Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

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Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:41 am

Hi. Whats the absolutely cheapest someone can build a box purely to be a linux based, always on, storage server these days? I'm talking something with integrated graphics, a 250w or less PSU, a case that will neither be seen or heard as it will be stuffed in a corner someplace, and slightly more cpu horsepower than an Atom or a zacate? Very little software will actually be run on this box.

Any recs on parts? If I had to give a pricepoint for this box I'm thinking maybe USD 300 if you ignore the cost of the drives? No peripherals needed or software. Just the box minus the actual drives.

Would buy from newegg or microcenter or similar stores based in the US. Looking to build in 1-4 weeks.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:59 am

"Cheapest" is a wide range, but for the given $300 budget I'd go with a HP Microserver and you won't have to build anything.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:24 am

second hand PC + a few big hard drives and you're done.

obviously you could save electric by getting something atom or bobcat based but it'll probably take a couple of years to claw that money back
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:57 am

Quick Newegg look:

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811147111
Power: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151086
Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138329
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819103888
Memory: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820146748

That should give you a basic barebone setup for a Linux server, with more horse power compared to Atom or Zacate.
Grand total was about $201 after shipping (well within your budget).
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:50 am

Quite honestly you don't even need what CPU power an Atom will give you to make a decent Linux fileserver. I've had one at work for... six years now that's based on a decommissioned Pentium 3 desktop running Debian and sharing out via Samba, gradually upgraded from 128MB of RAM to 512MB. No complaints at all about performance[1], and the only time the CPU's worked up a sweat was when I upgrade a MySQL database that's also running on it.

Get a cheap low-power CPU, 512MB to 1GB of RAM (probably more, RAM is cheap!), lots of storage, and a good Intel-based NIC. Splurge on a good case with easy-access drive bays and a quality low-power PSU. Maybe you want to run FreeNAS instead of Linux, unless learning Linux is your goal, and if so IMO you should run either Debian or CentOS.


[1] Nothing that's the computer's fault, anyway; we're stuck on 100 Mbps to the desktop here, and it's a little slow sometimes.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:56 am

The amount of memory needed will be based on what desktop environment is used.
512 MB will be more than sufficient for a command line only setup, but over 1GB would be recommended for any GUI.

Just saying.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:58 am

I also recommend an Atom machine. I had a single-core Atom 230 as my server for quite some time. I only upgraded to the Atom from my 450MHz Pentium II for noise reasons. It doesn't take much power to serve up files and stuff. I would still get a dual-core model (330, D510, D525) just in case you want to do something else with it later. The extra core really makes a difference.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:59 am

sircharles32 wrote:The amount of memory needed will be based on what desktop environment is used.
512 MB will be more than sufficient for a command line only setup, but over 1GB would be recommended for any GUI.

Just saying.


Not necessarily. LXDE will happily run on 384MB of RAM.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:08 pm

If expense is an issue, there is the ongoing cost that needs to be considered.

You can get down to something like 15 watts for a 2 drive NAS. At fifteen cents per kWh and an 18 hour per day duty cycle, electric costs come to about $1.2/mo or almost $15/year. Running that up to a 75 watt system running 24x7 would up those numbers to $8/mo and almost $100/year. That's a range of more than $80/year on just the low end. Over a 5 year amortization schedule, the difference comes up to more than $400 (check my numbers! I found typos I had to fix and there might be more ... ;-) )

The 15 watts and partial day duty cycle is what I get with my ReadyNAS duo (a bit less in reality), which is admittedly underpowered. The 75 watts is a bit more than a Pentium 3 machine I have used for a similar purpose (getting less than 50 watts might be possible, though) .

I note that a lot of progress has been made for reducing idle power in modern hardware and that can help minimize the difference between occasional need for capabilities and energy usage.

It should also be noted that a machine with an external clock to handle automatic duty cycle implementation can make an impact on power bills if you set it to reflect your actual use needs and have it idle for 6 or more hours per day.

For hardware capability measures in this application, I'd use SATA drive to USB 3.0 drive file transfer speeds as a primary measure. You could also see what a GB ethernet wired client can do for file transfer.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:21 pm

sircharles32 wrote:Quick Newegg look:

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811147111
Power: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151086
Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138329
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819103888
Memory: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820146748

That should give you a basic barebone setup for a Linux server, with more horse power compared to Atom or Zacate.
Grand total was about $201 after shipping (well within your budget).


Nice little box. Only question is how the sempron you recommended is something I'd keep around for more than a year. As a single core chip in this day and age, I can't seriously eyeball it as a viable option can I?? I honestly was thinking more along the lines of a sandybridge dual core celeron with a 50 dollar matx board.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128527
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819116409

Don't you think its a little better buy for like 20 dollars more?
The rest of the build though is fabulous.

