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RAID on Rye

Lord Of The RAIDs - The Two Toasters

Dave Goeke: Both systems are fully-featured x86 computers. There is an SBC (single board computer) measuring about 6 by 8 inches inside. I have no idea who made the motherboards; they have no identifiers and do not POST any BIOS string.

The processor is a Cyrix MediaGX 200. There is a 32 MB notebook-style memory module, a so-called small outline DIMM (SO-DIMM). The motherboard has headers for UltraATA, simple video, Ethernet, keyboard, power, and a panel of activity LEDs. Cables for most ports run to the underside of the systems. The power supply is a PCB measuring about 2 by 3 inches with a single 5 V lead that powers the drives, the motherboard and a pair of small fans. One of them cools the CPU, the other sits above the drives. My older system has a pair of mirrored 8.6 GB UltraATA/66 drives, and the latest one has a pair of mirrored 20 GB UltraATA//66 drives.

THG: Can you give us some more details about the operating system?

Dave Goeke: The ApplianceWare OS runs file services (SMB, AFP, NFS), networking, DHCP, software RAID, sendmail for event notification, and a web server for access to the administrative tools. Linux software RAID allows configuration of RAID 5 with a hot spare (given enough drives), mirroring, or striping. A browser-based administrative tool allows users to configure, monitor, and manage the system; set and change RAID level, configure DHCP, manage security, create shares, and more.

THG: So it's pretty much a full-blown operating system, and as I can see these units are working pretty well. Could you show our readers how you physically managed to install the computer components into the toaster housing? I mean, you can't just go and buy any old toaster and expect it to have motherboard mounting holes or a 3.5" drive bay.

Dave Goeke: Who knows, maybe that is going to change if the right people read this article. :-) Toaster RAID is built by first gutting a toaster, then installing a few heavy rails to support hard drives. The motherboard is either installed on a rail or attached to a drive. The remaining components such as the power supply, switches, activity LEDs and interfaces are attached to the drives.