a new home server

I’ve been running an old Shuttle with a 2.4GHz celeron CPU, 512MB of ram and two 500GB disks in raid-1 as home server for the past 5 years or so. Well, I upgraded the disks in May 2007, before that it had 2x 200GB in raid-1. The thing has no UPS and runs in the closet here at home. And yet:

13:40:34 up 569 days, 17:04,  2 users,  load average: 1.26, 0.94, 0.45

Yeah, home power is pretty reliable around here.

This machine serves as the central network storage for our home, and I also use it to back up a bunch of servers that live at a nearby colo facility, with the rather fantastic BackupPC. The Shuttle has served well over the years but it is getting a bit old – I was starting to expect it to fail. Its power draw is rather high: 78W while idle (that’s after applying all of powertop’s suggestions), and a whopping 100W while doing heavy disk activity.

I was running out of disk space again, so I bought two 1TB ‘green’ WD drives (WD10EADS-00L) that are rated at 5.4W active, 2.8W idle, and 0.4W standby/sleep.

Next – a replacement for the Shuttle. First I looked at a QNAP TS-219p which is a rather awesome little NAS device. It’s based on Marvell’s Kirkwood ARM core, which is the same as the one used in the Sheevaplug, clocked at 1.2GHz. This thing is pretty fast. Its power specs are also impressive:

Sleep mode: 5W
In operation: 21W (with 2 x 500GB HDD installed)

I was of course looking to run Debian on it, which is perfectly possible. People like the firmware that the thing comes with, but it’s proprietary so I’d rather not use that. Plus, I need to be able to run BackupPC.

The major downside is price – the TS-219P costs about $400, without disks. Since the Sheevaplug costs about $100, I would have thought a price in the $200-250 range for the TS-219P would have been reasonable.

Meanwhile I came across some really good NAS reviews over at SmallNetBuilder, and in particular their price/performance NAS chart.

Looking at that chart, the MSI Wind PC performance is pretty much on par with the TS-219P, for a fraction of the price. Extra bonus: it does not come with proprietary software preinstalled, because the Wind is really a bare-bones PC. The Wind has one 3.5″ bay, and one 5.15″ bay. It also has an on-board CF adapter. It has a dual-core Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz).

I purchased

$134.99    MSI Wind PC
 $26.99    G.SKILL 2GB 200-Pin DDR2 SO-DIMM DDR2 533
 $43.99    Transcend 16GB Compact Flash (CF) Flash Card Model TS16GCF133
  $9.99    StarTech BRACKET Metal 3.5" to 5.25" Drive Adapter Bracket

Total: $215.96 + shipping

The drive bay adaptor turned out to be not only severely overpriced, but also not practical for the Wind – I had to drill a few holes in the damn thing to make the second hard drive fit in the Wind. Don’t buy this kind, or don’t pay $10 for it!

I installed Debian on the CF card (leaving it read-only during normal operation) and use the two disks purely for data – in raid-1 of course. If I did this again I’d buy a smaller CF card – 8GB would be plenty, even 4GB would be enough for the non-volatile bits of /.

Power use, as tested: idle 27W, with heavy disk activity 33W. In other words, this will take 50-70W off our household power budget, which should work out to a savings of $7 to $10/month.

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One Response to a new home server

  1. Pingback: more home server disk | Off you go... into the purple yonder!

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