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Building SMB low power LINUX file and primary domain server

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November 13, 2012 12:21:06 AM

Hi ,

I need to build a file server and primary domain controller using LINUX BOX with the following requirements:

- Service around 50 people
- Linux manage windows domains
- Linux will serve all files/folders to windows users.
- All Windows users will use single sign-ON (to Linux box) and will have their profiles and HOME directories on the Linux BOX.
- Have Control on the Linux I can install and change

- RAID 1 or better
- Low power
- Reliable
- Small form factor
- HOT-swap disks
- Dual Gb ethernet.
- Remote management of the system.
- Small Business Grade: e.g. Enterprise grade system but Low Cost.

Please Help.
November 13, 2012 4:24:36 AM

Do you have a specific budget?
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November 13, 2012 5:06:03 AM

Ok, I'll take that as an "budget is whatever it needs to be" sort of silence (sorry if I seem impatient).

Can you be more specific about the needs? How much memory capacity, how much storage capacity, exactly what form factor are you looking to use, etc?
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November 13, 2012 6:11:07 AM

blazorthon said:
Ok, I'll take that as an "budget is whatever it needs to be" sort of silence (sorry if I seem impatient).

Can you be more specific about the needs? How much memory capacity, how much storage capacity, exactly what form factor are you looking to use, etc?

Sorry for the late reply

my budget can go up to 2000$ but if it is too low then i will put whatever it is needed

since the main purpose it to serve. disk space for window users and for application data storage it should have at least 2tb and. enough memory to server up to 50 users
also enough power to handle user credentials as domain controller and maybe ldap server dns server
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November 13, 2012 6:13:13 AM

Exactly what form factor chassis are you interested in? ATX mid-tower, Micro-ATX mid-tower, Micro-ATX slim, rack, etc? Just saying small is a little vague.
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November 13, 2012 7:17:12 AM

Well I went for ATX because it's the most convenient to work with. Here's a little start on the build, IDK exactly how well it applies to what you want since I'm not exactly sure of the requirements for your work (I'm probably overdoing it, but w/e):

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/nyjp

I could have thrown in a nearly identical Xeon CPU for another $5, but I didn't see the point. If you'd rather that I did, say so and I'll put it in.

I'm thinking that 32GB of DDR3-1866 10-11-10-(30?) is overkill, but there it is just in case I'm underestimating your workload(s).

This cooler was nearly free thanks to a combo deal with the CPU and it is far superior to the stock cooler, so I threw it in the build. $12 for a proper CPU cooler isn't bad at all.

I went for the highest reliability and quality motherboard found under $200 for this CPU in a Micro-ATX form factor. This ASRock Professional-M Z77 board seems to be it.

These four Caviar Red hard drives could be configured in a RAID 10 or 5 array. Caviar Red is Western Digital's NAS series of 5.4KRPM hard drives meant to run 24/7 for years on end and are among the most reliable drives that you can get despite their excellent pricing, although they're not nearly the fastest (hence I went for four 1TBs for RAID 10 or 5 instead of two 2TBs in RAID 1). A significantly faster and slightly more expensive alternative would be getting four Caviar Black 1TBs (Western Digital's higher-end enterprise SATA 7.2KRPM hard drives), but I didn't opt for it because those drives are known to get fairly loud and hot.

This very high quality and efficiency Seasonic PSU should do the job and then some for many years to come.

Last component is the case that has four hot-swap 3.5" bays for the hard drives.

I didn't put in an optical disk drive because I didn't know if it needed one. Same goes for any other components that were left out. It'd need a PCIe card for the second GbE port.
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November 13, 2012 2:13:19 PM

Thanks blazorthon
The system is starting to look good

Definitely dual ethernet.
Do I need ECC for ram?
I am thinking of adding a SSD drive just for the Linux OS. Is it a good idea?
Do you think I need a backup psu I need high availability system

Also i want to do remote monitoring using one of those interfaces ilo ... what do you suggest


Last Can we still do all this and have a low power solution


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November 13, 2012 3:54:29 PM

IDK for sure if you need ECC RAM. I don't think so, but with such a computer, maybe it'd be important. If so, then I'd probably also have to throw in a much more expensive motherboard.

This was the cheapest great-quality ECC 4x8GB kit that I could find and it's about twice as expensive as the kit currently in the build:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0080K692U/ref=d...
Not a horrible price honestly (slightly better price per GB than I paid for my 16GB of inferior desktop memory last year), but it's nothing in comparison to that of the desktop kit. If ECC is necessary, then that's definitely a sacrifice worth making since my build is currently only a little over half of the $2000 budget that you gave anyway.

SSDs are incredible boot drives. I'm not sure of how much it will help your system because I'm not sure of exactly how you'd go about your task with it such as what distro you'll use and what it's storage characteristics are, but any OS that isn't primarily in the RAM such as TinyCore Linux will probably benefit from having an SSD boot drive. However, SSDs have quite limited numbers of writes before their flash cells wear out and although this isn't a problem for most consumers, it might be for you if you write a lot of data to the SSD. Because of that, if you go for an SSD, you'd probably be better off with either an older model (NAND flash die shrinks that happen every year or two reduce cell endurance dramatically every generation, so old generations can be exponentially more enduring than most newer models) or an eMLC/SLC model.

That means that you'd be paying a lot of money for very little capacity because both options are extremely expensive. For example, even a slower, low capacity eMLC model such as the Intel 710 100GB goes for about $400.

However, if you're not writing a ton of data to the SSD, then you'd be fine with a much cheaper modern MLC model such has a Samsung 840 Pro. The 120GB model of it can be found several times cheaper than the Intel 710 100GB. As a boot drive, I wouldn't expect you to write a whole lot of data, but I don't know what your specific needs for the boot drive would be.

Honestly, I hadn't thought of a backup PSU. This one should be fine, but if you think that you should have a more redundant power supply setup, then I can look into that instead.

Yes, this is still an extremely low power build. The RAM doesn't use much power, SSDs use very little power, and the same is true for all of the components. Even the high-performance CPU and the hard drives aren't very power-hungry at all.
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November 13, 2012 4:32:49 PM

Many great thanks

SSD will only be used to install the linux boot OS and I will try to limit writing to it.
For the Linux Distro I am thinking clearOS, OpenSuse or Ubuntu server.


For the dual PSU, I probably will do better spending money on a reliable backup solution for disaster recovery.


How About remote monitoring with iLO/KVM ? any idea ?


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November 13, 2012 4:38:18 PM

Honestly, I don't know what that "iLO/KVM" acronym means.
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November 13, 2012 5:46:55 PM

I think the i7 is major overkill. It's a file server, right? i3 with fast drives should be fine.
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November 13, 2012 5:56:32 PM

Maybe it is overkill, I'm not sure. However, OP has stated that this computer would be more than a file server.
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November 13, 2012 6:16:01 PM

yes I want this to be a PDC and dns server
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!