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Old 06-11-2007, 05:11 PM   #1
TheFourthDoctor
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Registered: Jun 2007
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Question N00b needs help with partitioning his server


Note: I've posted this same post on at least one other Linux forum. I apologize if that's considered poor form, but I'm new at this and I'm trying to find out which forum "fits" me best.

Ok. While I've dabbled in the Linux/Unix world a bit in the past, I'm now diving in with both feet. I've just bought a swanky new box on which I plan to install OpenSuse 10.2 (64-bit) to use as a host OS for VMWare Server (I work in IT consulting and plan to use the box to both run some production VMs for my home office as well as some for testing/learning/etc.). The specs are:
  • Asus P5B-E motherboard with Intel P965/ICH8R chipset and JMicron controller
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz)
  • 4 Gb RAM
  • 6 x Western Digital 500 GB SATA 2 (WD5000AAKS_ST), all plugged into the ICH8R
  • 2 x Intel Pro 1000 GT PCI (PWLA8391GTBLK) NICS, in addition to the onboard Attansic L1 NIC
  • Floppy, DVD drive


Originally I planned on doing hardware RAID 5 but I discovered that the ICH8R can only do RAID on four of the six SATA ports. The reading that I've been doing in the meantime has led me to conclude that I should be just as well (if not better) off using software RAID anyways. I've also done a lot of reading on partitioning for Linux, especially with respect to RAID and LVM (both of which I plan to implement). Here's what I'm planning on doing:

http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/...im_b37c75e.png

You'll notice that I plan on starting the first partition on each drive at LBA sector 128. That's in order to align the partitions for the RAID 5 and LVM and is based on information that I found here:

http://insights.oetiker.ch/linux/raidoptimization.html


I'd really like to know if others have done any sort of alignment like that and whether or not they've seen a benefit. Since during the installation you are forced to partition on cylinders, I'm going to need to boot from a Live CD or something in order to partition the disk before the install.

I'm also not sure whether I should keep the root partition on the (small) RAID 1 partition or just create it on the LVM. I figure that ~1.8 GB should be plenty of space since I'm trying to keep the host as lean as possible (no GUI, just whatever VMWare Server needs and maybe some basic monitoring) but one never knows. As for filesystems, I plan to make them all ext3 for now, as that seems the most stable. I'm pretty keen on ZFS, but won't consider it until it's part of a stable kernel release. Perhaps once Apple releases it as part of Tiger we'll see more development on the Linux side.

I'd really appreciate any feedback from the community as to my plans, especially if you spot some sort of "gotcha" that I haven't considered. Any advice at all is appreciated. It's a bit ironic that I'm planning to use this VMWare Server to learn Linux and yet I need to have good and stable installation before I can start creating VMs smiley.

Lastly, I plan on documenting my experience in order to help out others that plan on doing something similar. Any suggestions on where I could submit that when I'm done?
 
Old 06-12-2007, 05:02 AM   #2
Notwerk
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Hello TheFourthDoctor,

Here's my 2 cents. Perhaps it would be better if you left /boot, / and the swap space as normal partitions (sda1, sda2 and sda3 perhaps), because this way you won't need the LVM or RAID kernel modules to access them. i.e. if the whole installation goes up in smoke for some reason and you need to boot in single user mode or off of some other boot media you can still access those partitions and fix whatever is preventing your system from starting (since you'll have access to the kernel and /etc). You can provide some form of redundancy for the system by creating similar logical partitions on sda and mirroring /boot and / there manually. True that this won't protect you from a hardware failure on sda but hardware failures are really less frequent than bad configurations and backing up /boot and / on external media is always an option. RAID5 requires an odd number of drives for the array so the remaining 5 drives can be your RAID5 array.

Other from that /home /usr /opt /srv /var are all good candidates to be mounted from their own (LV) partitions (depending on your needs, and security requirements). This way any re-installation of the OS wouldn't touch your files and you can easily change/upgrade the OS. Furthermore, as a side benefit you can mount each of them with different options (e.g. read-only for /usr or noexec for /var/tmp, etc...).

As for aligning the LVM and RAID partitions, i don't know much about that so can't help you there. Perhaps another reader could provide more input on this point. I've skimmed over the link you provided and the performance boost does look tempting, but again, i don't have any experience with this

One last recommendation. I'd go for ReiserFS for one single reason. You can re-size that filesystem while it is online and mounted. So if you need to resize any/all of your LVs it will be simple, straightforward and easy. Just a few commands and the space is reallocated as you need.

Cheers and good luck
 
Old 06-12-2007, 10:14 AM   #3
TheFourthDoctor
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Registered: Jun 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notwerk
Here's my 2 cents. Perhaps it would be better if you left /boot, / and the swap space as normal partitions (sda1, sda2 and sda3 perhaps), because this way you won't need the LVM or RAID kernel modules to access them. i.e. if the whole installation goes up in smoke for some reason and you need to boot in single user mode or off of some other boot media you can still access those partitions and fix whatever is preventing your system from starting (since you'll have access to the kernel and /etc). You can provide some form of redundancy for the system by creating similar logical partitions on sda and mirroring /boot and / there manually. True that this won't protect you from a hardware failure on sda but hardware failures are really less frequent than bad configurations and backing up /boot and / on external media is always an option. RAID5 requires an odd number of drives for the array so the remaining 5 drives can be your RAID5 array.
Thanks for your input, Notwerk. Though from what I've read so far (see here and here for instance) you can put /boot on a RAID 1 array. Is that not the case? Are there pitfalls to this approach that don't make it worthwhile? Also, I'm pretty sure that RAID 5 can use an even number of drives, just that the usable capacity is the total of n-1 partitions (where n is the total number of partitions used for the array, and assuming that all partitions are the same size). At least, this is the way that it works with commercial RAID 5 solutions with which I have worked.

Is ReiserFS still in active development? I thought that work on it had pretty much stopped. It did look to have some advantages over ext3.
 
Old 06-12-2007, 07:06 PM   #4
Notwerk
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Registered: Apr 2005
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Hello,

Actually a little more reading has clarified that you are right about the first two points. As for ReiserFS, active development had stopped for version 3 of this filesystem (except for bugs fixes and security patches) pending the release of version 4 which has been released
 
  


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