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Building a Linux Media Server

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August 31, 2009 8:02:55 PM

Hello THF!

First time here, so be gentle.

I'm going to be building a Home Media Server to house music/movies etc. and was thinking of going the linux route (no problem with M$, but I want to build up some geek cred). I have an old single core Athlon 64 laying around along with a thermaltake shark to hold a bunch of hdd's.

I just have a few questions about the build first.

1) What type of controller card should I get? I plan on having about 10-14 hard drives in there and I don't know of any Mobo that has that many SATA ports.

2) Should I go Software or Hardware raid with this thing?

3) PSU. would this be good enough?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(from my old computer)

4)With that many hard drives, should I build one raid 5 array or two? I know I need raid 1 for the boot disk

Lastly (for now) 5) Would getting a couple hot swap bays be useful? I never needed to switch out hard drives on the fly b4, but I know that with raid comes the increased risk of drive failure. So, would housing five drives in a hot-swap be a smart thing to do or should I just get a regular enclosure?

Thanks and any suggestions on making linux into a powerful media server would be great!
August 31, 2009 8:21:50 PM

why do you need 10-14 HDD's, you realize the HDD's come in 1TB+ now right?

if you are thinking of doing some sort of Raid-5 (or 6) i would use hardware based raid like this
Adaptec 2252600-R PCI-Express x8 SATA / SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) 31205 SGL/256

though if using RAID-10 (preferred over RAID-0+1)
then getting a controller instead of raid card and doing software would be sufficient

as for psu, i would get something of better quality like:
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX
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September 29, 2009 9:36:03 PM

Is this server for home use? It's going to be a monster! :sol: 

Why RAID 1 for the OS disk? Surely you should just back up your config files and that's all. All your "user data" is going to be on the RAID 5/6/10 drives isn't it? Meaning 99.9% of what's on your OS drive came straight from the installation CD?

If you're venturing into the world of Linux then you might want to have a browse around this site: building a media server using linux. Should give you a kick-start to getting everything up and running.

I've never tried to run a rig with 10-14 drives but you might find a regular PSU struggles with the load on each rail. Worth double-checking the specs.

Good luck with the build :) 

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September 29, 2009 9:56:43 PM

digger21 said:
Is this server for home use? It's going to be a monster! :sol: 

Why RAID 1 for the OS disk? Surely you should just back up your config files and that's all. All your "user data" is going to be on the RAID 5/6/10 drives isn't it? Meaning 99.9% of what's on your OS drive came straight from the installation CD?

If you're venturing into the world of Linux then you might want to have a browse around this site: building a media server using linux. Should give you a kick-start to getting everything up and running.

I've never tried to run a rig with 10-14 drives but you might find a regular PSU struggles with the load on each rail. Worth double-checking the specs.

Good luck with the build :) 


Thanks! I've actually re-thought the 14 drives, still shooting at about ten (I'm going to be soaking up a lot of hi-def content so I'll need the room). I know that there's a kw psu that's spec'd out for I believe 25 drives (I could be off there, but I remember seeing it at a local computer store). I know that's a hell of a lot of juice, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I've done some research on the linux home server build, but I haven't gotten my feet wet yet. It's still a few months off for the project until I get all the parts in. Thanks for the advice and luck. I'll post an update as soon as I get this monstrosity built (with pics!)
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September 29, 2009 10:42:35 PM

Stavo said:
Thanks! I've actually re-thought the 14 drives, still shooting at about ten (I'm going to be soaking up a lot of hi-def content so I'll need the room). I know that there's a kw psu that's spec'd out for I believe 25 drives (I could be off there, but I remember seeing it at a local computer store). I know that's a hell of a lot of juice, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I've done some research on the linux home server build, but I haven't gotten my feet wet yet. It's still a few months off for the project until I get all the parts in. Thanks for the advice and luck. I'll post an update as soon as I get this monstrosity built (with pics!)


I remember reading a thread a while back where the guy had to put two PSUs in because of the load on each rail. The total amperage was the problem.
But it was a long time ago tho so my memory might be mixing things up. But thought I'd mention it nevertheless.

Have you ever thought about adding a DAS to your rig as your needs grow? That might make life simpler at the beginning.

Before I build my rig (using that guide I linked to ealier) I'd never even touched Linux before. Now I feel very comfortable with it. The thing that's great is it doesn't need rebooting every couple of days, nor does it need patching every 10 minutes, nor do I have to worry about anti-virus software.
Install it and forget it basically. ;) 

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September 29, 2009 11:07:14 PM

[b said:
The thing that's great is it doesn't need rebooting every couple of days, nor does it need patching every 10 minutes, nor do I have to worry about anti-virus software.
Install it and forget it basically. ;) ]The thing that's great is it doesn't need rebooting every couple of days, nor does it need patching every 10 minutes, nor do I have to worry about anti-virus software.
Install it and forget it basically.
;) 
[/b]

Exactly the reason I'm looking at it :) 

Are you recommending the DAS for my PC now or expandable storage towards the server?
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September 29, 2009 11:20:03 PM

Stavo said:
Exactly the reason I'm looking at it :) 

Are you recommending the DAS for my PC now or expandable storage towards the server?


It was for your server. I was thinking that perhaps you might like to consider starting off with something a little bit more modest than the monster you're planning on building. As your needs grow then you can add a DAS (or two) in the future. They'd be plenty quick enough for media streaming and it'd keep your initial build costs down.

Perhaps you've already got enough blu-rays to fill up 20TB of drives (assuming 2TB x 10 drives). I haven't.

It's not a recommendation, merely just another idea to throw into the mix ;) 
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September 29, 2009 11:49:30 PM

digger21 said:
It was for your server. I was thinking that perhaps you might like to consider starting off with something a little bit more modest than the monster you're planning on building. As your needs grow then you can add a DAS (or two) in the future. They'd be plenty quick enough for media streaming and it'd keep your initial build costs down.

Perhaps you've already got enough blu-rays to fill up 20TB of drives (assuming 2TB x 10 drives). I haven't.

It's not a recommendation, merely just another idea to throw into the mix ;) 



It's worth considering. I have quite a bit of BD content and TV seasons that need to be shoved somewhere and my case only permits so much room. As I was still a ways away from the actual build itself, this (like you said) give me another idea to look at.

I was also doing a bit of reading on WHS. As much as I don't want to fork more money to M$ it seems like they got one right. Between that, linux, and the DAS I got plenty to wrap my mind around before I throw money at something.

Thanks
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a c 127 G Storage
September 30, 2009 12:02:49 AM

You may want to checkout FreeNAS because its great for quickly setting up a fileserver over the network, but it cannot be used as desktop; server only. All configuration is done via a web-interface.

You can install FreeNAS to a USB stick so its very easy and you don't need any RAID because flash storage is very safe and all RAID configuration on your data drives is kept on the disks themselves so you don't really need the data on the "system disk" to recover the data on the "data disks" which you want to connect using RAID.
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