I'm in the process of consolidating a lot of computer hardware (selling off another notebook soon) and want to add a lot more disk space to my home "server" so I'll have space to dump all the files. The machine has lots of room in the case, but it's a couple years old so there's no on-board SATA.

My plan is to drop in 3 250GB SATA disks and use Linux software RAID-5 to give me close to 500GB of space. Can anyone recommend a good SATA PCI card I can use for this? It's gotta have drivers in the standard Linux 2.4 or 2.6 kernel. Life's too short to track down weird drivers.

And I don't need one with so-called hardware RAID.

Update: After a bit of looking harder and discussion with someone, it seems that the Promise Sata150 TX4 is just what the doctor ordered. It's got 4 ports and good Linux support (2.4 and 2.6).

Posted by jzawodn at September 20, 2004 08:27 PM

Reader Comments
# Scott Johnson said:

If that card is truly a good solution, it's a bargain. Let us know how it goes once you get it setup.

on September 20, 2004 09:45 PM
# Tom Sommer said:

Promise Sata150 TX4 is a weak card, good for personal use - but for anything production related you should pick a better controller, one which has an onboard CPU and does true RAID, by storing RAID data on the controller and not on the drives.

I have a Promise Sata150 TX4 at home, never had any problems - but I know of lots who have.
What kind of disks (brand) are you planning to use?

Also note that SATA drives generates large amounts of heat, so you need to get some airflow going.

on September 20, 2004 11:19 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yes, this *is* for personal use. And, like I said, I'm letting Linux handle the RAID. The server has so much CPU power to spare, it's not even funny.

As for airflow, yeah, this is a server case with ample fans to keep things cool.

on September 20, 2004 11:21 PM
# NM said:

Don't use the cheap Promise cards, the drivers still have a bug in the latest kernel.

The Silicon Images (SiL3112) seems to be working ok now. It's probably the cheapest. You can find such cards for 15.

on September 20, 2004 11:57 PM
# Nick Wang said:

I was going to do something similar, but I wanted a controller to hook up to an external case. Are u considering drives & controllers that support NCQ? I don't think TX4 supports that, does it?

on September 21, 2004 09:09 AM
# Kyle Brantley said:

I've got a Promise S150 TX4 running Gentoo at home for my main computer. It's running dual WDC Raptors (the 36.7GB edition), in software RAID.

As far as NM's comment, I'd assume that he means the unresolved symbols error that you get when you use the binary drivers provided by promise. This is avoided by:

A) Using Promise's source drivers
B) In a 2.6 kernel, using the promise driver that comes with the kenerl.

If that's not it, then it's a bug I've yet to encounter... I love my Promise card, for quality, performance, and price. Highly recommended.

on September 21, 2004 09:48 AM
# leif said:

I've done something similar to this before, and even though it has worked out ok, if I had a chance to do it again, I'd go a slightly different route. RAID 5 blows, particularly in software, performance is terrible, and recovery can be a pain (but newer versions of the OS modules and raidtools are much better).

Next time I rebuild my home storage server, I'll go for RAID 1+0. Get 2 (or 4) 400GB drives, and mirror everything (mirror the stripes if you get 4 drives). Much easier setup, much, much faster, and not a whole lot more expensive.

on September 21, 2004 10:39 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Leif:

Good points. I shoud have noted that this is mainly archival. Perforamnce is not a requirement *at all*.

Jeremy

on September 21, 2004 10:59 AM
# BMG said:

If you are looking for raid data storage you could build a ReByte server. They are Linux based and are easy to configure. Http interface and can be securely accessed from anywhere with a web browser. Oh, the actual Linux install is on a bootable CF card.

Yes they are not serial but IDE is so cheap and gives great performance in a home office environment.


Take a look http://www.rebyte.com/

on September 21, 2004 02:22 PM
# Pavel said:

Nick Wang: NCQ is implemented on disk itself and has nothing with controller. So any SATA controller will support NCQ.

