This is the second part of an entry that was way too huge to post as one. The first part was Building The New VBOX.
After I was finally able to configure my RAID setup in Ubuntu, I halted the system to assemble everything. Shock and horror! Just before the screen went black, two large FAILED error messages appeared, informing me that an error had occurred when stopping the RAID arrays. Was I surprised? Not really.
Once again I consulted the Great Interweb Oracle, a.k.a. Google. From what I gathered when reading the Ubuntu forums and bug reports, the posters considered it to be a bug that resulted in the RAID array being dirty on every boot. This, in turn, meant that one of the disks would be rebuilt on every boot. A rather useless RAID setup, in my humble opinion.
With a bug of this magnitude, I decided to jump the Ubuntu-wagon and move to another Linux distro. I went with Debian, which I’m somewhat familiar with. It installed without any trouble, I was even able to configure the RAID setup again without having to go through the mdadm nightmare I had with Ubuntu. When it was installed, Debian started up as expected, but when I halted the system, the same RAID error messages as with Ubuntu appeared.
After banging my head against the living room wall for a few minutes, I once again searched the internet for a feasible explanation. After all, Debian is a server Distro used by lots of servers and most of them are probably configured with RAID. I quickly found someone with the same problem as me and discovered that the error messages are actually not caused by a bug at all. It will never be possible to stop the arrays because they are still mounted when the system tries to stop them.
Even if I had now realized that the error messages I saw when shutting down Ubuntu wasn’t a bug after all, I was confident that my choice to dump Ubuntu in favor of Debian was a very good choice. I would rather use a distro with a community that could give me a reasonable explanation for strange behavior than a community that considered the same strange behavior to be a bug.
Anyway. When Debian was finally installed and everything seemed to functioning more or less as expected, work on placing the second 2.5″ SATA drive in the tiny Morex Cubid 3688 case started. If you’re familiar with the size of a 2.5″ hard drive, you will naturally assume that getting the drive into the case should be a walk in the park.
With the DVD drive, the first hard drive, the motherboard with its huge heatsink and all the cables already installed, I was just not able to get the second drive into the case without using a sledge hammer and that probably would have been a very bad idea. Someone with the right engineering skills and tools – something else than a sledge hammer – probably could have attached the second hard drive in the space below the DVD drive bay and applied some kind of shielding from the DC-DC converter and the power connector but at the same time made sure there was good airflow through the case. I tried all that, but soon realized that I lacked both the skills and the tools – at some point I actually attached the hard drive with double sided tape, but I quickly decided that it was a perfect recipe for a disaster, something I tried to avoid. Yes, I had RAID now, but I saw no reason to provoke a hard drive meltdown.
In the end I removed the DVD drive to make space for the second hard drive. I drilled four holes to attach it, naturally managed to miscalculate and the drive is now only attached with three out of four screws. Not a huge problem. Even tough I will probably never have to use the DVD drive ever again – and if I do, I can just open the case and attach it – it’s still a pity to have to remove it.
After everything was finally in place and the lid closed and secured, I’ve had a lot of fun configuring Debian and installing everything I think I’ll need. Right now VBOX is only hosting this page boring page, hopefully the page will contain some more interesting bits of information soon. A permanent link to VBOX can also be found in the footer of every page now.
So there you have it, folks. This is how I spend my vacation. I build computers.