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Suggestions for new hard drive partitions


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Hi all. My ol' faithful has finally driven me up the wall and is due to be replaced. I think the mother board has died..Anyways time for a new system. YAY!!!! :)


Its main purpose is to store many pictures, college reports, browsing and printing. I am considering an acer aspire one for everyday workhorse around the house.


Unfortunately at this point in time I still rely on windows to a certain extent so will have to dual boot still.


Data protection (espcially the photos) is critical. I do perform back ups to an external drive from time to time.


I haven't started to look at which bits I'll use yet. I could consider RAID1 (am I correct that raid one uses two drives to house 2 copies of everything??? Is this available on normal everyday motherboards??)


I am thinking of having a separate data partition, which windows and mandy can both access. Am I better off using FAT32, or is mandy safe with NTFS??? I have a copy of 2008.1, I've been using 2008 though, as something broke in my 2008.1 install :(


Given the system I have been using is 5 years old I'm open to any suggestions of ideas I may have missed. I know I want things like wireless and a memory card reader.



[moved from Installing Mandriva by spinynorman]

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For Raid 1, yes you need two drives, and I've done this before. Here's my howto I wrote ages ago:




that will help you get up and running. You can install on standard partitions and then convert later, I also have a howto for that but if you're going to start afresh, best do it from the beginning. Theoretically, you could just set up standard partitions and then use rsync to copy from one partition to another but it's difficult to automate it correctly as you'd have to leave your system on. Raid 1 will take care of it as soon as a file is written to disk, so I only do it this way. If the motherboard doesn't have it, then just use Software Raid in Mandriva like my howto. Remember, that even if it's in the motherboard BIOS, it's software raid anyway. For me, I'd always do it through Linux, because I can then move the disks to another system later, and rebuild the array with no problems. I'm not dependent then on the board going with the disks, or even the fact that if something goes wrong with the motherboard - that I lost all my data. Linux Software raid gives you these advantages, as you're not dependent on the hardware other than the disks working correctly.


Also note, you could use any distro to even gain access to the two disks later. I've done it :) you just need the mdadm package on any Linux system and you're sorted.


For Windows, just use NTFS, Linux can happily use it and write to it now. FAT32 is bad for defragmentation, and is no good over 30GB. Perhaps even consider using ext2ifs and if you set up a shared partition with ext2 or even ext3 format in Linux, you can access it under Windows using the ext2ifs driver. Just google it and have a read. The only thing is, if you have a shared ext3 partition, it has to have been safely unmounted at shutdown, else Windows won't be able to mount it because Windows mounts it as ext2 which is the same as ext3 just without the journaling. This is how I use my systems now, and if I need to share with Windows, I do it this way and not with FAT32/NTFS.


Bacula is a nice backup program I came across recently. There's even Windows clients for it, as I intend to use it to back up all my Linux machines, as well as Windows machines to a Linux backup server running Bacula. I'll store it on that servers disks via backup across network. It's free, and available in Mandriva too. And good, cos you don't need to backup to tape drive.


Also consider mondo rescue if you want to make CD/DVD media to restore your system quickly. There's also other backup utilities for Linux also, like amanda, but never used it yet. Haven't used bacula either, but going to :)

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Thanks IanW.

Is raid1 over the top for a home system, when I do regular backups? I guess for the price of an extra hard drive its good value, and piece of mind.


I've done a bit of reseach on raid1, but still a bit unsure. If there is a fault on one of the drives, does raid1 pick this up automatically, or do you have to manual force a check?


With my data, I intend to link the windows my docs to the shared data partition and do the same from linux. I'm still undecided on what file system to use...Bit more thought needed.

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I use Raid 1 at home :) because I don't do any other backups.


If the raid has a problem, then the disk will drop out of the array. If you have sendmail/postfix or some other email server running on your machine whereby the email can be passed to your inbox, then you would get notification of it. Otherwise, you'd have to check /proc/mdstat and make sure that both disks were a part of the array.


If not, then you'll have to check the disk and see if there's any problems, or attempt to add it back into the array again and see if it works. Usually though, if the disk is faulty, you'll hear it because they get noisy when they are about to fail as the heads crash into the platter.

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What happens if a sector turns bad? does that drop the disk out of the array? and is it able to be added back?


Sorry if I'm annoying, but I've had 3 hard drive failures before (one total, one boot sector failure, and my xbox lol). Now I've got all my studies, personal information, financial and photos, I can't have that again. I'm not sure what you mean about the email server business, I have to read more about that, so at the moment I guess i dont ;) .


Thanks Ian, I really appreciate it

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I couldn't say, as I've not had it happen yet so I don't know what the end result would be.


If you don't have anything able to send you the email from the system, you won't know if the disk is about to fail, the same is with using smartmontools to monitor the disks - no email notification but log files will show the errors.

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My experience with Hardware RAID 1 on Windows XP is that if a disk fails - it is dropped out. The INTEL Application Accelerator or INTEL Matrix Storage Manager shows an icon in the notification area letting you know something is amiss, but the computer is still fully functional. If you replace the failed disk, the new disk must be at least as large as the previous disk. However if you replace say a 100GB disk with a 200GB disk, only 100GB is available when you mirror the disks. The other 100GB is cannot be seen by the OS.


