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Old 10-14-2016, 01:14 AM   #1
Cracked Pane
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Which Distro has bootable RAID 1 support for my system? And other noob ??s


Iím studying up on how to install and run my first linux system.

For about 10 years, Iíve run a bootable (fake)RAID 1 with 3 partitions. One for the O/S and the other 2 for data. Recently I had to add a 4th partition for an O/S reserved area during forced migration to the newest broken pane O/S.

I keep a 3rd HDD on the shelf and rotate it into the RAID array regularly to keep a current backup offline. I like being able to rebuild the raid w/o a functional O/S when the need arises.

The only local Linux user I know suggested using software raid and if a rebuild / cloning operation was required while the OS was broken, then I could boot from a Live CD and use the OS in ram to rebuild the HDD array. Any thoughts on that approach?

Some system details:
16 GB ram ( do I need a 32 GB swap partition?)
AMD Athlon II quad core CPU
EVA Ė nvidia 9800GT 1 gb vid card
AsRock N68-GS4 MB with Nvidia 7025/630a chipset (with fakeRAID support)

Itís a home machine, some 2D CAD, use Excel, download photos, surf. No time for games (race / flying sims) because I spend too much time trying to maintain the OS.

The Distro web pages give overviews, but I need some details.

Does Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Home support bootable RAID 1 (software or fakeRAID)?
Or do I need the Server version?

What other distros might I consider for bootable RAID 1 support?

File Systems:

I read a blurb about ZFS. Is it still bleeding edge or is it the new accepted std? Do I need to reformat my NTFS data partitions or just the HDD partition the OS will be installed on?

If not ZFS, what file format is recommended?

I also hope to find support for my old Canon A40 camera and scanner (abandoned hardware) eventually.

Thanks.

Last edited by Cracked Pane; 10-14-2016 at 03:44 PM. Reason: file sys info
 
Old 10-14-2016, 08:08 PM   #2
jefro
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Howdy! Welcome to LQ.

If it were me, I'd ditch the faux raid controller or use it in normal mode. You really run a great risk with it. I'd move over to either a real hardware raid or use Linux software raid or if you feel adventurous use one of the file systems that have raid ability. Fake raid is nothing but trouble.

Yes, advanced file systems have a number of features that you may wish to investigate. ZFS and BTRFS have a wide array of features beyond simple file structure. Don't forget that RedHat is using XFS on LVM as standard so that may be a consideration too.

Ubuntu is basically the same. Most major distros are the same basic parts between workstation and server. Distrowatch has some of the major distros for your consideration. OpenSuse, CentOS, come to my mind when I think technical but you have to look at a number along with Ubuntu Server.

How much ram do you need????????? The answer is you have to find that out based on testing. The OLD rules are really no longer very good thumbs. Linux and hardware have improved to remove the need for swap in some cases. Swap still is slow even on raid swap or ssd swap. However one rule remains. More swap isn't usually a bad thing. You can set swappiness to help limit or use swap. You can set a value to various swap areas to force one over the other. You can use swap files as well as swap partition.

It is the best time to set up some virtual machines or try installing some test installs on your hardware. It isn't really easy moving from one distro to the next.

Last edited by jefro; 10-14-2016 at 08:17 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2016, 10:38 PM   #3
syg00
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First things first - go to the RAID wiki and have a look around. Scroll down to get their take on fake-raid (agrees with @jefro).

All major distros will have RAID as an install option. Be aware that some may also offer encryption - these are separate and you shouldn't need to do both if you don't want to.
- I use 2G as a default swap on all machines; more can easily be added later if disk space is available.
- don't use all your disk space - see above
- you can leave your NTFS partitions alone unless you need to reduce their size.
- RAIDing the boot code is not trivial. Linux uses some pre-boot code (initrd/initramfs) to load drivers for features such as this. Sometimes it won't boot if a disk fails (it should BTW). A liveCD as your mate suggested is an excellent option.
- as a new user stick with traditional filesystems (say ext4) rather than zfs or btrfs; both have a steep learning curve in addition to learning Linux. I'm a big fan of btrfs, but it's overkill for a new user. I avoid XFS as it can't be easily shrunk - fine for enterprise, but gets in my way.
 
Old 10-15-2016, 02:30 AM   #4
Cracked Pane
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Thanks for the input, guys.

Some of the intro pages I was reading dated back to 2009 or earlier. That's where I saw a tip to have 1:2 ratio of ram to swap space. Glad I don't need to allocate that much.

Posts about Ubuntu 12 and 14 said the home version did not include support for a bootable raid array. I think I'll start with the server version just so I know the raid support is there. I'll look at OpenSuse & CentOS too.

I have read and downloaded copies of some wiki-raid pages for near future ref and study.
Software raid has another advantage on my basic MB, in that all 5 of my sata ports are either assigned as raid or not raid in the BIOS. So a 2 drive mirror effectively uses all the ports.

So, Linux can read NTFS, but can't shrink or do other management ops on them?
I'll read up more on ZFS and other FS types.
"use one of the file systems that have raid ability." !? didn't know such a beast existed.

I'd read it was fairly easy to change distros w/o rebuilding the whole system and reinstalling all the apps. Must have been back when 1:2 swap was still valid. Thanks for the advice. Warrants more LiveCD exercises.
 
Old 10-15-2016, 02:37 AM   #5
syg00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracked Pane View Post
So, Linux can read NTFS, but can't shrink or do other management ops on them?
How did you get that idea ?. I said XFS.
Linux (ntfs-3g) is generally better than Windoze for shrinking NTFS - it can move files Win considers unmovable.
 
Old 10-15-2016, 03:12 AM   #6
Cracked Pane
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syg00

I inferred it from your comment:
Quote:
you can leave your NTFS partitions alone unless you need to reduce their size.
as in, if I need to reduce the size, then NTFS would cause problems.

I'm conditioned to expect problems. I started with 3.11 long ago.
 
Old 10-15-2016, 03:33 AM   #7
syg00
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Make sure you turn of Windoze fast start and hibernation if you intend to update NTFS from Linux - else it may show up as "in-use". Then you may find ntfs-3g will refuse to play ball.
 
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Old 10-15-2016, 04:11 PM   #8
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If you need to hibernate linux then you normally have to have more than the amount of ram in a swap partition. Not sure you can easily use a swap file.
 
  


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