Chaining LVM with software RAID for a scalable server

I recently procured and configured a new storage server and knew I wanted a scalable, redundant way of storing the large amount of data this server will hold. Despite what Steve Gibson has said about the so-called hardware RAID on modern motherboards it’s dangerous! It’s not really a hardware solution and requires that the same propriatary chipset be used to recover the data which is a dangerous thing to rely on when it’s your data you need back.

Sidebar: One of these days I’m going to get around to creating a blog or netcast devoted to correcting the misinformation on TWiT and SecurityNow (I understand that it’s difficult for them to stay on top of all this, but speculating on what you don’t understand in front of hundreds of thousands of people who worship the ground you walk on is a poor choice and seems to happen more often that I think is acceptable). They need a technical editor and fact-checker and since they apprently aren’t doing it in house someone else should.

Anyway, with modern processing power there’s little reason to use hardware RAID in a much other than a large corporate environment (or if you like spending a good sized chunk of money). I’ve had good luck with the Linux mdadm software RAID and have actually been impressed with how well it works. What I have not done is to utilize LVM (logical volume manager) to make it a more scalable solution where drive size can be increased or drives added down the road.

In preparation for this configuration I read a great howto on the topic which you can find on the JerryWeb Wiki. Things went quite smoothly and I’ve been very happy with the configuration so far which includes four SATA II drives (with working hot-swap capability in a drive cage) in a RAID 5 array. As soon as I get another AHCI SATA controller in I’m going to be adding another drive to the array so we’ll see how easy the LVM makes that!

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