Another batch of silly newbie questions
A customer of ours wants to upgrade their mail server. At the moment, it's a Pentium III, running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Not sure what they use as the mail server software, but it's pretty heavy, because with spam filtering, virus scanning, etc, it's almost at full capacity at just 30 or so mailboxes.
Hardware-wise, they are biased towards EPoX, for a good reason - they happen to be EPoX's dealer for Israel.
I've been thinking about building it around a 8KDA3J board with a pair of SATA 120GB or 160GB drives running in RAID1, but I've run into a few snags.
First, it turns out that the nvRAID function of nForce3 250 doesn't work with Linux, at all. When I put together a test system, configured the pair of drives as RAID1 volume, booted FC3 install and saw two separate drives, I was quite surprised - went online to look and saw the above statement. Which reduces me to software RAID.
Second, it appears that Linux, or at least FC3, can't boot from a software RAID volume, and can't house a /boot partition on the same drive with a software RAID volume either. This was solved easily enough, by dragging an old 2GB Quantum Pioneer out of junk box, and putting the /boot partition there. Created an LVM group on the RAID1 volume and put root and swap partitions there, seems to be working.
Install went smooth, but I still have a few questions:
1) Under Windows, nForce3 250 has support for hot plugging of SATA drives. When I tried it in FC3, the system locked up. Is there a way to configure it to work, or does a drive swap in a software mirror involve a mandatory powerdown?
2) The single boot drive remains a non-redundant part. What can be done about it? I assume the contents of the /boot partition are static (yes, I'm that clueless when it comes to Linux... bear with me please) - is it possible to put it on a CD/DVD/USB flash stick? Or just make an image of it after the system is installed, backup it into a safe location, and in case of boot drive crash, restore it from the backup and continue working without having to fix anything on the server itself?
3) (Edit) They are considering migrating their mail system to IMAP, for easier backup management; however, this will considerably increase network traffic. How good are Linux drivers for nForce integrated gigabit ethernet connection? Throughput/latency/CPU utilization? Is it worth it to use the integrated stuff, or is an investment in a dedicated PCI GigE NIC from 3COM or Intel worthwhile? PCI bandwidth cap shouldn't be a problem, as there's nothing else occupying the bus, but a quality GigE NIC is still somewhat expensive.
I realize that the best solution is to get a dedicated RAID card, but we're on a budget here - target price is $500 or so, without RAM (in addition to EPoX, they also work with Samsung and TwinMOS). $200 for CPU, $80 for motherboard, $100 per drive, $70 for case, $50 for cheapest video card, and we're already over budget...