Home server

As I’ve mentioned before, I run a home server here. It has three main roles:

1) Redundant media store for music, video, and photos

2) Web server for Diane’s website development

3) Media sharing (playback) on the lounge TV

I’ve decided to go with a Linux solution, partially because I’m familiar with the OS professionally, partially because it is free, but mainly because I believe it is the way forward. As such I thought I’d document the process here.

This is the third time I’ve built this server in six weeks. That’s a pretty bad statistic, but I lay the blame firmly at the door of the HDDs I chose. I want as much redundant storage as I can get, and my chassis had room for 4 SATA drives. I found 4 1TB drives on eBuyer at a reasonable price, which at RAID5 gives me 2.7TB of storage where I can afford to lose any one drive at a time. This sounded great, but sadly a drive had bad blocks. So I replaced it. I then tested the replacement, and found that was bad too. This was still fine, but at that point I chose to test the other three drives and sadly one of those was wrong. The problem I then had was that the system marked two out of four drives as bad, and decided that as such it couldn’t continue.

I then rebuilt into a test configuration and finally (I hope!), I’m rebuilding it tonight on four discs that have checked out okay. There’s a difference with this install though. Thanks to Stuart Wallace, who has provided me with both the idea and the IDE to CF converter, the machines six drives are:

IDE 1: DVD rewriter
IDE 2: 4GB compact flash card

The CF card is a master stroke because I’ve carved it up into a 200MB /boot partition, and the rest is the machine’s swap space. Hopefully the machine should never need swap space as it has 4GB of RAM (although due to the hardware being a bit elderly it only sees 3.6GB). The great thing is that the machine can boot on the CF card, it should rarely need to write to it and so should not wear it out, plus I’ve got a spare CF card that I’ll back up to, so if the main one ever fails I can just swap them over and get going again. This may all sound unnecessary, but if you’ve ever had a knackered boot partition before you’ll see the value!

Let’s have a picture break. Here’s the machine with the spare CF card. As you can see, I’ve just finished installing FC10 (64 bit) and am now recovering my data from my external USB drive and my old server.

Boot partition

So while copying files across the LAN, and from the USB drive, building the RAID and doing a vast yum update, the machine gets a bit sweaty.


Annoyingly it has proved me wrong by swapping already, but hopefully this will rarely be the case! I’ve removed host and username information as a security precaution BTW. Good to see plenty of disc space available.


I’ve got a lot of work left to go before I get any real use from this server, but it’s good to know that matters are underway. Keeps the 40″ TV entertained anyway.


Finally, on another note we’ve got the 106R’s spare wheels boxed up ready for shipping. Doesn’t our living room look lovely!


3 comments so far

  1. Brenden on February 10th, 2009 00:45

    Nice work, can’t wait for the finished product write-up.

    Now if only you were running hot-swap hardware RAID. =)


  2. Paul Stewart on February 13th, 2009 20:01

    Get all this stuff sorted then you can come for a weekend in dorset and sort me out a network of some description.

  3. Jesse on February 25th, 2009 10:09

    http://xbmc.org/home/ Install this on it!

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