My setup 20080807 update

posted on 12:00 PM on Thursday 07 August 2008

It has been a really busy week or two. The disks were filling up (1.7TB) and I wanted to have a RAID setup for the really important stuff. So off I went to get 2 1TB drives. Initially I wanted to get an additional SATA controller to drive the new drives since there was quite a fair bit of space in the casing. However this proved to be next to impossible. I wanted to get a Silicon Image 3124 SATA controller since it was cheap and know to work well in Linux. I searched around and there appeared to be one shop in Sim Lim that carries a card that uses that chip. So off I went down to Sim Lim to buy the card and the hard drives.

When I got there, it was out of stock and they do not know when they will be getting new stock. Bummer, so off I went running from shop to shop to locate for a SATA controller. And I could not find a single Silicon Image 3124 in the whole of Sim Lim. Maybe I was not trying hard enough, but there were a lot of other controllers from Adaptec, Highpoint and 3ware. Unfortunately, they are kind of expensive since they had hardware RAID on board which I did not need. So for the first time in a long time, I went back empty handed.

Back home, I started to look online for a cheap SATA controller. Searched ebay and found a cheap Silicon Image 3114 which again appears to work with Linux. So I ordered it from Hong Kong and it was far cheaper than the 3124 that I wanted. The 3124 was going for $150 while the 3114 was about $35 with postage. But the only thing is that I had to wait for it. Well at least it was cheap.

In the meantime, I decided to just max out the current SATA ports that I have. I acquired a second hand WD 36GB Raptor and I wanted to use it for the root mount point. So that is one port down. There were 3 500GB WD which I wanted configured as a software RAID5. That leaves 2 ports (I have a ICH9R with 6 ports). So 2 1TB drives it is to house the rest of the data while I construct the raid and start putting the important stuff on it.

So off I went to Sim Lim again and again the Samsung F1 1TB drives which were deemed to be very good were out of stock. So I had to settle for Seagate 1TB drives. I also got 2 2GB RAM modules since I wanted to do a lot of virtualization to separate the production and development environments.

Back home, I got into trouble almost right away. The RAM modules were defective. memtest was complaining like crazy. The installation with a fresh install of 64bit Ubuntu 8.04 went fine but on reboot, GRUB went nuts. Well, I still could start up the system using the LiveCD, so I thought that I fixed the GRUB issue after I have the hard drives setup in the manner that I wanted.

Then I started on the copy process which takes a while since there were like 1.7TB to move around. A couple of months back, I noticed some data corruption issues so I decided to generate MD5 checksums and check all the files. I got the shock of my life when I found significant amounts of data corruption. Initially, I thought it was some silent data corruption issues but after a couple of days of crazy troubleshooting including the purchase of a new mainboard, I discovered that the mainboard was defective. And we are talking about a system that could withstand a full 24 hours of mprime. Ok so the cpu and the memory were alright but certainly not the storage part. I think there is some problems with the ICH9R southbridge. I should have expected it since the mainboard had a weird startup sequence where it would power up and then down and then finally up again. Oh, well, at least the problem was resolved.

The new mainboard was a ASUS P5Q-Pro with 8 SATA ports, 6 by ICH10R and 2 by a Silicon Image 5723. Ubuntu 8.04 did not recognize the Silicon Image 5723 and I could not see anything in ''lspci'' for it. Strange, perhaps there were some options not been set in the BIOS. I will work on it later. But finally everything is fine now. The new configuration is as follows: - 1 WD 36GB Raptor WD360ADFD-00NLR1 - root partition - 3 WD 500GB SATA WD5000AAKS-65YGA0 - RAID5 - 2 Seagate 1TB SATA ST31000340AS - Storage - 1 LG DVD writer HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55N - DVD drive There is 3TB of storage with 1TB in RAID5. I moved all the PATA drives to the E8400 machine and copied the data back to the server. So the windows machine now has 4 PATA hard drives and 2 SATA hard drives. This is the same number of drives as the server but of much lower capacity. I plan to use this as a secondary backup storage. So I have less than 50% space left on the server. The Sil3114 was delivered in a couple of days time, which I thought was pretty quick. Maybe I should buy online next time. And it worked perfectly well in Ubuntu 8.04 so that was good news. So I now have 4 extra SATA or 6 if I can get the Sil5723 to work.