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Thread: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

  1. #1
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    Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    My system (old Dell Dimension 9100) has built-in RAID (I gather it's called fake-raid from what I've read) and I want to install Ubuntu on a RAID1 pair. From what I've read, I can either (1) use the BIO settings to create the RAID or (2) use the non-RAID BIOS settings and use software RAID during Ubuntu installation (e.g. alternate CD or server).

    Is there any compelling reason for method (1) vs (2)? My initial take is that I like (1) a lot because every time my system boots, the BIOS gives me RAID status (e.g. Normal vs Degraded) before the OS actually boots.

    I've actually tried #1 and have some problems, but I'll refrain from diving into the details for now. Appreciate comments on the basic question of method (1) vs (2).

    Ken

  2. #2
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Most "fake-RAID" devices rely on a software driver installed at the operating system level. Hardly any of the manufacturers of these devices provide Linux support. So unless you have a Linux driver in hand already, I don't think you have a choice. Use software RAID.
    If you ask for help, please have the courtesy to check for responses and thank the people who helped you.

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  3. #3
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Thanks for your reply. I've done some digging and it looks like there is some degree of support (see below link), but it's not clear what exactly I need to do. Software RAID may end up being simpler in the end. I just wish I could find out what's involved either way so as to make an informed decision.

    http://www.intel.com/support/chipset.../CS-020663.htm

    Ken

  4. #4
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    I read that link and the man page for dmraid along with this: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FakeRaidHowto

    Personally if you are not intending on using the device in a dual-boot arrangement, I would choose Linux software RAID. From my quick scanning of those materials, trying to use fake-raid sounds like more trouble than it's worth.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Why do you want to use RAID? Why are you rebooting your system? Whatever you do, upgrade the BIOS to the lastest provided by Dell. If you are setting this up as a server, then you won't be rebooting often, so the RAID status on boot is a nice feature but won't be used much. If this is a dual-boot machine, then it might matter.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Thanks for the additional replies. I've read the FakeRaidHowTo probably 4 times and can't really make any sense of it. That's why I'm posting in the Absolute Beginners Section. To answer other questions, I want to use RAID for data loss protection. It's a home desktop system (not server) that will be used daily but shut off every night (to save electricity). Thus, it will be booted every day. One comment I've read many times that I simply don't get is why RAID is useful for dual boot systems? I thought the purpose of RAID was performance and/or data loss protection. I just don't see the connection to dual boot. I'm leaning more and more toward pure software RAID but before I take the plunge I really would like to know if there are any advantages at all to using the built in BIOS RAID capability (assuming it can be done).

  7. #7
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Just for kicks, I tried creating RAID in the BIOS settings, then installed Ubuntu 12.04 Server using the Manual options, then installed the desktop. I didn't get any noticeable errors. Trouble is I have no idea how to tell if everything is ok. Below is some info I was able to gather. Any way to tell from the below (fyi, sdc is a separate windows boot drive)?

    Code:
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ df
    Filesystem                           1K-blocks    Used Available Use% Mounted on
    /dev/mapper/isw_dhgcjbgjif_Volume0p2 955534076 3604988 903367680   1% /
    udev                                    502892       4    502888   1% /dev
    tmpfs                                   204720     892    203828   1% /run
    none                                      5120       0      5120   0% /run/lock
    none                                    511792     152    511640   1% /run/shm
    
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ sudo dmsetup ls
    isw_dhgcjbgjif_Volume0            (252, 0)
    isw_dhgcjbgjif_Volume0p2    (252, 2)
    isw_dhgcjbgjif_Volume0p1    (252, 1)
    
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ iostat
    Linux 3.11.0-17-generic (Dell-Dimension-9100)     02/24/2014     _i686_    (2 CPU)
    
    avg-cpu:  %user   %nice %system %iowait  %steal   %idle
              10.29    3.55    4.17   13.05    0.00   68.94
    
    Device:            tps    kB_read/s    kB_wrtn/s    kB_read    kB_wrtn
    sda             211.34     89887.46      1477.70   84942753    1396408
    sdb             178.71         1.71     89850.06       1620   84907408
    sdc              12.31       601.97         0.00     568854          0
    dm-0             89.64       685.76      1477.70     648041    1396408
    dm-1              0.58         1.95         0.37       1840        352
    dm-2             88.31       683.64      1477.32     646037    1396056
    
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda
    Disk /dev/sda: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x0002e3e7
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1            2048    11718655     5858304   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda2   *    11718656  1953519615   970900480   83  Linux
    
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ sudo fdisk -l /dev/sdb
    Disk /dev/sdb: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x0002e3e7
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sdb1            2048    11718655     5858304   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sdb2   *    11718656  1953519615   970900480   83  Linux
    
    xxxxx@Dell-Dimension-9100:~$ sudo dmraid -r
    /dev/sdc: hpt45x, "hpt45x_SPARE", spare, ok, 488281239 sectors, data@ 0
    /dev/sdb: isw, "isw_dhgcjbgjif", GROUP, ok, 1953525166 sectors, data@ 0
    /dev/sda: isw, "isw_dhgcjbgjif", GROUP, ok, 1953525166 sectors, data@ 0

  8. #8
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    On servers with real hardware RAID, you'll see just one device, /dev/sda say, and not the underlying devices like I see here. Apparently you also chose to use LVM which makes it a bit more difficult to determine what is happening. I have a sense that Ubuntu ignored the RAID device and installed everything to /dev/sda.

    Also remember that RAID is not a replacement for backups. RAID1 is less vulnerable to disaster than something like RAID5 where no single drive contains a complete copy of the information. I've found that I could remove one of the drives from a software RAID1 array and mount it as a regular device. Still you should set up a regular backup procedure and not rely on RAID.
    If you ask for help, please have the courtesy to check for responses and thank the people who helped you.

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  9. #9
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    The BIOS RAID of the Dell Dimension 9100 is managed by a Intel® Matrix Storage Technology which is OS independent. Should be a key combination to bring up the RAID manager during post; create the array. Then, for installing Windows* a driver is required (provided by Dell, Intel, etc.) otherwise it won't see your array; Linux has native support.

    It should be this simple.

    http://www.intel.com/support/pt/mt/mt_win.htm

    * XP/2003; Vista already supported a few; most are supported in 7/8.
    Last edited by Vladlenin5000; February 25th, 2014 at 03:20 PM. Reason: additional info
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  10. #10
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    Re: Want to use Ubuntu with BIOS RAID

    Thanks for the comments. I think I'll try a pure Software RAID install tonight just to see the difference. So far I've yet to find explicit instructions on how to do a BIOS RAID install, whereas I have detailed instructions on Software RAID.

    SeijiSensei, I'll also incorporate a regular backup scheme.

    Vladlenin5000, the link you posted doesn't go anywhere.

    Regards, Ken

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