Linux across 3 Hard Drives



I'm still doing this internship thing at a PC Shop and the owner let me pick over the pile of old hardware. I lugged home this big old tall Tower that I think was possibly a small business server from the early 2000s.

"dmesg | grep intel" says I have a 440gx Motherboard

"cat /proc/cpuinfo" says I have two 500 Mhz CPUs

After going through some old RAM chips I'm now running 1 GB which is probably the max for this motherboard.

Anyway, I'm using this big tower to learn hardware better and explore ways that Linux can be setup. So far, I have one DVD drive and 3 Hard Drives installed after reading up on the Master / Slave jumpers.

I decided to try installing Debian Wheezy and did my Partitions manually across 3 drives. I gave / it's own 14 GB drive and /home it's own 13 GB drive. I split the 3rd drive giving most of it to /var and some for swap space.

To confirm this setup, I tried rebooting with my /home drive unplugged. GRUB still tried to boot, but threw an error with the option to continue. At the main screen, my main user name login failed, but I could login as Root. Next, I tried booting with my drive containing /var and my SwapSpace unplugged Debian failed to boot. With all 3 hard drives plugged in, Debian boots fine.

So the point of this exercise is to see if Linux can live on multiple-storage devices and maybe gain performance while doing so. This way one Hard Drive doesn't need to do everything. I'm curious if anyone else has dabbled in this or if there are even better ways to optimize this kind of setup.

For now, the end result isn't to shabby and I even slapped in an old ATI Video card. I'm wondering if I could roll with some good retro-gaming on this thing.

ID'ing the drive with jumpers - And along came hotplug and storage arrays and life became easy.

For performance I'd load it up like a old Novell server w/swap at end of each drive and run Lvm across all drives so you have a VG for logical volumes, a VG for swap. and a boot on the first drive. I'm not sure if Lvm will make it faster but it sounds fun.
Cool. I wasn't sure the computer could use more than one Swap.
Cool. I wasn't sure the computer could use more than one Swap.

When you create your volume group for the swap You add each PV physical volume to the VG volume. The VG, volume group, appears as one drive. Next create a LV. logical volume using the entire (100%FREE) VG created for swap. Format the LV linux swap and swapon. I would imagine you already created the LV's for /var / /home in the first VG before setting up swap but it doesnt matter the order if the partitioning is correct. It's easier than it sounds but I prefer to do it from the command line vs the GUI.
Great way to jump in with both feet and start learning hardware! I did a quick search on the 440gx and it looks like you might be able to use up to 2 GB of SDRAM... and you probably have that laying around your shop too. It may or may not help performance all that much unless you do get into some kind of heavy-hitting programs (some games, or whatever).

You also may have been able to skip some of the master/slave worry by putting all devices, including the DVD drive, on Cable Select (CS). But on the chance that CS would not work, you know how to configure the master/slave arrangement too.

Keep up the good work!

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