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FreeBSD Linux RAID

Unhappy Fun with FreeBSD RAID

About one month ago I bought a second-hand PC from a charity with hopes to use it as a RAID server for my and my wife’s businesses. It was a older Celeron 800Mhz with 256M RAM, a 11Gig HD and a CDRW. Perfect! I thought.

I went out and bought two 320Gig SATA HD, a SATA PCI controller and 512MB DIMM. You would not believe what PC-133 memory costs these days!

Then the fun began. I started installing FreeBSD 7.0 which took a lot longer than what I had thought. The install is not as friendly as the new Linux distros I’ve used in the past. After two days I had got FreeBSD installed and then went on to setup the RAID 1.

This went pretty easy with gmirror. I was very impressed. And it worked, for a while. Then one day while I was copying a 1.8Gig zip file on to it from my Windows machine, one of the drives disconnected. So I had to restore the mirror, reboot the machine and then wait as it took 4hrs. to rebuild the mirror.

The next day I then had to use the zip file and extract it to my CentOS box to install Oracle. The same thing happened. This time I backed up all the files on the mirror and re-labelled and newfs’d the disks and made sure Soft-Updates is off. I then tested it by copying the zip file to another directory on the mirror. The drive failed again! This was getting ridiculous now.

I asked around on the forums and someone suggested the 235W PSU wasn’t big enough. I replaced it with a 380W PSU and tested again. Same result.

I’m not sure what’s going on here. I don’t know if its the drives, the way I’ve labelled them. The SATA card, it is a SiL 3512-based generic card. Or a bug in BSD, maybe my CPU isn’t powerful enough! Though I find that last thought hard to believe.

I’ve submited a problem report. In the meantime I’m not using gmirror and have to do with a single hard-drive with a cron job to copy the contents to the other hard-drive at night – as part of the periodic maintenence scripts. I’m also contemplating moving to a Debian or SUSE distro is stable with my hardware.

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