAID configuration. There is a warning on the WD web site about that, one that I wish I'd known about before I'd wasted the better part of a week debugging the awful timeout problems I was having with the RAID 1 volume I was attempting to build... You should look into some enterprise-class disks for software RAID. Unfortunately, the Taiwan flooding that closed down the disk drive manufacturers a few months ago has sent prices through the roof (almost doubled).
I'd agree with all of that; using ordinary, consumer, drives in RAID arrays is problematic, precisely because of this issue, whether they are Caviar Green, or not. You might get away with it if you were on an UPS and could effectively 'guarantee' no unpredicted power up/power down cycles, but its a problem that you needn't have, and are better off not having. Although, if you already have an UPS, it might not be such a big deal.

And, only doubling? I've seen evidence of prices at least tripling here, so its not exactly the best time to be disk buying.

http://lwn.net/Articles/377895/
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/li...sks/index.html
http://www.linuxconfig.org/linux-wd-...dvanced-format
http://community.wdc.com/t5/Desktop/...EARS/td-p/6395

(that first may need membership, I'm not sure)
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 01-20-2012, 04:01 PM   #15
killmanp123
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I would like to thank you all for your time and help.

This really helped me in getting started with Debian!

I will mark the thread as solved.
 
  


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