Input on building a server

I am wanting to build a little server for my home. It's main use will be a file and print server. I've decided to make this a little hobby type project. What I've come up with, I'm not sure will work and would like some input on. I want to use Ubuntu 9.10 server (Linux) as my OS. I want to use two drives inside in a RAID array to prevent data loss. I've read that Linux will handle raid as the system I'm looking at doesn't do hardware RAID

I found this little barebones system on Newegg:
Foxconn R10-S4

It comes with 1X 3.5 internal bay, 1X 3.5 external bay, 1X 5.25 external bay, 2x SATA connectors, 1X PCI slot, integrated sound, video, NIC. One reviewer spoke of the 3.5 external bay as "an undersized external 3.5" bay for installing a usb card reader". Not sure if this bay will accommodate other things or not.

I'm still new to Linux and am still trying to wrap my head around how the file system works (and have never attempted anything with RAID before). I was thinking about adding a third hard drive to use for booting and keeping the system on while keeping the two other drives for just keeping the data I want on the network. The idea being that if I need to move this data to another system, I hope that means that I could just pull these drives out and put them in something else.

I guess one question to ask, is it necessary to keep a third drive separate just to have the Linux system on and separte from my data I want that will be on a RAID. If so, will I be able to add a third drive to this. Whether that be buying a PCI card with either an SATA or IDE interface on it to run the third drive which would have the system on it, or rigging some kind of a memory card reader device inside with say an SD card on it and the system on that. Will this system only boot on the two included SATA connectors it comes with? I've read where people have been able to put two drives in and install Linux from a thumb drive, so that tells me you can boot off the USB port anyway.

I'm hesitant to install my OS to a thumbdrive as I don't want it getting knocked off accidentally and more so, I believe there isn't much life expectancy with that much read/write on a thumbdrive.

I want this to be able to sit in a room and never need to be touched again for weeks on end.

Has anyone else had experience with this Foxconn box and if so what is your setup and how has it behaved?

Am I over analyzing all of this?

Thanks for your help

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  1. Now I'm looking into the hard drives. Been reading a lot about them and still not sure. It will be two identical SATA drives using RAID1 controlled by Linux.

    Can't really settle on a size/brand/model. I'm looking at 500GB to 1TB. Trying to figure out the $/MB ratios, but can't quite nail down the model and maker I want. There will be two identical drives. I know the WD greens are more power efficient, run cooler, etc. I'm guessing since they are cooler they will have more longevity. This will be good as the box will be small and will be turned on all the time. I've read that there might be issues with WD greens being used in RAID0, but does it matter with RAID1? The WD Blacks have a 5 yr warranty as opposed to 3 yr on the greens. Are they made better or have more longevity? The Blacks run hotter, and I don't know that I need that high end of drive for what I'm using it for. WD has left a bad taste in my mouth with a couple of previous hard drives that died on me. One was an internal drive after a couple of years and the other was one of those crappy MyLife external drives, didn't last two years. So I'm thinking about checking out Seagate, but not sure if they are any more reliable.

    System use: Storing files, trying to go paperless for the home (bills, bank statements, my work certs, documents, etc.) Keeping all of mine and my wife's music and photos all in one central place. Performance is not going to be a priority. Reliability and longevity are my concern. I'm hoping this will last for several years.


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