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Old 12-06-2007, 02:17 AM   #1
Registered: Nov 2005
Distribution: PCLinuxOS .92
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Building a new server, Best Motherboard with Raid Support?

I have a Linux box that has migrated from a test station to a web server. There is nothing wrong with it, but I would like to migrate all that it is doing over to more reliable hardware. The task at hand is to host 4 websites and our intranet. The intranet includes several LAMP web apps and about 30 MySQL databases. The machine limits is nowhere near being tasked to its limits. I also want to move over our MRP databases (3 in total). The main chore of the server is SQL databases whether MySQL, Oracle, or SqlBase.

Current setup includes:
Biostar ($45 motherboard with built-in video, nic, sound, etc)
AMD 3800+ X2 AM2
2 SATA drives non-raid and a Western Digital MyBook for backup

What I would like is:
Motherboard (NEED HELP HERE) that is more up to the task of being a server, would prefer a Raid 5 that is compatible with PCLOS
AMD 6400+ X2
4 Gig Crucial Memory
4 200 Gig SATA drives setup as Raid 5
Rackmount case

Does anyone have any suggestions for a fully Linux compatible motherboard that has proven reliability and is capable of at least a Raid 5?
Old 12-06-2007, 02:43 AM   #2
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Los Angeles
Distribution: Slack64 14.1
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Originally Posted by b18b View Post
Does anyone have any suggestions for a fully Linux compatible motherboard that has proven reliability and is capable of at least a Raid 5?
Most, if not all, MBs with built in RAID are only RAID 0 or 1. For RAID 5, you usually need a dedicated card.

Old 12-06-2007, 03:28 AM   #3
Registered: Nov 2005
Distribution: PCLinuxOS .92
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Maybe I am a little mixed up, but it looks like most of the higher end Supermicro, Gigabyte and Asus server motherboards have at least raid 5 and many with raid 10. Here's an example of a Supermicro ->
and an Asus -> and a Gigabyte ->
Old 12-06-2007, 08:06 AM   #4
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Arch, CentOS, Fedora, macOS, SLES, Ubuntu
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Generally speaking, if you're not going to use linux software RAID with the mdadm tools, I'm not a big fan of RAID controllers integrated on the motherboard. Why not? If the controller dies you're completely out of business--and it may be difficult to obtain another board immediately.

Moreover, many of the onboard RAID solutions aren't actually true hardware RAID devices, and will not work with linux.

Linux software RAID has come a long way over the years--it's definitely a lot better than the Microsoft offerings.

One of the biggest advantages to using it is that, following the proper steps, you actually can physically move the drives to a different server, and then re-mount your data in the new environment, if necessary.

Another advantage of linux software RAID is that you won't need to use a vendor-provided hardware driver for you RAID card--which may not be supported in the near future, or proves to be unreliable in your configuration etc.

The biggest disadvantage to linux software RAID is it's a bit difficult to learn at first--there aren't a lot of pretty graphical tools available for managing it as yet.

If you were to use a hardware RAID solution I probably would suggest one of the offerings from Areca or 3Ware--both have pretty decent linux support and, if this is a mission-critical server as it sounds, you could purchase two of the RAID controllers at the same time, in order to have one available as an immediate replacement.

The RAID controller itself shouldn't be just a plain 32-bit PCI card; for best I/O bandwidth I would aim either for a 64-bit PCI adapter, or one that utilizes PCI Express (PCIe). Obviously you will need to purchase a motherboard that fully supports the slot needed. (Although you can install 64-bit PCI cards in 32-bit slots, they will perform at greatly reduced speed, effectively negating possible performance increases the 64-bit bandwidth otherwise provides).


While it might be ideal to get a server-class, or at least workstation-class motherboard, as both tend to have designs that include an increased focus on overall I/O throughput, you may do just as well to purchase a decent "desktop"-class board along with a pair of RAID cards (as mentioned above) for about the same price, possibly less.

Most of the more recent desktop boards come with at least one or two extra PCIe slots.


Do you need 4GB of RAM? Will you be running a kernel that actually supports the full amount easily? Your CPU of choice, the 6400 X2+, in addition to the standard i386/i686 kernels, also can run the X86-64 kernels, which don't actually have to use the Physical Address Extension hack. It basically means your system will be able to use the full 4GB of RAM more effectively--a definite bonus on servers hosting multiple databases.

If you can afford 4GB, go for it. If you're really limited on funds, though, you might want to purchase just 2GB and focus on upgrading another part of the system.

Hard Drives:

I know you mentioned four 200GB SATA hard drives... but if you have the funds, I would recommend going for four or more of the Western Digital Raptor 160ADFD drives. Sure, they're only 160GB each, but they're also 10,000 rpm enterprise-class drives, and provide great performance in a striped RAID array (0 or 5 etc.). Almost SCSI performance for quite a bit less money. They require decent cooling, though--tend to get a little warm

Hopefully this helps give you some ideas. Sorry if I babbled on a bit.
Old 12-12-2007, 02:55 AM   #5
Registered: Nov 2005
Distribution: PCLinuxOS .92
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strick1226, thanks for the information. It is VERY helpful and I will bookmark this as reference. 4 gig of memory is no problem but the 64bit does seem to have some limits.

I have reconsidered the Server MB direction and looking at a solid desktop MB.

Here is what I have come up with so far.

ASUS M2-Crosshair with 4 Gig of memory
Adaptec 2420SA Sata-ii PCI express with the battery backup option
6x Western Digital WD1500AHFD 150Gig drives.

Here is another question that seems to be somewhat elusive. In a virtual machine I want to install a windows operating system for one of the database platforms (Centura SQLBase). I would test this out thoroughly for any performance hits being in a virtual world. What Windows operating system do I go with? It will not need to be on the domain, so technically XP Home would be sufficient, but I don't think that would be robust enough. I have experience with MS Server 2003 and to be honest it is rather stable. So I was looking into MS Windows Server 2003 Web edition. From what I gather the web edition is not and cannot be used as a domain controller, but it can join a domain if needed. There are some limitations of web server 2003 as not being able to be used for MS SQL deployment, but that is not a problem either if it is limited to MS SQL.

Last edited by b18b; 12-12-2007 at 03:00 AM.


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