RAID Controller help w/ Debian.

LeRoy_Blanchard

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So I picked up a cheap, used HPE DL160 G6 2U rackmount server w/ dual Xeons, 32GB RAM and 4x 1TB hard drives connected to a B110i RAID Controller card built into the mainboard. I've tried installing Debian 10 on the server, but it fails.

Basically, when I go to select a disk drive for installing the operating system it lists only 1 option which appears to be some sort of RAID array (has RAID in the name of the disk) so I go through the guided install and put everything in the root system. After all that completes, (few other steps go by also I can't remember) it gets to the point where it asks me where to install the GRUB Boot loader. My options are manual and then it lists all four of those 1TB drives individually. What gives?

Now, I've gone in the BIOS and disabled the RAID controller card by setting it to AHCI. No change.
I've made multiple RAID array's in the RAID controller. No changes.

Did some reading on the problem and basically it seems the RAID card is "fake HW RAID" in a way that it's a physical card, but it needs drivers for the OS to see the RAID array. Tired of digging around with it (been working on it the past 3 days)

So, I am going to just get a different RAID controller (used, prefer ebay type specials) and use it instead. Yeah, I know nothing about RAID controllers and there are SO many options. Will any PCI RAID card work in the HPE DL160 G6? Do I need HPE specific RAID Controllers? I learned that LSI is a common controller that gets rebranded by Dell, HP and others for their branded controller cards. So, can I just buy any ole LSI controller card?

If there is one thing I'd like to have the ability to it would be for larger hard drives. Say in the 6 - 8TB range, but it's not a big deal. The 4x 1TB drives will handle my main purpose of what I'm doing on this build anyway.

I do not want to spend a lot of money on a controller though. Like, I'd ideally like to keep it at $20 or so.
 

LazyGamer

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A G6... would be so old that we wouldn't be legally allowed to plug them into anything :D

But I'm not posting to pick on you, I have older hardware that still works myself.

The simple advice is to grab a cheap PCIe card and do the 'RAID' in Linux, if you're interested in keeping the cost closer to $20 than $200.

Most LSI cards will do the same thing, just with SAS connectors. I'm using one that had been flashed into 'IT' mode where it acts just like a SATA card, and I'm using two breakout cables with the SAS connectors to connect 6TB and 8TB drives. The card I have is based on the LSI 9211 chipset, which is so old that I had to download a driver for CentOS 8 -- Red Hat took it out!

But if you want to set up RAID on the card and then install Debian on top, you're going to need to do significantly more research. If you want to get into the 'why', look up ZFS when you have some spare time.
 

Space_Ranger

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If you're going down the road of ZFS for the filesystem, then you'll want to avoid getting a "Raid" card and go with a simple HBA card instead. ZFS highly suggests staying away from RAID controllers for the drives that'll be used.
 

LeRoy_Blanchard

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I do not plan to use ZFS and I don't even need RAID. I'm just using this rig to see how it runs some BOINC projects since I got it pretty cheap.

I just want to install Debian and crunch some BOINC projects.
 

David_Schroth

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According to my google foo'ing, you're going to have a hard time with that raid controller + Debian.

Specifically, do a find on this page for B110i (sure, it's for the DL360, but close enough) - Relevant quote below from https://wiki.debian.org/HP/ProLiant

Hardware RAID logical volumes are invisible to OS, physical disks are exposed to OS, Debian could be installed but has to be handled with great care upon post-installation and when upgrading! See post #3 in this thread at linuxquestions which is a rough howto for CentOS. I would suggest disabling hardware raid and setting up software raid or no raid at all until the driver makes its way on the Linux Kernel, if it ever does.
 

David_Schroth

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Yeah I already seen that.

That's why I'm seeking other options.
Yeah.. reading is fundamental. Sorry about that.

So, I suppose it depends on your overall budget and desired performance. For my ESXI box (which requires it to be a hardware raid controller), I picked up a LSI MegaRAID MR SAS 9260-8i w/ BBU. Note for this card, a functioning BBU is required to use the 512MB of on board write cache (RAM) which significantly improves performance (night and day difference). They seem to be in the $30-35 ballpark (though, if you get a fresh pull that's been running for a while, the BBU may die on the way to you if the battery is too old - easy enough to get replacements).

There's a ton of similar models to look at, just check driver support before buying. Overall, look for 1. Does it support your drive type (SAS vs SATA vs both) 2. Does it support the raid mode you want to run? 3. Does it have on board cache and a BBU?

When you plug in the card, it'll do a pre-boot ROM load just like you see for the on board raid controller (after the onboard raid controller loads) and you'll configure there and should be able to tell the BIOS to boot to that card/slot. Overall, I don't think there _should_ be a specific compatibility thing to consider.
 

David_Schroth

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That is actually the one I was looking at on eBay. Though it's a Supermicro model, but it's just a rebranded LSI.

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338538256&icep_item=324189552912

For $20. Don't know how to check compatibility with Debian though.
My basic internet searching says it should be fine with Debian. However, I would still encourage to look at the units with the BBU for an extra $10 or so.. though I suppose it depends on what you'll run on it.
 

LeRoy_Blanchard

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My basic internet searching says it should be fine with Debian. However, I would still encourage to look at the units with the BBU for an extra $10 or so.. though I suppose it depends on what you'll run on it.
BOINC Projects. Nothing that will matter if I lost some or all the data on the drives. Just have to reinstall and/or download new tasks for BOINC to crunch.

Like I mentioned before; I don't need RAID. I just need the OS to see something so I can get it installed on the server and start using it. As of right now the server will not allow me to continue regardless if I have RAID disabled on the controller card or not. I get stuck in the same location (installing GRUB) every time.

I am hoping if I get a different RAID controller card that I can actually get Debian installed and running.
 

LeRoy_Blanchard

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Run it from a live image? At least until you can get another main drive controller
Yeah I feel really dumb now. Completely forgot Linux has Live media to boot directly from. So I tossed a Live version on the USB stick. She loaded up just fine. Checked the disks and I could see 4, individual 1TB disks. So I tried the install directly from the Live instance. Everything went smoothly, rebooted, removed all removable media and now she's rocking some BOINC projects after a few system updates.

Thanks for the suggest @Brian_B
 
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