In the previous years I used a Western Digital MyBook World II (2x 500GB - Raid 1) as my personal backup device. For this purpose it was OK, as it's a very slow device. But as the MyBook slowly turned into an active share for my home network it came to it's limits. It's not very efficient to copy files with a rate of max ~11 MB/s when using a Gbit link. Time to upgrade and get a real thing!
A few weeks ago, a colleague told me that HP also produces Micro Servers for a very good price. I got a look at the N40L and it seems to have the exact requirements for a fast file server.
This little server features 4 x 3.5" disk slots and a dual core AMD Turion II processor at 1.5GHz. There are a lot of external USB slots, so additional external hard disks can be attached. I took the model with an embedded DVD RW drive to be able to burn data to discs if necessary. Another cool feature is an internal USB slot, which I used to install the operating system (Debian Squeeze) on. So the whole OS and its configuration is booting from the USB stick, while the disks are only for data.
And speaking of disks... Here's the only negative point. There's no hardware raid controller. It would have been nice to boot the server, go into some kind of raid BIOS and set up a raid for the disks. But no - there's no hardware raid. So my disk layout looks like this now:
HDD 1: Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB (seen as /dev/sda)
HDD 2: Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB (seen as /dev/sdb)
Internal USB Drive: 2 GB Standard USB stick (seen as /dev/sdc)
On /dev/sdc I created only a single partition which is mounted as / (root file system), formatted as ext3. The whole Debian Squeeze OS is installed on the stick. Of course this is a command-line only installation, otherwise the 2GB wouldn't probably suffice. As of now the OS (with Samba as file server already installed and running) uses around 40% of the 2 GB.
On /dev/sda and /dev/sdb I created the same disk layout: A single partition for LVM. After that I created the software raid and created a Volume Group in the LVM Manager. The VG called vgdata uses the created raid device /dev/md0 of course.
After the first successful boot, I set up the logical volumes: lvswap (4 GB) and lvdata (as for now 500 GB). To activate the swap, I did this:
Once lvdata was formatted as ext3 and mounted, Samba was configured. Then finally the copy test! I copied some media files with a size of several GB to the share and the average copy/write rate was at ~70 MB/s. This is pretty much the full speed of the two disks in a raid 1. Of course this speed could be increased if I added two more disks and created another raid type, e.g. raid 5. But if I compare with what I had before I'm more than happy.
So enough now with the talk. Let's see some pictures.