And what about 3ware [http://www.3ware.com/]? I think it has much better support in kernel than Promise.
Don't use VIA VT8377. I have one but I didn't make it to use DMA under Linux (PATA is recognized as DMA but SATA not).

on September 22, 2004 01:29 AM
# Tom Beek said:

RAID 5 is only good if you have to have the data online 24/7. You can do other RAID schemes, like RAID 2 with striping and get a much faster data access configuration. If you have one drive go bad, you could recreate on the fly; more than that would require back up from tape. You save wear and tear on your drives and controllers, and have a faster server.

on September 23, 2004 02:32 PM
# George Mitchell said:

LinuxMafia has a very helpful guide to sata modules (drivers) http://www.linuxmafia.com/faq/Hardware/sata.html . I am currently running two 80GB Seagate 7200RPM NCQ capable drives externally in CoolMax enclosures. The controller is el cheapo Ligure with Silicon Image chipset. Real inexpensive setup! Currently I have all critical file systems up on Linux software RAID (Mandrake 10), except root. Everything else is a breeze to set up but root takes a little doing. I think my problem is probably because I have /boot on a seperate partition. I hear you can't do that with software RAID on Linux. I am planning to set up another system and will attempt to implement hardware RAID with the Ligure card and compare notes between the two systems. Lots of fun!

on September 25, 2004 08:28 PM
# alfredo said:

information sata hard disk

on September 30, 2004 01:39 PM
# Asgeir S. Nilsen said:

Leif:

"RAID 5 blows" ? Modern computer CPUs seldom have very much work to do. Most of the Linux boxes I've seen, linger around <20% CPU usage.

My AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2000+ (not very fast by today's standards) manages this for the RAID5 checksumming:

8regs : 2544.400 MB/sec
32regs : 1680.800 MB/sec
pIII_sse : 1399.600 MB/sec
pII_mmx : 3904.800 MB/sec
p5_mmx : 5008.400 MB/sec
raid5: using function: pIII_sse (1399.600 MB/sec)

That's 1.4 GB per SECOND. If you have disk arrays which handle that throughput at even BURST rates, you have a hardware budget that is significantly larger than mine...

Using the SATA controller as JBOD and using Linux' md driver gives you the advantage of replacing disks, motherbords, or controllers, without having to recreate your array.

on October 1, 2004 06:02 AM
# Richard Foulk said:

In my opinion, software RAID is a bad idea. Especially considering the low cost of RAID controllers these days (`hardware RAID'). When your server melts down you don't want it to be doing anything fancier with disk bits than is absolutely necessary.

RAID 5 is messy and unnecessary. It gains you a small some additional space at the expense of a whole lot more complexity. Drive space is dirt cheap, gain the simplicity from mirroring -- you'll be glad you did.

Someone that declares he doesn't need any more performance is being silly. Especially in regards to 500 gigs of disk on a PC! Raw IDE drives on PCs have truely abysmal performace once your storage gets up into the tens or hundreds of gigs.
Just try writing a one-gigabyte file of zeros ... takes for ever and totally bogs the machine down. (Including the fastest one made today.)

Now what happens if you want to do a little house-cleaning on your 500 gig machine if it bogs down just writing one gig? :-( Could take weeks!

Richard

on December 2, 2004 11:46 PM
# aneez said:

hai,,
i am not able to install linux 9 in sata HDD with AMD 3000+ in HP machines.plz give me a solution for that.
aneez

on July 28, 2005 09:17 PM
# madhu said:

sir,
I have a Seagate 160 Gb SATA hard disk
amd 64bit-2800+
motherboard asus k8s-mx
512 mb ram
Windows XP (Service Pack2 ) detects it as ST3120827AS

I was trying to load FedoraCore 3 and it did not detect the hard disk
saying that you need to manually choose a driver for it.
It gives me the option of inserting a driver disk but i did not
get any for the hard disk.

