Subject: Re: small home file/backup server
To: Steve Bellovin <>
From: Tracy Di Marco White <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 08/21/2002 15:39:39
Steve Bellovin <> wrote:
}I'm going to be building a small (i.e., cheap) home file server.  The 
}primary use is for backup copies of a few Windows file systems, via a 
}switched 100BaseT network.  I have a 60G, 7200 rpm, ATA/133 drive lying 
}around; I'm contemplating buying another and setting up a RAID 
}environment.  But I've never built such a system before.

I built a home fileserver a couple years ago.  I bought SCSI, and
used RAIDframe RAID5 for redundancy.  Now I would use IDE for home
file servers.

}So -- should I use two drives, each on one of the two IDE channels on 
}the motherboard?  The CD drive would be very lightly used, except for 
}NetBSD installations and upgrades.  Buy an outboard IDE controller?
}(SCSI, apart from being unneeded, is well beyond my budget for this 
}project.)  Would I be better off with a small system disk, plus two 
}RAID drives for data?

I would use two drives on each of two IDE channels, the motherboard
controllers should be sufficient.  If the CD is new enough, it may
probe at the same speed as your hard drives, otherwise it will cause
your controller's detected speed to be stepped down, I believe.  (I'm
not actually sure about ATA/133 support, but I'm also of the opinion
that ATA/66 is faster than almost any single drive on a controller
can push.)

I have my entire system run from the RAID set.  Using RAID1, you
should be able to boot with no problems.  (I use RAID5, and put
an extra disk on that is only there to provide boot blocks and
a kernel.  For you to put an extra disk on would require another
controller or speedy enough drive to not slow down negotiated
speed, and even then you'd have two drives being used that are
on the same channel, which is often a slow down.)

}Which RAID should I use?  Is RAID1 sufficient, or should I use 4 or 5?  
}(The goal is reliability, not speed.)

RAID1 is sufficient with two drives.

}How much CPU do I need?  Would a 233 Mhz Pentium or a 350 Mhz P II 
}suffice?  (I'll almost certainly use one of the Intel NIC cards.)  And 
}any suggestions on motherboards?

It really depends on what you're doing.  My fileserver serves via
NFS & Samba, is our dhcp server, does nightly incrementals & weekly
full backups to tape (bzip'd on the fly).  I am doing RAID5, and
initially had everything on a K6-3+ 450.  This was on 1.5_ALPHA,
and seemed stable enough.  I have upgraded it since to an Athlon
800MHz, which is fairly well overkill for what it does.  My disk
configuration is 6 18GB SCSI disks using RAID5, and I did think
the additional CPU would be a good thing to help speed things up.
The machine started out as a ASUS P55T2P4, using the information
found on
for reference.  The current motherboard is a VIA chipset KT7-RAID.
It has 128MB of RAM, and has never swapped, and it has a netgear
card from when they used the actual digital chipset.

Hope this helps.