I set the array up on Ubuntu. But then for fun I copied my mdadm.conf to a usb drive then yanked Ubuntu and did a clean install of Debian 6.01a. After install, I just copied my mdadm.conf from the usb drive and rebooted and the array started up without a single issue. That's pretty frickin awesome. That's the beauty of Linux and conf files, and for whatever reason it continues to impress me. The learn can be a steep climb at times, but after that things can be done and then replicated with amazing speed.
Yeah, that's one of *NIX's traditional strengths as a server platform. Most services are configured via a single text file, or at most a folder containing a small number of text files. Copy the config file(s) to the appropriate location on a new system, and you've just migrated the settings for that service. A corollary of this is that in a pinch, pretty much any system configuration change can be accomplished with nothing more than a text editor and access to the partition containing the /etc folder.
The way that pretty much everything is easily scriptable, and how the base set of CLI tools all work together is a boon to sysadmins as well.
GUI-based configuration and system management tools only get you so far, since you can only do things that the designer of the tool thought of ahead of time. It is kind of like the old joke about WYSIWYG document editors: it really should be WYSIAYG (What You See Is *All* You Get).
Oh, by the way, I wanted to ask opinions on whether to go RAID1 or RAID5 for the office file server.
If I do RAID5, it would be with (3) 1TB drives.
If I do RAID1, it would be with (2) 2TB drives.
Fault tolerance is the same, although the likelihood of a drive failure is 50% higher with 3 drives instead of 2. Performance of RAID5 is better than RAID1 according to the md manual, but I'm not so sure the performance differences will be dramatic enough to matter. Power consumption isn't really worth factoring in.
So, I'm leaning RAID1, but want to hear you all's thoughts.
Yeah, that's a tough call. A few more things to consider:
Depending on the speed of the CPU, write
performance might actually be better with the RAID-1.
1TB drives are probably more reliable than 2TB ones (fewer platters), so that may negate the additional failure risk from the 3rd drive.
I believe with the RAID-5 you have the option of adding a drive and "reshaping" the array in place to add capacity in the future.
Sorry, I think I've just added to the confusion!