When I originally bought the HP N40L, I had thought the software would be a quick drag and drop type thing, and the actual build would take more time. Unfortunately, configuring a server takes a lot more time that I had originally assumed, so I’m going to outline ‘The Build’ in this post, and save ‘The Setup’ for a later one. The build is pretty simple – the server comes with 4 slot loading hard drive bays, so all you really need to do is procure the 4 hard drives that will be in the server. Unfortunately, with hard drive prices as high as they are right now, getting the drives took me about 2 weeks to finally decide which model to go with, and to work a little bit to actually be able to afford them. I placed an order on Newegg this past Thursday for 4 Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB hard drives. Being the green series, they spin at 5900 RPM, but offer a 64 MB cache and SATA III connectivity. While I highly doubt my server will ever approach the SATA III 6 Gb/s bandwidth limit, its nice to know there’s some wiggle room built into the system – right now, the largest bottleneck is network speed and my 10/100 Mbps router. I had originally planned on upgrading the RAM to 8 GB at the same time I got the hard drives, but I honestly forgot to add it to my shopping cart before checking out; given that the HDDs almost ran a $500 bill, its probably best to hold off on the RAM for the time being anyway.
So onto the actual install of the hard drives. I received the box from Newegg the beginning of last week. I’m assuming Newegg receives their drives in styrofoam packing with 8 drives per set, as my box contained the styrofoam with 4 drives in it. Unfortunately, I forgot that OEM drives do not come with mounting hardware, so a trip to Unicorn Electronics was necessary to get the mounting screws. After I had all of the parts, installing the drives was a matter of removing the slot loading trays and securing each drive. After that, I simply had to reload the trays and the drives were good to go. I’ll get into the software more in the next post, but I’ll touch on the formatting of the drives quickly now. After the drives were installed and I booted the system up, I formatted each drive and created a software based RAID1 configuration using GEOM Mirror, which is part of FreeNAS by default. Because RAID1 only allows 2 drives to be used at a time, at least for the software based instance I’m using, I set up 2 RAID1 configurations, one for Data and the other for Backups. The drives are shared on the network via SMB and AFP shares, based on what I plan on using them for.
So, like I said at the beginning of the post, the hardware was a quick and easy process. Since I’ve got the drives installed, I’ve been playing with getting the software tweaked properly for the past 2 weeks almost. Once it’s all working properly, I’ll outline how everything is set up in the next post.