I do not have a lot of experience with this, and I ended up replacing the (failed) motherboard that supported hardware RAID, so I have not used it in several years. [i thought the replacement motherboard had the INTEL chip that supported hardware RAID, but I was mistaken.]

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Thanks guys for your replies.


This is my understanding so far:

Seeing as though I'm going to be dual booting (ie windows partitions and linux) I really want to have hard ware raid, that way everything will be fine. Let the hardware take care of the array, with out relying on the OS.


How well are add on controller cards supported by linux???? A lot of cards say they support linux, but I presume I'll need drivers, Or am I confusing myself and the controller cards run independant of the os??? I preferably want motherboard integrated raid, but keeping my options open.

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Yes, you'll need hardware raid if you want Windows to take advantage of it. Else, you'll only have software raid for Linux and no raid for Windows.


The fakeraid controllers which say they do Raid 1, Raid0, Raid 10 are just software raid and are cheap and not so expensive. Proper hardware raid controllers will set you back a bit and tend to have Raid 5 on them as well. You have to check the chipsets to make sure you are supported natively by the kernel. I have an Adaptec 1430SA SATA 2 and it's only supported under Red Hat and SUSE. I cannot get it to work under any other system as their's no kernel module supplied so that I can compile and make a kernel myself. The server I have with Gentoo on it has an Fusion-MPT SAS/SATA chipset, and this is supported natively in the kernel without having to manually compile your kernel on most distros (Gentoo you have to but that's Gentoo ;) ).

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Either that or a PCI-X or PCI Express card to fit the motherboard. My new asus board is crap for attaching the sata disks as it's slow - don't know if it's my board or general thing, so I use the adaptec as a standard disk controller and software raid in Linux :D

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Looking around it seems almost any motherboard worth having has hardware raid built in. So I intend to do the following.


Raid 1...ie. mirror two disks together for data protection

obviously have a boot sector/partition

A XP partition

A data patition, this will be mounted as /home in linux, linked to in my docs in XP, probably NTFS....second thoughts ext3

A swap partition

A linux install partition


Whats the rule with swap patition these days. thinking back it used to be twice the physical ram, is this still the case.


Any one have an opinion on those hard drive partitions?

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Nope, please do not confuse what is on a motherboard with hardware raid. It is not hardware raid. It's more or less classed as fakeraid and basically software raid.


Swap depends on how much memory you've got, and also what you're doing with your machine. But generally, for a desktop 512MB or 1GB of swap is enough.

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I am not a technical expert but I am not sure what you say is totally correct about Raid on Motherboards.


The earlier Asus A7V-600-x I had, had on board Raid that could be truly described as hardware raid because the entire Raid setup was done solely within the Bios settimg mode, namely BEFORE booting up, with the result that the OS just installed as per normal with NO adding of drivers and so on because it just saw the Raid as a single Hard drive, therefore no complications. Purely technically it may still be software Raid but I think that would be hair splitting and only confusing the issue. To argue a point about fakeraid doesn't help anyone.

When using Windows years ago I started with Promise Raid cards and used them for years, they were excellent and expensive. I learned a lot about raid in those days, even having to install drivers during the Windows install process before you could hope to successfully install the Windows OS. Then eventually the newer Promise Raid cards advanced that it was no longer necessary to install drivers during the OS installation. When I started using Linux the Raid aspect was a complete mess that I gave up using Raid until I started using the ASUS board I have mentioned and its predecessor. And never had a setup problem since until the present Gygabyte Board.

In a Raid1 setup if a drive failed then you replaced it and re-entered the Bios Raid setup and had it mirror from the still operable Hard drive and when it completed you continued the boot up routine as per normal. No dramas and couldn't be any easier. The same cannot be said for software Raid.

By the way, My drives were SATA on both Mainboards, and there was nothing slow about them in normal use in Raid1 mode using the ASUS board.. Replacing a drive and subsequent mirroring took a while but once done that was the end of it.


The present board that I have is a Gygabyte MA790X-D94 and while it claims to have Raid capability, it really is a con because it requires a floppy (or CD) insertion of the Windows driver first before installing the OS. The same applys with Linux. So yes this Mainboard Raid is software raid. In fact I have emailed Gygabyte on this matter and made it perfectly clear that had I known this point, I would never have bought their product not withstanding the excellent quality, long Warranty and reliability of their product.


So Xboxboy, I suggest you look for a Mainboard that has Raid along the lines of the Asus one and avoid the ones of the Gygabyte type. It means not making assumptions that all claimed Mainboard Raids are equal. That is how I got caught. I am led to believe that a lot of the Mainboard brands have the Ausis style of Raid so check them carefully first.

The most important reason being that the ASUS type are not favouring of any OS whereas the Gygabyte favours the Windows OSs with supplied drivers, even though Linux can be installed with some effort using Linux Raid applications.


Machines with excess of 512Mbs do NOT need anymore than 1Gb of Swap, regardless. In fact there is hardly any need for more than the 512Mb.


Cheers all. John.

Edited by AussieJohn
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