please help me to instal fc3.

on September 7, 2005 10:16 AM
# Ed Cooley said:

Here is what I have: 64bit AMD, 4x300gig SATA harddrives.
Promise FastTrak S150 SX4-M raid controller, with 64meg ECC Cache memory. The board claims to be able to do Raid 5, which is what I want. However, Linux 2.6 installation (Suse 9.3+) claims that I WILL lose data if I attempt to use the promise "software" raid board. I have been completely unable to use the board at all so far, so I hope to be able to return it. I'm going to keep trying; Promise requires that you use IE to use their "support request" site - and us linux vi users occasionally hit escape... which clears out the entire @#$% form. Needless to say, I hate IE, I hate Promise.com's website, and I'm beginning to really hate their board. I spent around $230 on the board - and I'm hoping I can find some Microsoft bigot who wants it... and I need to buy a *REAL* hardware raid board.

Suggestions folks? I don't have a lot of funds, I've sunk all the so-called "spare" funds I have into this one, only to have it not work. I'd really like a *hardware* raid 5 board, with ECC Cache, that *will* work with linux Kernel 2.6 or better.

Thanks for your help -
Best Regards -

on January 12, 2006 10:15 PM
# fil said:

Pavel - this is absolutely not true! Not only the hard disk must support NCQ, but the controller too!

on May 10, 2006 03:34 AM
# anand said:

hi,
my name is anand, i have D101GGc mother board with 80GB SATA HardDisk, i am facing trouble while installing Enterprise Linux 4
trouble is: my hard disk has no disk drives to install
what should i do please help me?

on August 31, 2006 10:45 AM
# babu said:

hello sir,
i am getting trouble while installing red hat enterprise linux 4 into my SATA Hard disk through my D101GGC motherboard. so what i did is, while installing linux, i included this option "linux all-generic-ide noapic nolapic" in linux installation. Now installation got succeeded... some errors apearing.. the errors are
"mounting ext3 failed
mounting none failed
switchroot failed"
please help me to releave from this situation
please help me

on August 31, 2006 11:19 AM
# said:

how can i attach another sata hard disk on my pc which already have a sata hard disk

on March 9, 2007 03:27 AM
# rakesh said:

am not able to install linux 9 in sata HDD with intel 945 mother board plz give me a solution for that.

on April 20, 2007 04:22 AM
# Senthil said:

Hi

I am facing some trouble while installing red hat enterprise linux 3 into my SATA Hard disk through my intel 945 motherboard. Kindly help me out in resolving the same.

Thanks

on June 5, 2007 11:45 PM
# naufal said:

hi,
i am trying to install xp in my 80 gb sata hdd i already have vista.but when i am trying to install xp its not detecting the hdd..do i need to install the uli raid drivers
once again.can u send me a link where i can download the uli2.0 sata drivers.

on July 8, 2007 01:27 AM
# Henrik said:

Doesnt anyone consider the system straight through anymore?

If you (like me) still use 100MBIT switches,
you wont get more than 12.5 (100 / 8) megabytes per second anyways.
So having a megafast raid controller in that case would be.. plain stupid.
Unless your server is on Gigabit Ethrnet (125 Megabytes per second) you wont notice the overhead _at_ _all_.

So I would advise to go for cheap raid and a full-on GigE network setup instead.
Unless you generate data dynamicly on the server (Large databases and such) spending lots and lots of $$ on hardware you can barely use 10% of, is just stupid.

Unless having >10 simultaneous connections (Wich you likely wont, according to the usage you describe) you are better off going the "cheap" route with software RAID.

Just my 100 cent's.

on November 24, 2007 03:57 AM
# suresh said:

I was trying to load FedoraCore 3 and it did not detect the hard disk
saying that you need to manually choose a driver for it.
It gives me the option of inserting a driver disk but i did not
get any for the hard disk.

please help me to instal
give me the setps what i do.....

on July 16, 2008 02:24 AM
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