@everyone else
Have had bad experiences with atoms and are ruling them out at this point. Power savings in terms of dollars and cents really aren't that big of a deal, though noise and heat would be something to deal with. Whilst I'm planning for a storage server, I can't rule out the possibility of one day having to use the box in an emergency or for some other secondary purpose. It likely will spend 99% of its time as a storage server though.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:39 pm

What ever works for you.
I was merely following your criteria, as you had stated at the beginning.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:59 pm

Hi!
If you want to get a ready-made box... here's something I use for my file server: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859105954. It goes for $319 or $349 for the faster version with 2 GB RAM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859107052. From time to time they have a sale on those (dealnews or slickdeals is your friend) and I got mine for $250. Granted, I put 8 GB of RAM into it (for FreeNAS with ZFS) and that increased the price by $100 but you may be fine with the standard 1 GB. Fine little box. The only thing to note is that it has no optical drive so you'll need one (internal or external) to install the OS. Or you could use a USB flash drive which works fine, too. Oh, and as far as the CPU is concerned I'm not sure how it compares to Atoms or Zacate but I think it should be more powerful than either. Maybe someone else here can speak to that.
Last edited by bitcat70 on Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:00 pm

If you don't want to go with Atom, then I just grab a Celeron G530. It is a 2.40GHz dual-core Sandy Bridge chip and is $52 on the Egg. Or if you want to spend a little more ($83) you can grab a Pentium G620T which is a 2.20GHz dual-core Sandy Bridge, but is rated at 35W TDP rather than 65W. They won't pull anywhere near that because they will basically live idle.

Celeron G530 2.40GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116409

Pentium G620T 2.20GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819116401
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:46 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:Nice little box. Only question is how the sempron you recommended is something I'd keep around for more than a year. As a single core chip in this day and age, I can't seriously eyeball it as a viable option can I?? I honestly was thinking more along the lines of a sandybridge dual core celeron with a 50 dollar matx board.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128527
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819116409

Don't you think its a little better buy for like 20 dollars more?
The rest of the build though is fabulous.


Headless Linux file servers don't need a lot of processing.

Lots of RAM, fast network connections, and disk IO are the things that really matter. I'm assuming you're not going to have twenty users hammering this thing for eight hours a day, so you should prioritize the first two. Linux will cache files in RAM to speed up file access, so more RAM means more files can be cached. All the resources in the world aren't going to help if the box is hooked up to a 10Mb half duplex line.

You're going to be running samba, ssh, maybe a webserver for WebDav, and soft RAID. That doesn't take a lot of horsepower, and the Sempron will provide more then enough. Most commercial NAS boxes are built on ARM chips and Atoms. It's only at the really high end that Celerons and others start appearing.

The AMD A4-3400, AMD Athlon II X2 270, and Intel Pentium G620 are interesting alternatives at $70 and 65W. I'd be interested in the Athlon 2 X2 if I could find a board with an Intel NIC and didn't want to maximize power.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:14 pm

Hi Sunburn, I have been toying with the idea of building an OpenIndiana/Solaris Express derived ZFS NAS for file storage and backup. I probably have different criteria than you, but you might like to hear some of my initial thoughts.

I am thinking of using an Athlon II X2 270u (dual 2.08GHz - 2x 512KB) 25W TDP or if you want a little more grunt there is the Athlon II X2 250e (dual 3.0GHz - 2x 1MB) 45W TDP. I am going the AMD route so I can get some ECC memory as this thing is going to hold all my precious documents and other important files.

I would likely pair the CPU up with an ASUS AM3+ motherboard and Kingston ECC memory. I am guessing fewer larger memory modules would use less power, but will have to check to see if I am correct on that point.

As for power I would like to find a 80+ low power PSU. I was thinking of going the DC-DC converter route with a picoPSU. I have heard a DC-DC PSU will save a few watts but don't really understand how, when it still requires an external AC/DC power brick? The other advantage of the picoPSUis its 100% silent fanless design and small form factor.

Ninja edit: I will try to get a NIC with an Intel or Broadcom chipset that is similar to those used in Sun servers, preferably with PXE support if you want to do things like network install.
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:46 pm

Interesting. I looked at the 270u and a few other alternatives and just cant find any compelling reason to move from my AMD Athlon 2650e / Biostar N68S+ based machine. With everything my system has in it, it idles at only 51watts. I plan to migrate to fewer larger drives in the future, down from the 7 drives I have in it now to 2. The 2650e CPU's are a great cheap way to make an energy efficient server. CPU, MB, and 2GB of memory might run you 80 bucks. And to help with being as miserly on power as possible, I went with an Antec Earthwatts 380w 80+ PSU. I'd love an E-350 APU based server, but honestly...its just not needed. After I reduce things to say.. 2x 3TB WD Green drives I expect power to go down even further. Has anyone seen anything else that is compelling?
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Re: Advice on building cheap cheap linux storage server

Postposted on Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:34 pm

I recently built an ITX 6 drive nas running NAS4FREE + ZFS Raidz1 for archiving my stuff.

Specs:

Intel G530 - $35 - ebay
Asus P8H77 - $99 - [url]Newegg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... therboards[/url]
Corsair CX500 PSU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027&name=Power-Supplies
Lian Li PC-Q25B Case - $119 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112339&name=Computer-Cases

I had an old intel SSD (connected via USB3 internally) as boot along with an Intel CT gigabit NIC, 8gb of ram, and 6x Samsung 2TB drives from old builds. The psu at 500watt is totall overkill but it was on sale with a rebate which came out to be extremely cheap.

With 6x 3tb Samsung drives in Raidz1, the read speed is about 326mb/s internally and saturates the gigabit connection on both reading and writing to the nas.

The G530 was perfect for this as it was powerful and low power enough. The price of the CPU and the Asus mobo with 6 sata ports was abouthe same as some ATOM based ITX mobos.
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