[blfs-dev] New page

Qrux qrux.qed at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 16:46:23 PST 2012

Nice page.

Just recently been dealing with a HW card that udev doesn't like (doesn't have SERIAL or SHORT_SERIAL), so I've been thinking about this a lot recently.

* * *

As for pros v cons...

I would think the main advantage to modern HW RAID systems is the ability to hot-plug.  SW RAID has many advantages, but being able to detect a failure, and then physically see, replace, and rebuild a degraded array while the array is alive has absolutely got to be the unequivocally primary benefit of a complete HW RAID setup.

SW RAID is great.  Generally faster (at least for RAID-0, back when I used to benchmark this sort of thing).  But, to be fair, while SW has the benefit of being open-sourced, it does suffer from version skew, too.  I have no idea if new kernel versions make old MD devices unrecognizable, or if everything is always backwards-compatible.  That's worth finding out & mentioning.  And, even if the kernel is currently backwards-compatible ATM, who's providing the guarantee that newer versions will also be?  Sure, it's open-sourced, but, realistically, most RAID users aren't going to be able to kernel-hack (driver-hack) in the event that the kernel eventually deprecates a version of the MD driver.  To me, that's just as bad a problem as not being able to find the same HW card.

It's also worth saying that in software RAID, you have to shut down the machine to do any repairs, even if the array is running in a degraded state.  Unless you have PCI- or SATA-hotplug in your kernel (is this widely supported or stable)...and even then, you'd have to be able to put those drives in a hot-plug bay.

Might also want to mention hot spares.

And...(again, still trying to be constructive, not a jerk)...a page about RAID absolutely has to have a recovery HOWTO.  It's just dangerous not to include it, lest someone get a machine running, and has no idea how to recover from it.  And, in addition to the "normal" recovery scenarios, point out how it might be worth using with udev (disk/by-id) long names lest they reorder devices (or the kernel does it on a version change).  I personally just went through this the hard way on a colo server...

Also, it's probably worth mentioning that most HW RAID setups (provided they have a Linux driver) make recovery much easier.  Just slide a new drive in, maybe issue a command or two, and the card's firmware will take care of the rebuild, all while the machine continues to run.  With mdadm, I think the whole recovery process is harder (or, more involved & dangerous to someone who might be new).

Finally, might want to combine the RAID and LVM pages.


On Feb 8, 2012, at 4:11 PM, Bruce Dubbs wrote:

> I've added mdadm and a new page, About RAID, to the book.
> I'd appreciate feedback on ways to improve it.
> http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/blfs/view/svn/postlfs/raid.html
>   -- Bruce
> -- 
> http://linuxfromscratch.org/mailman/listinfo/blfs-dev
> FAQ: http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/blfs/faq.html
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