Scaling Down The Noise

My last post about the NSLU2 was prompted by the fact that I’d started looking into an alternative method for handling all of my data storage needs.  I presently have a “media server” in my office that I use for storing all my important files as well as my music collection.  It’s got a RAID5 array, but that’s only good for a single drive failure.  After having several (fortunately consecutive, not parallel) drive failures, I set up a second system to use to backup the primary.  The second system has two 300GB IDE drives in a RAID1 configuration.

However, all of these systems are loud, produce a lot of heat, and take up a lot of space.  The media server has 8 fans and sounds like someone parked a 737 in my office.  The other system is better, but only slightly (it only has 4 or 5 fans).  But it’s inhabiting a corner of my living room, which makes it more annoying.  So I’ve decided to take a more simple approach. 

First, if I’m going to have a second system to backup the first, why use RAID on any of them?  It just seems to add more complexity and more components to fail (a design point that Boeing took for the 777 as their rationale for two big engines instead of four medium engines).  So I’ve decided to scale things down and replace the primary server with one that uses a single 500GB drive (the current 750GB array only has about 200GB used, so 500 should be more than sufficient).

I’m also going to move to a microATX form-factor and an all-in-one motherboard.  The new case (I’m thinking of naming the new system Minilith) will be about 2/3 of the size of the current server and should be a lot quieter, use less power, and generate less heat.  Interestingly, the cost of all the necessary components is 1/3 of the cost of the original server (which was mainly driven by the cost of all the hard drives; those drives were more expensive than the entire system I’m now building).

That leaves the backup system.  That second system is working fine, but I’d like to cut down on the noise and space usage there.  For storage backups, I’ve decided to use the NSLU2 and a 300GB USB drive that I’ve got laying around (put together from some parts that were on sale on Black Friday at Fry’s/  The only problem is that since I had the system, it was simple to add the scanner and modem to it when I was playing around earlier, so it’s doing more than just backing things up.

I’m sorely tempted to install Debian/NSLU2 on the slug to see if I can get it to perform all the functions of the current system.  It looks fairly promising, since I could connect a USB hub, then connect two USB-Serial converters and a USB audio device.  Icecast and ices are available in the Debian build, so all that remains to be seen is how well the the USB hardware would work with the Slug.

Just curious, but would this now be a RAIS (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Systems)?

1 Comment

  1. Rodney says:

    If I see “RAIS” everywhere in a few years, after all of us have a $100 laptop sitting by every chair, I will remember that you were the first to coin the term.