View Full Version : New Server Hardware/Linux/Raid

2008-02-27, 10:16
Hello All,
I have done a fair amount of hobbyist work over the years with Red hat and SUSE running on very old PC hardware. I have one server that is an old Pentium II, for example.

I'd like to consolidate some of these old linux boxes (which have a collection of cobbled together 80G drives, for example) into one relatively modern, power efficient, server which can run slimserver and be a general file server for the rest of the house.

I have my MP3 files currently on two locations, on a desktop PC and the server PC. That way, if either PC dies I still have the mp3s. I could, of course, re-rip all the CDs I own - but that's a time consuming process I'd rather avoid. On the new server I plan to do Linux software raid. Maybe RAID 5, or possibly, RAID10 (perhaps using 4 new disk drives). BTW, I don't plan to delete the mp3s from my desktop PC. So once I get the new server setup I'll still have mp3s on both the desktop and the server - it's just that I'm hoping the server will survive farther into the future if it is RAID.

Could anyone recommend a barebones server hardware, to which one could add 4 disk drive, memory and CPU. I'm not looking for the absolute cheapest solution - in fact, I'd like a system with a power efficient power supply, power efficient hard drives - and since I may store video on the server as well as other stuff gigabit ethernet. I don't care about video or audio on the server - it will run in my home "wiring closet" with no montior, keyboard or mouse.

I'm thinking about using Ubuntu since that seems to be popular these days and sounds like it works well with slimserver.

Any hardware advice, tips, pointers to other info much apprec.



2008-02-27, 13:21
I have a simple AMD machine with an ASUS M2N-E motherboard in a generic case with one of these:


It can hold 5 SATA drives (I have 5x 300G Seagate right now) and there are 6 SATA ports on the motherboard.

I use Ubuntu with Linux software RAID in a couple combinations.

md0: / is RAID1 on 4 drives with hotspare
md1: /usr, /var, /tmp are in LVM on RAID10 4 drives with hotspare
md2: /home, /data are in LVM on RAID5 on all 5 drives

so each disk has 4 partitions:
1G for md0 (root)
256M for swap
10G for md1 (system LVM)
rest of disk for md2 (data LVM)

This is of course a slightly complex setup, but not hard to do from the Ubuntu Alternate installer. I don't think the GUI installer can do this complicated layout.

2008-02-27, 14:28
That is very cool. I love the idea. I guess that you have to be a little careful to make sure that the case that you get can accomodate this disk exnclosure. Does it fit most standard cases?

BTW, my idea of "building a computer" is to get a barebones, then add CPU, Memory, Disk - I know - that hardly counts. I've not gone to the next level to buy the motherboard, power supply, etc and *really* build it from scratch. But I guess that I could. The idea of researching the multitude of motherboard and cases out there is a bit daunting though...

Thanks again - I'll read up on this.

2008-02-27, 15:56
Yes, there are many mini and mid size desktop cases that can hold the drives like that.

The case I use is actually an old 4U rack case I salvaged from a server room cleanup the old junk session. Built like a tank.

I replaced everything in it including power supply.

This one is a bit bulky, but has all kinds of room. If you're not worried about hot-swap, it would let you skip the supermicro sata enclosure.

Lian-Li also makes several nice cases:

Make sure you find a power supply that is labeled "80 Plus". This will reduce your power bill, and give you warm fuzzies if you're a save the planet type. ;-)

2008-02-27, 16:09
Sorry, I didn't fully read your second comment..

Yes, the supermicro enclosure takes up 3x DVD/CD drive bays.. it works most of the time, there are some cases that have shelves or other bits that get in the way.

Barebones machines are also just fine, I personally really like the Shuttle barebones systems for simple desktop PCs. Takes a lot less effort picking out parts.

Sometimes what I do is just find a local computer shop that builds PCs and pick up the parts. Places like Central Computers in the SF bay area, or General Nanosystems in Minneapolis.

2008-02-27, 16:33
You would probably want to look for a unit where you can install front accessible media bays where you can mount single 3,5 hot swappable drive racks, or there are also some available that allows for 4 units.

It's a lot easier to handle the hard disks this way.

I have seen such units very affordable in Norwegian web shops ($60), for both IDE and SATA disks... which means that this would be readily available anywhere in the world I reckon.

Do you understand what I'm suggesting?

Oooops, I should have checked the links... before writing this :-))


Harald N

2008-02-27, 18:31
I just built a server using a PC2500e motherboard, 1 GB of ram, and old PS, case, and HDDs. I installed Kubuntu 7.10 and it runs fast and reliably. The motherboard with CPU sells for $60 at ClubIT.
It has 2 IDE channels, 2 SATA channels, and 4 USB ports so it can connect to as much old or new storage as you'll ever need.


2008-02-27, 18:35
If you want more of a barebones style setup, these Norco appliances look interesting:

DS-520G (http://www.norcotek.com/item_detail.php?categoryid=5&modelno=DS-520G) (add FreeNAS on a 128MB CF card), or DS-520M (http://www.norcotek.com/item_detail.php?categoryid=5&modelno=DS-520M) (comes with MS Home Server license)

Have one of the Supermicro 5xSATA enclosures presently: it works as expected (beware cases with folded metal "shelf" protrusions under each 5.25in bay). The fan is loud but can be easily replaced with something less noisy.

2008-02-27, 21:03
SuperQ and All,
Thanks for the tips. I've always heard good things about Antec cases. Noise is not too much of a concern since this will actually be in a Wiring closet/Laundry room. Also, since it is in the basement it tends to be very cool.

BTW, I love Shuttle stuff - my main computer is a shuttle and I have 1 that I bought off ebay for use with MythTV.