It seems like my concerns were a little misdirected; instead of the disks dying, the first problem appeared was an XFS failure on /var, after about two runs and a half of tree build. I woke up in the middle of the night with the scariest thought about something not being fine on Yamato, and indeed I came to see it not working any more. Bad bad bad.
I’m now considering the idea of getting a box to just handle all the storage problems running something a bit more tested lately: Sun’s ZFS. While Ted Tso’s concerns are pretty scary indeed, it seems like ZFS is the one filesystem that I could be using to squirm out all the possible performance and quality of disks, for network serving. And as far as I remember, Sun’s Solaris operating system comes with an iSCSI target software out of the box, which would really work out well for my MacBook’s needs too.
Now the problem is, does Enterprise still work? The motherboard is what I’m not sure about, but I guess I can just try that and then replace it if needed; I certainly need to replace the power supply since it’s now mounting a 250W, and I also need to replace the chassis, since the one I have now, mounting a Plexiglass side, and that makes it too noisy to stay turned on all the time.
I’m considering setting it up with four 500GB drives, which would cost me around 600 euro, included case and power supply; having eight, using the Promise SATA PCI card I have already, would bring me to 1K euro, and 4TB of space, but I don’t think it’s worth that yet. Both the Promise card and the onboard controller are SATA/150 but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, with the Gigabit Ethernet being the bottleneck more than likely. Unfortunately this plan will not be enacted until I get enough jobs to finish paying for Yamato, and save the money for that.
Now, while I have to do with what I have, there is one problem. I have my video and music collection on the external Iomega drive, RAID1 “hardware”, 500GB of actual space divided roughly in 200GB for music/video and 300GB for OSX’s TimeMachine; the partition table is GUID (EFI) and the partitions are HFS+, so that if ever Yamato is turned off, I can access the data directly on the laptop through FireWire. This is all fine and dandy, if it wasn’t that I cannot move my iTunes folder in there because I cannot export the filesystem through NFS.
Linux does need kernel support for exporting filesystems through NFS, and the HFS+ driver in current Linux does not support this feature — yet. Because the nice thing about Linux and Free Software is that you can make them do whatever you wish as long as you have the skills to do that. And I hope I have enough skill to get this to work. I’m currently setting up a Fedora 10 install on vbox so that I can test my changes without risking a panic on my running kernel.
Once that’s working I’ll focus again on the tinderboxing, even though I cannot deal with the disk problem just yet. I have a few things to write about on that regard, especially about the problem of bundled libraries.