Building a new home media server

This weekend I finally built my new home file server (been meaning to do this for most of 2006). The impetus was that last weekend I noticed Seagate 320 GB SATA2 drives priced at $95 / per on NewEgg, and just couldn’t resist.

The final contents of the system involved:

  • MSI K9N Platinum MB (6 onboard SATA, 2 onboard gig-e nics)
  • Athon64 x2 4400 CPU
  • 2 GB Ram
  • 6 x 320 GB (16 MB cache) Seagate Drives
  • A nice Lian Li case which takes 12 internal 3.5 drives
  • 600 W PSU

I scrounged a diamond stealth pci video card from 1999, a CD drive, and a small 20 GB IDE drive for the base OS (raid root was something I didn’t want to tackle).

I started by trying to install Mandriva 2007 b1 CDs….

Fail. Machine consistently turns off during “determining package selection…” screen. As in hard power off.

I then tried Mandriva 2006 i586 CDs (no reason to be 64bit yet)

Fail. There appears to be an issue with the onboard sata drives on this version of Mandriva. After much fiddling I end up turning off the sata controller in the BIOS to install.

Partial Success. Things install this time around with Mandriva, though the onboard nics aren’t found. So I throw in a 100 Mb card I’ve got laying around.

Fail. Machine doesn’t boot under installed kernel. It can’t find /dev/hda. Under the CD boot kernel, and the rescue kernel this is fine. I first blame this on LVM root, so reinstall without it, but no help there. Time to leave the problem alone and head of to NYC for shopping for the wedding.


Sunday morning… more coffee… more time to think…

I try an Ubuntu 6.06 CD, just to see if I’m hitting a Mandriva weirdness.

Fail. Machine turns off as soon as it starts looking for packages. Well, at least this is on a few distros.

Ok, Rescue CD it is. With Rescue CD in hand, I decide to pull down 2.6.17.6 source, and rebuild my kernel. It looks like at least a few nforce5 fixes went into 2.6.17, so that should make things better.

Success! As soon as I purge some of the hacks out of my kernel appends (which were screwing up ACPI discover of the sata drives), I can now boot with sata and onboard ethernet enabled, and working. Raid 5 setup took nearly no time, and given the write speed, I was able to push all 228 GB of data in the house that needed to be on that array there overnight.

This whole process took a little longer than I expected, but in the end was well worth it. In all it’s glory, here is the really cool df output, that uses T. 🙂

gallifrey:~> df
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda5 3.9G 1.9G 1.8G 52% /
/dev/mapper/vg-home 1.6G 39M 1.6G 3% /home
/dev/md0 1.5T 228G 1.3T 16% /data