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I have a repurposed server. Before the repurpose it was an ESXi host so it had 6 2TB hard drives and an Adaptec 6805 SAS RAID card (and 2 6-core processors and 128GB ECC RAM which is another problem) but now decommissioned as a VM host it is receiving a desktop version of Ubuntu.

During the VM Host days I found out that the RAID card have a bit of personality though, requires a fan on it to perform reliably, and if the fan get clogged by dirt it can lock up from time to time.

Now how should I manage the drives in its most efficient way? I'd like to use RAID-10 or RAID-5. The motherboard do have enough ports to hold the disks.

Options:

  1. Get rid of the RAID card and build an array using the onboard soft RAID Option ROM and dmraid
  2. Keep the RAID card and build the array there.
  3. Keep the RAID card but use it only as a JBOD, and build the array in dmraid
  4. (Joke option) sell the drives and the RAID card (and half the RAM) - one 2TB spinning platter drive is more than enough.
  • I don't understand what you are trying to achieve or ask here. None of options posted are RAID. If you are looking to setup hardware raid (not sure how software raid would better than hw raid as it is clearly understandable that sw raid is relays on OS side while hw one is OS independent) here a good link cyberciti.biz/tips/raid5-vs-raid-10-safety-performance.html Different raid sets has differen pro and counters but if you are looking to obtain best storage in term of size raid 5 is what you are looking for. – ostendali Dec 11 '15 at 14:30
  • @ostendali RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks so see the word "array" scattered across my options? I understand the RAID levels so no need to point me there. What I am trying to achieve here is to get the most of my server-grade equipment's worth out in a more desktop-like use scenario. – Maxthon Chan Dec 11 '15 at 15:07
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While I don't want to point you away from askubuntu, you may find more input on serverfault, or other linux forums. What you will get here is most likely opinions based on personal experience (and possibly limited to Ubuntu), which would be all I could offer you.

That being said, the RAID card you have is known to be one to run VERY hot. So the fan requirement is well known.

I personally would not sell any of the hardware, since you will never recover anywhere close to the amount you originally spent. Hang on to it, and use it.

Now, as far as your question regarding using dmraid, I would steer away from it. The only reason I would use it is if I didn't have a Hardware RAID card (you do) and if I had to dual-boot with Windows and Linux.

If all you are going to run on it is Ubuntu, and you don't want to use the RAID card, you could simply use mdraid (not to be confused with dmraid), which is very mature by now. I have a couple mdraid RAIDs in use for many years now, without any issues. The nice thing about mdraid is that you can move controllers without major problems. But you will most likely want to have a separate boot drive, for ease of setup.

Again, it really does depend on how "mission critical" your setup will be. The more it needs to be 100% reliable (which nothing is), the more you will have to invest into Hardware RAID and redundancy.

Just my 2 cents. Others will most likely have a different opinion/experience. :)

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  • So your suggestion is keep the card and keep its fan working, until the fan clogged and move to mdraid? – Maxthon Chan Dec 11 '15 at 15:09
  • Unless you have a second set of disks, moving from the Hardware RAID to mdraid would be hard. So, no I would not suggest that. My suggestion is to keep the card and use it (make it work). If you do not like the fact that it gets hot and may become unreliable without maintenance (cleaning), then it I would right away start with mdadm (mdraid). But the idea is to start with the method you are going to stick with. I would also suggest reading up on Hardware vs. Software RAID, but be careful: some deep emotions are attached in this topic! :) – G Trawo Dec 11 '15 at 16:06
  • I am wiping ESXi off that machine anyway, so there is no "moving" involved. ESXi have a hard requirement of hardware RAID cards if you want to use any form of RAID you need the card, but now using straight up Linux the card can be pointless. – Maxthon Chan Dec 13 '15 at 4:59

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