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Old 12-07-2005, 06:21 AM   #1
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Greece, Xanthi
Distribution: Red Hat 9, FreeBSD 5.4
Posts: 38

Rep: Reputation: 15
Cheap 4 Terra byte File Server diskless, iSCSI , LVM

Here is the situation.

Im the administrator of a student network of 350 people in the student campus of Xanthi Greece. We are NOT funded by the university or anybody else so we pay for everything in our network. The goal is quite simple.
We need a 3 - 4 Terra Byte fileserver.

1. Cheap. No SCSI, no fancy disk controllers, not expensive equipment.
2. Unique space. No divisions (partitions) of any kind
3. Easily expandable

The purpose is to store there the data (movies, mp3, games, projects e.t.c) of the network. The plan is to make a cluster of 4 old PCs (PII PIII) that should work diskless using network cards with boot rom and PXE. Then mount all disks locally with iSCSI (GFS) and unite them with software raid 5 + LVM. But before asking 350 students to pay for this plan I have a lot of questions need to be answered.

1. Has anybody done this?
2. How stable and viable is the whole thing?
3. Can I recover the contents of a single disk using a windows or a Linux box?
4. Can I do it with different size disks?
5. The usable/real space ratio is 4/5 with raid 5 (if I have 5 200GB HD I will have 800 GB space). Is there another raid with better ratio and more disks?

Any answers or ideas?

I Thank u in advance

Old 12-08-2005, 03:37 PM   #2
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Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
Distribution: Slackware ?-14.1
Posts: 1,029

Rep: Reputation: 47
to me it sounds like your biggest problem will be disaster recovery. i'm assuming the users will not be happy if a disk fails, or the software RAID blows up and loses all the data.

Plus you don't mention anything about a backup. It will cost an extreme amount of money to backup 3-4 terra bytes.

the idea of using second hand 'old' computers also raises the chance of hardware failure about 100% plus they won't be under any warranties so you will have to pay for any replacement parts.

not sure what your budget is, but this would cost around $10,000 US to setup that amount of storage space with a partial backup. a quick google shows a dell backup that supports 4.4 terrabytes costs $4000 US, that is without buying any tapes.

EDIT: If all 350 each donate about $35-40 US you can set this up with new hardware and not be worried about losing data.

Last edited by Finlay; 12-08-2005 at 03:40 PM.
Old 12-09-2005, 10:31 AM   #3
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Greece, Xanthi
Distribution: Red Hat 9, FreeBSD 5.4
Posts: 38

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Ok the conversation in this forum convinced me that i should go for new equipment with hardware raid 5. our budget is around 3500 euros (10 euros each) i hope i'll make it


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