So I got the new hardware parts, so I figured I might as well document the process. I’ve decided on the name Unicron because it’s the biggest PC I’ve ever owned. I’ve been waiting over a year to really rebuild my servers- since I ran out of ide connectors in Pablo, I knew something had to change.

The new case is MASSIVE- it’s sitting next to jackie’s machine and is a good 6″ longer and 3″ higher. processor went in easy, as did the ram. motherboard went in fine, and the harddrive rails (with rubber footies to prevent vibration noise ) made it a painless job of inserting drives and wiring them up.

The first problem I noticed right away- the Ars Technica review said it came with a power supply, but apparently I didn’t buy it from the same vendor, and hence ran into roadblock #1. I also noticed that, rather carelessly, I didn’t verify there was an onboard video card. Having only PCIe and PCI slots, none of my AGP cards would fit. After a bit of digging, I found an old 8mb Trident card from the late 90’s and popped it in. it won’t run a gui installer, but I don’t need it 🙂

The next real problem was that Ubuntu 6.10 doesn’t recognize sata hardware raid- it’s seeing all 4 drives individually. This is probably going to be the showstopper. I’m pretty sure that once installed, it’ll handle them fine, but it leads me to a chicken and egg scenario. I have a couple of possibilities:

1) I need to figure out which Linux raid driver this chipset uses and load it into the kernel, then re-detect the drives. This seems like the most obvious fix, but the real question is “why didn’t it already do this?” My fear is there is no Linux driver for the hardware raid.

2) throw an IDE drive in, install to it, then run the installer from the fully loaded Ubuntu install rather than the trimmed down install disk. the one flaw with this plan is there is only one IDE chain, meaning the cdrom and IDE HD have to play nicely during the install. So far they haven’t- booting of the install CD gives me errors about hdb not being ready, and then booted every so slowly to the first set of prompts. I had to head to work before I even got to the partitioning section.

I’ll hopefully get a chance to try more this weekend. Updates to follow.

UPDATE: the board is an ASUS M2N-E, so if you know how to get raid5 working in ubuntu, let me know.

UPDATE 20070331: you ever notice how when you look at something for months and it never changes, you forget the details? I noticed (after getting a full night’s sleep) that there WAS a wait to set up software raid in Ubuntu’s installer, I was just blind. So after talking to shaldannon and the trilug guys, I decided to go with the following partition scheme:

200meg (md0), raid 1 (sda1, sdb1)
1gig (md1), raid 1 (sda2, sdb2)
1.5Tb (md2), raid 5 (sda3, sdb3, sdc2, sdc2)
1gig (md3), raid 1 (sdc1, sdd1)

Once that was done, the installation was a breeze. Ubuntu is now installed and I’m slowly but surely re-implementing everything.