RAID Array – 2

July 14th, 2009

Well, all the bits finally turned up! I haven’t actually much yet apart from making a few decisions, and taking a few pictures:

  • Can’t run my backup on Windows XP x86 – it doesn’t support more than 2TiB, so looking at a second Linux box. For the moment, my backups are going on the 3 separate 1TB drives I already have.
  • XFS seems great, but doesn’t care about bad blocks. Similar with JFS, although I haven’t been able to find out details. EXT3 seems the best bet, but if the FS goes over 8TiB, I’m going to have trouble
  • Software RAID is better than hardware in some terms – specifically in diagnosis. You can actually check temperature and SMART status per drive.
  • oh, and with hardware, you can’t span an array across multiple controllers
  • There’s a way to automatically check for Bad Blocks – see here
  • MDRaid seems to be the best way for software RAID
  • Fill all the drives with data, and randomly corrupt sdX and mdX, see if it can cope – and randomly remove one drive, see what happens

Ok, on with the geek pr0n. Enjoy some pictures of what I’ve got so far. Very impressed with the case too actually!

RAID Array

July 11th, 2009

Well, I finally did it. I’ve just bought 6,000GB of Western Digital Hard drives, a massive case and am finally planning to set up my fairly massive RAID!

I’ve spent a lot of time weighing up whether to spend (literally) hundreds of pounds on a Hardware RAID with all the nice nobbly bits, or to use Software RAID, what type of RAID to use, how to get all the hardware in there, whether its possible to extend a RAID easily without losing data, it’s been one hell of a battle.

Along with help from my friends Rich and Thom, who have a slightly better system than what I’ve got an are using hardware, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. There was also a very useful Slashdot post, Grishankh (216268) gave some excellent advice and I’d really like to thank him for it.

So what have I learnt about hardware and software RAID?

  • Hardware RAID is incredible expensive. If you need two PCI-E cards the same, you’ll want identical cards too.
  • Most hardware RAID cards are actually fake, and use software RAID. Expect to pay through the nose.
  • SMART monitoring on a hardware RAID is fraught with problems. Only some cards can tell you the SMART info.
  • Some hardware RAID cards use proprietary methods to store data, if you card dies and you can’t get another one, you’re possibly screwed.
  • Drives must must MUST be the same size, and preferably the same format to work best.
  • RAID 0 is just for spanning disks, RAID 1 is great but a tad excessive. RAID 5 seems a good, happy medium. If one drive dies, you’ll be fine, but you’ll probably lose data if more than one goes. But you really should have a backup anyway.
  • If you want to extend a drive, you’ll probably have to use a software RAID app like LVM on top anyway, so any benefits of using hardware is kinda lost.

That’s why I’m using software RAID. It’s only a file server, it’s not for anything mission-critical, I’d just like to have a big drive, and a massive back up of it, so I’m planning to set up two software RAIDs in the end, one on Linux, one on Windows. At the moment, I’m just going to be backing up anything important.

In terms of configuration; I’m no expert at this, but it looks like I’m to use:

  • IDE drive as bootup, and another as my (temporary) personal backup
  • 6x 1TB Western Digital drives connected under RAID 5 using
    • mdraid
    • LVM
  • to be honest, unless anyone else has any better ideas, I’ll probably stick with the Gentoo Guide as to setting up RAID.

So what about the hardware? Ok, well obviously I’ve gone for:

Cost a lot less than hardware RAID and should get me set up quite nicely! If anyone has any advice though, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks to all those who helped me =D

Busy times

May 31st, 2009

Things are actually going pretty well for me at the moment. Work is very busy, which is great, and I’m just about having enough time to squeeze in being sociable and seeing my friends. Sure it’s a bit more hectic that I’d like it to be, and things like hayfever, some quiet bouts of depression and people being a nightmare, it’s been ok.

Obviously missing a lot of my old friends. Seems to have been months since I’ve seen some of them. Others’ I’ve seen quite regularly, but things like Facebook help to stay in contact, so it’s not so bad.

Some arguments with, well, mostly one friend. Similar things have happened before though, with them and other people. Mostly about things that I’ve done wrong, but they’ve not been able to tell me I’ve done anything wrong, so things have got worse. Instead of just being honest and saying what they do and don’t like , it’s turned out as anger towards me, and I’ve taken that as them wanting more attention. What I didn’t realise was actually that’s what’s been getting to them, and ended up in a fairly major argument. That caused me to get pretty upset because I didn’t realise I was doing anything wrong at all, and they were too scared to be honest and just say how they’re feeling. Of course, now I’m getting all the blame for it when I didn’t know what I was doing was hurting them instead of helping.

