[CentOS] settings up cheap a NAS / SAN server, is it possible?

Ross S. W. Walker RWalker at medallion.com
Mon Jun 30 17:28:04 UTC 2008

David Mackintosh wrote:

> On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 09:08:15AM +0200, Rudi Ahlers wrote:
> > Hi all
> > 
> > I want to look at setting up a simple / cheap SAN / NAS server using 
> > normal PIV motherboard, 2GB (or even more) RAM, Core 2 Duo CPU (probably 
> > a Intel 6700 / 6750 / 6800) & some SATA HDD's (4 or 6x 320GB - 750GB). 
> > My budget is limited, so I can't afford a pre-built NAS device.
> My own experience: I have done two NAS systems using CentOS.  One is
> a HP DL585G1 with four 300GB drives using a hardware RAID-5.  The
> second is a Dell PowerEdge 2600 with four 300GB drives (software
> raid-10) and two 32GB drives (software raid-1).  
> One has a multi-core Opteron processor, the other has a high-end
> Xeon processor with HT disabled.  Both have 2GB of RAM.
> Both are used by high-demand compute processes as NFS servers.
> Despite a lot of fidding, configuring, testing and tuning, neither
> result is very good when it comes to NFS performance.  We've gone
> so far as to run everything as noatime (ie local mount, nfs export,
> and nfs client mount) hoping for better performance.
> In comparing the systems we tried the hardware-RAID5 first on the 
> assumption that HW-Raid5 is faster than SW-Raid, for a higher yield
> than Raid-10.  However we don't think that the elevator used in the
> kernel makes intelligent stepping decisions on the HW-Raid5 because
> it doesn't see the "real" geometry of the disks involved, only the
> aparrent geometry of the RAID5 disk.
> The Software-Raid10 is better in some ways because the kernel sees
> the real disk geometries.  Performance is about on par with the 
> other computer, even though the other computer has the better CPU.
> Due to the hardware involved I couldn't try Solaris 10, but we have
> had experiences in the past where the NFS server on Solaris was
> significantly better than the NFS server in CentOS/RedHat, both in
> terms of throughput and perceved latency under load.
> If I was doing it again, I'd push harder for a budget for a NetApp
> filer.  For what we are attempting to do, you get what you pay for.
> If I was doing it again with the budget restrictions, I'd probably 
> try Solaris with software raid.  I would then try the *BSD family,
> but only after Solaris because I have extensive Solaris experience.

On Linux storage servers that use RAID try elevator=deadline for
better io scheduling performance.

The default 'cfq' scheduler is really designed for single-disk
interactive workstation io patterns.


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