[linux-elitists] The desktop in your pocket

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Tue Jan 27 03:04:59 PST 2004

Quoting Eugen Leitl (eugen@leitl.org):

> I'm soon to need a 1U NAS box for backup at a host.  I'd like to use 3
> SATA Drives (server-grade disks) in a soft-RAID 3, and boot a minimal
> Linux from an EIDE flash dongle -- there's no place for more disks in
> an 1U enclosure.
> Since you're tracking SATA for Linux, are you aware of any minimal
> Linux distros which would fit a flash (256 MB? 512 MB?), and support
> SATA soft RAID out of the box?

SATA and soft RAID actually amounts to _two_ issues (block device support
vs. support for whatever form of RAID is on the drives).  The easy
answer to the RAID question is:  Blow away whatever proprietary crud is
present, and use the Linux md driver, instead.

As you're no doubt aware, the big issue with SATA block device support
is installation kernel version.  If the SATA chipset is one of the 3Ware
Escalade 850x or Adaptec AAR 24x0 series, or an LSI Logic MegaRAID, then
pretty much any 2.4.18 or so kernel will do OK.  


Intel ICH5:  You need 2.4.22+ or 2.6.x.  
VIA VT8237 South Bridge:  2.6.0 or libata-patched 2.4.x.
SiS 964 South Bridge:  hopeless.
HighPoint Rocket Raid HPT374, HPT372 chips:  2.4.21-pre5
The rest (Promise, Silicon Image, ServerWorks, Intel ICH6, Adaptec AAR 12x0):
   better have 2.6.0 or libata-patched 2.4.x.

I don't really know what small Linux distributions will boot from flash
media (other than Flonix), but here's a list of such:  "Small Linux" on 
http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Admin .

_Anyway_, you might be overdefining the problem.  There are other
installation options:

1.  Although the 1U might have no room inside for a second hard drive,
there's no reason you cannot dangle one outside on a long-ish ribbon
cable just long enough to complete installation.

2.  Many 1U boxes will support PXE boot (etc.), which you can use to do
network installation without an additional local hard drive.

3.  Or just disable SATA mode in the motherboard BIOS (switch to "legacy
ATA" mode) long enough to complete installation of the distribution of
choice, then fetch an SATA-capable kernel, then switch the BIOS back.

Cheers,     Founding member of the Hyphenation Society, a grassroots-based, 
Rick Moen   not-for-profit, locally-owned-and-operated, cooperatively-managed,
rick@linuxmafia.com     modern-American-English-usage-improvement association.

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list