I don’t understand why people just can’t be honest and explain what’s up, rather than hiding behind hints and expecting friends to just realise what’s up. I guess I’m as bad as anyone like this, but it’s got to a really hurtful argument that I could really do without right now. Especially since it’s all been a shock since I didn’t expect it, I thought things have been great lately.

To summarise, if somethings’ wrong – talk about it. Don’t hide behind hints and attention-seeking. It just causes anger and resentment.

More specifically, if you don’t appreciate that someone is trying to be there for you, accept that they’re trying, and appreciate it – but explain that’s not something you need right now. Don’t hide behind your emotions, anger, violence and sarcasm, because anyone sensitive is going to think that you’d appreciate more support; which is going to make it worse.

Other than that things are actually pretty good. Had some nice chats to my other friends, and actually feeling a lot more comfortable about moving forward with my life, which has felt like it’s kinda been on hold for a long time because of stuff on my mind, work and commitments.

One company I must mention – Microdirect suck. Lots of people seem to complain about their poor customer service, and there’s plenty of other stories about how terrible MD are, especially with awful returns. My experience? Bought a motherboard that turned out to be DOA (Dead on Arrival). Obviously I’d tested all the other components, and they were all fine in my testing board. This is for a customer, so I wasn’t too happy, but I guess sometimes Motherboard fail, right? (first time for me with this manufacturer!) I arranged a return, took days to get an RMA number, but I sent it back with their postage. Admittedy RMA postage was free for the first 30 days. Being as it was broken on receipt, I don’t see why I should EVER pay for return unless it turns out to be fine, but that’s just my opinion.

Anyway. I received the new one about 10 days later, remember I’ve got a customer waiting patiently. Got it all set up. Same problem. DOA; won’t boot, nothing on screen. Exactly the same. I checked the serial number, it’s the same as the old board! They’ve sent me the SAME motherboard back as what I’d sent to them. I phoned, they told me I was lying and that they’d probably put the motherboard in the old box, despite the board already having signs of being screwed in, having a loose northbridge heatsink and the backplate not being in a plastic bag. They couldn’t deal with it on the phone, so I had to fill in an RMA online. I said I’d like them to arrange collection and a refund, and to call me to arrange.

I didn’t even agree to their Terms and Conditions (disable javascript and it still sends). Of course, they just sent me an RMA notice a few days later again. Useless. I’ve heard many many times that they’ve a habit of saying things aren’t received, but I don’t see why I should pay for return proof of postage. Haven’t heard a word back from them and they won’t reply to my emails, so I’m arranging a chargeback with my credit card company. Bottom line – don’t deal with crappy companies such as Microdirect.

Must get in contact with some old friends, and get on with some side projects I’ve had in mind for years. It’ll happen this year. I’m sure. Aside from the arguments and stuff being my fault without me realising or being told about it, things are actually pretty good for once! Can’t actually complain, but could do with a hug if anyone has one spare?

Finally, an update!

May 3rd, 2009

Been a good week and a good weekend, got quite a lot of things done; been working on a PHP-based DNS manager that synchronises with other servers, and some gallery code and it’s all gone quite well. Though, I am slightly fed up with Javascript!

Other than that, had a pretty good weekend, met up with Kirkingham and did some videoing in Clacton Pier. Never realised how great my Fujifilm Finepix F10 is at recording video – happily does 30fps even when on the Techno Frog ride! I do have the video. I may post it if I can edit it properly (and get permission).

Feeling pretty rubbish today though. No idea why, had a nice sleep and a lie in, got a few bits done today, and spoken to a few friends, but actually feeling really low, quite sick and really quite down. Hopefully it won’t last, but I don’t know what to do in this kinda situation. Meh.

Take it easy everyone

Twitter Tools

April 22nd, 2009

I’ve been using Alex King’s fantastic Twitter-Tools plugin. Unfortutely it’s broken in WordPress 2.7.1 (and probably 2.5 and above). The category list doesn’t appear properly, so Tweets are put into the Uncategorised category.

I have found his SVN, which does seem to have an updated version, but before I found it, I ended up fixing it myself. My fix is based on Version 1.6, 2009-02-18, with only the category problem fixed. It seems to work fine for me, but the SVN is probably best for most people.

If you’d prefer my version, you can get a syntax-highlighted version here, or the plain text version here.  However, you’re probably better off going to and trying his SVN version!

Thanks to Alex for a great plugin!

I have returned

April 18th, 2009

Decided I may consider using my WordPress blog again, been unused in such a long time, thought it’d be nice to bring it back since I’m using Twitter and so on again!

Plus I can make comments on the work I am doing and some of the technical stuff I have done recently. Grab the RSS feed and keep updated!