Built this box a month ago, with the express purpose of running FreeNAS or FreeBSD on it, for ZFS. Essentially :
Athlon II X2 255
8 Gigs ECC RAM DDR3 1333
7 X Hitachi 3TB hard drives
1 X WD 500GB System drive (not used with FreeNAS right now)
Plan was to use ZFS, with 6 drives in a RAIDZ2 array with one hot spare. Thing is, FreeNAS has started acting up lately and I am considering switching to Ubuntu, either server or desktop.
Honestly, I'm not too concerned about speed - more reliability. This box is only for back-ups (I already have a file server - the contents of which also need backing up - for streaming my media), but I do need it to be able to run 24/7. That being said, I would appreciate the functionality of a full desktop, especially when setting it up. My questions :
1. Is it possible to set up the Desktop version of Ubuntu, to just use my 7 3TB drives in a RAID6 array, with one hot spare, using the 500G drive as a system drive?
2. Is it possible to add a desktop to the Server version of Ubuntu?
3. Of the two above, which do you recommend?
4. Either way, will I be able to run this box headless, and administer it via web or some other remote means?
5. Can I set up e-mail alerting with that too?
That would answer all of my modest needs. I understand there might be other Linux distros out there who could also do this, but I've fiddled around a bit with Ubuntu and find it to be the most polished, easy-to-use and complete out there.
Yes you should use ubuntu server. it comes without a 'desktop'. You can install one simply by doing 'apt-get install xfce' (or whatever one you want). It will not run by default but you can just call it by doing calling 'startx'. Yes you can administer it by a number of ways (like ssh). Also yes you can do email 'alerting' via cron or whatever you want.
1. Absolutely, but you may have to install some software components first (at a minimum the mdraid package and then doing it the manly way, but you may want to also consider webmin (doesn't seem like it's in the default repos, so you'll have to add it as such) for easy array management)
2. Again, absolutely, it's as easy as
aptitude install DESKTOP-PACKAGE
//DESKTOP-PACKAGE can be (to name a few):
//ubuntu-desktop (default gnome)
3. Personally, I'd go with #2 with a lightweight GUI like fluxbox or XFCE
4. Absolutely, just make sure that a remove-access package is installed, some reasonable choices include ssh (package openssh-server) and tightvnc server (package tightvncserver) if you're going the server route since only the default [k]?ubuntu-desktop pakcages have built-in VNC servers under the guise of "remote desktop sharing")
5. Again, absoluttely, although your setup will dictate how you get there from here. If you plan on running your own MTA/email server, congrats! you're done! If you don't plan on running such a service (or your ISP blocks incoming POP3/SMTP), then you can use a simple MTA (for example, sSMTP) to act as a simple forwarding setup to another full MTA you have an account on (for example, sending mail to your gmail account). Now, you could just pop open all of the relevant config files and point them all to your gmail account, but sSMTP simplifies this.
In closing, a final though: I am not 100% sold that Ubuntu should be used as a server since it does tend to make some calls based on user interaction instead of stability, and as such I would push you (gently) to reconsider one of the BSDs (stellar reliability and security) or a distro like debian (less show, more go)
Just my 10 cents, but personally I would try to solve the FreeNAS errors first. Normally FreeBSD is considered to be more stable than Linux. It may be that your problem is symptomatic of a hardware error and that you will waste a lot of time to get the same results with Linux.
Or are you absolutely sure this is a software error?