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How do I set up an intel RAID card in Ubuntu?

Posted on 2011-10-26
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This is just a basic sanity check because I've never actually done it before.

I'm putting together a server - basically it is just a high end consumer computer. Regular ASUS motherboard, intel i7 CPU, 8gb DDR3 non-ECC memory, etc. It's not anything crazy, and I'm trying to avoid the cost of buying an enterprise grade server - BUT I want it to have full *proper* RAID storage.

Here is my plan for setting up the RAID:

ASUS P8Z68-V LE motherboard
http://canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=26_722&item_id=040679

Intel (SRCSATAWB) 8 Ports SATA RAID Controller PCIe x4
http://canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=38_512&item_id=031327

     (+ whatever cables are necessary)

8x Western Digital RE4 500gb SATA hard drives:
http://canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=15_210_212&item_id=034942

I'll then plan to configure it into a RAID6 or RAID10 array.


So here are my questions:

1) How do I configure the RAID array prior to booting the OS?

Enterprise servers typically let you configure the RAID in the BIOS by hitting a key at some point in the boot process.... is it the same for my custom built server?

Does the motherboard somehow know to provide me with the option to enter the raid controller's configuration utility while it is POSTing? Or is there some other way I will need to configure it?


2) Will Ubuntu Server 11.04 Natty support this raid controller natively?

Once the RAID is configured I want to install Ubuntu Server 11.04 Natty.... will Ubuntu detect the logical disk on its own, or am I going to have a nightmare of a time getting the drivers working before I can even install Ubuntu? If I booted into an Ubuntu Live CD for repairs later will the Live CD detect the storage without a problem?


3) Is there a more compatible RAID controller card I should be considering instead?

If ubuntu won't support this card out of the box, what brand/model of 8-port SATA RAID controller do you recommend that will work out of the box? I've been looking at some LSI MegaRAID cards but haven't decided yet. Please make a recommendation!


4) What software do I need on Ubuntu to monitor and manage the RAID array?

How can I have Ubuntu be able to check the health of the drives, report and log drive errors etc? Is there built in software to handle this or is it proprietary to the vendor?

When a failure does happen, how will I know which physical disk needs replacing? Are there LEDs I can set up somehow to indicate the health of each disk like an enterprise grade server or do I need to set something else up?



Thank you for your insights!
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Question by:Frosty555
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xterm earned 2000 total points
ID: 37032510
>1) How do I configure the RAID array prior to booting the OS?

Yes, you will go into the RAID controller's BIOS to set up your array(s)

>Does the motherboard somehow know to provide me with the option to enter the raid controller's configuration >utility while it is POSTing? Or is there some other way I will need to configure it?

The motherboard will know.

> 2) Will Ubuntu Server 11.04 Natty support this raid controller natively?

It will see the device, but it's really pretty much irrelevant, because it only needs to see the arrays that you created.

> Once the RAID is configured I want to install Ubuntu Server 11.04 Natty.... will Ubuntu detect the logical disk on > its own, or am I going to have a nightmare of a time getting the drivers working before I can even install Ubuntu? > If I booted into an Ubuntu Live CD for repairs later will the Live CD detect the storage without a problem?

If you create arrays in the RAID BIOS, Ubuntu or pretty much any other OS will be see the arrays as regular drives - it will not know or care that they're arrays.


> 3) Is there a more compatible RAID controller card I should be considering instead?

You might check with the vendor to be sure, but it should work fine.  I find the LSI MegaRAID cards work great in Linux (installed in Dell servers as PERC xxx)


> 4) What software do I need on Ubuntu to monitor and manage the RAID array?

Dell provides OMSA (OpenManage) as a GUI web based management tool which can send traps, etc.  Modern distributions of Linux will capture syslog messages from the arrays such as the ones below from one of my systems:

Oct 10 14:34:53 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0: RAID STATUS CHANGE for PhysDisk 1 id=1
Oct 10 14:34:53 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0:   PhysDisk is now online, out of sync
Oct 10 14:34:53 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0: RAID STATUS CHANGE for VolumeID 0
Oct 10 14:34:53 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0:   volume is now degraded, enabled, resync in progress
Oct 10 15:06:02 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0: RAID STATUS CHANGE for PhysDisk 1 id=1
Oct 10 15:06:02 mx2 kernel: mptbase: ioc0:   PhysDisk is now online

> How can I have Ubuntu be able to check the health of the drives, report and log drive errors etc? Is there built in > software to handle this or is it proprietary to the vendor?

I believe the OS will see them and syslog them, but the vendor may have its own proprietary utilities that will enhance these abilities.

> When a failure does happen, how will I know which physical disk needs replacing? Are there LEDs I can set up > somehow to indicate the health of each disk like an enterprise grade server or do I need to set something else
> up?

The controller errors will give you a physical disk ID.  These should be in the order that you chain them.  My best suggestion do you would be to attach a disk, boot into the RAID controller, find where it sees it in the disk order, and then physically mark the disk.  Then add another one, etc. etc. until you know where all of them are in the chain.
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by:Frosty555
ID: 37051643
Hi xterm,

Thank you for the feedback - you've really helped a lot!

One question before I award points - is my motherboard capable of handling a raid controller on the PCI-E port? I have heard some consumer motherboards will not support a raid controller, only graphics.
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by:xterm
ID: 37054232
I've never heard that one before - it should work fine on the PCI-E port, but perhaps check with the vendor before buying just in case.
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by:Frosty555
ID: 37064628
It looks like in my case my motherboard has two PCI-E ports:

>>2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (blue @ x16 mode, black @ x4 mode)

The manual seems to suggest that the blue one is for a graphics card, and the black one is for any other device (It does specifically say it supports "PCI-E devices", not just "PCI-E graphics cards"). Although elsewhere in the manual it also suggests that the board supports ATI Quad-GPU CrossfireX technology.

I think this should be fine for this board. Thank you for your help!
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by:xterm
ID: 37064653
Cool, have fun and good luck with your new server!
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