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RAID on SuSE Linux 10.2

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 21:12:44 -0300 (CLST)

In retrospect, software RAID in Linux is easy.  If you're doing a clean
install there's nothing to it.  However, I couldn't (for a long time) find
anything that said this.  So I read explanations about RAID technology and
wondered how on earth I could boot from a software RAID - it seemed like a
chicken and egg situation unless you went with simple mirroring, which was

So I started by trying to install the OS on a separate PATA disk (the
P5LD2 has a single parallel IDE controller that is intended for CD/DVD). 
Luckily this failed (Grub crashed) and when I went to the SuSE IRC channel
some jerk knew enough to imply I was an idiot, but not enough to answer
any questions.

Still, it was useful to know I was wrong.  Searching some more I found
this page -
http://en.opensuse.org/How_to_install_SUSE_Linux_on_software_RAID -
(obvious in retrospect, but I turned it up only when I switched googling
from "suse" to "opensuse").  That was enough to make me realise I had
missed a "RAID button" on the installer interface.

In fact, I hadn't missed it - I just didn't realise how powerful it was.

So here's what I did - it uses just the 4 identical SATA disks I bought
and it gives you a system completely on RAID that makes efficient use of
disk space.  All the below is via the "expert" partitioning section of the
install (from scratch).

1 - Partition each disk the same.  I used the following scheme for all:
  sd?1:  100MB  (destined to be /boot)
  sd?2:    4GB  (destined to be swap)
  sd?3   290GB  (destined to be root)
(Incidentally, I don't quite see how 320GB drives end up being 290GB in

2 - Instead of formatting these partitions, mark them to be used as RAID
(in the create or edit dialogue, select "do not format" and then "RAID").

3 - Use the drop-down RAID button/menu to join these into three different
RAID devides:
  md0:   100MB RAID 1  /boot  (ext3, mirrored across all disks)
  md1:   3x4GB RAID 5  swap
  md2: 3x290GB RAID 5  /      (ext3)
Note that /boot is RAID 1, which means each disk is the same.  That lets
you bootstrap the system (RAID5 would be unreadable because it's striped).
 This is a waste of space, but it's very small so doesn't matter.  Next,
swap is RAID just so that the system doesn't crash if a disk dies (it
would be faster to have swap without RAID, distributed across all disks). 
Finally, I use a single partition for everything else.  You can, of
course, do something more complex.

Once you do this "everything just works".  The md0... devices "replace"
sda1..., sdb1.. and SuSE does all the right things.  The only difference
from normal is that when it boots you see lots of exciting messages as the
kernel puts everything together.

One final note - it seems that it's best to use SMART for disk monitoring
(or you may not realise when a disk dies).

For the record this was with SuSE 10.2, x86 64bit, and I finally
downloaded the CDs since it was faster overall than repeated experiments
with network install.

Summary: once you work up the courage (and use the RAID button/menu) this
is easy.


How about post-install

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 21:20:48 -0400 (CLT)

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
From:    "Fabian Wein" <fwein@...>
Date:    Thu, July 31, 2008 12:38 pm

How to convert an existing system to a RAID system when the
I get a new (identical) drive?



Re: How about post-install

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 21:23:36 -0400 (CLT)

gah!  i just messed up forwarding this to my blog - i will delete what is
there and the reply, but the simple answer is that i don't know.

i *guess* you might be able to make a system with one disk (ie create a
two disk raid in a broken state) and then copy your data to that.  after
that you could delete the existing data and use that old disk to extend
the array on the new disk.

but this sounds very risky to me.  given the price of disks, i would
suggest buying two, and then once you are sure they are working together,
copy across the data, delete and add the old disk in ("grow").

i am not sure i gave all details on the blog, but at one point i did lose
a system playing around.  i am not 100% confident in the dynamic
modification of the raid, and i am not an expert...

good luck,

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