I get asked often enough how I chose my home system, why I chose a
single CPU system with just 2 disks that I'm going to put down the
thought process here.
My priorities were in order:
The data is important. My photographs, the kids home work and
correspondence the family members have both in the form of letters
Total cost of ownership.
I have a realistic expectation that I will write the system off
over 5 or more years, so the cost of the power it uses is important.
Quantity of disk space.
I needed at least 60G to move off the Qubes so add in a bit of a
safety margin and 300G should keep us going for 5 years (unless some
new technology like a helmet camera starts eating through the disk
as if it cost nothing).
It sits in a room where I work. I am used to using a Sun Ray
which is silent so having it as quiet as possible is the ideal.
It was to replace a pair of Qube 3 which were beautifully small
and sits on a window ledge. So a tower was not practical.
Given these constraints there was just one choice for file system,
ZFS, so the system just had to support at least 2 disks so that they
could be mirrored. The cost of running more than two disks combined
with the fact that 300G drives are affordable and that the form
factor of the box made having more disks less appealing even though
that would have been faster. More spindles == more performance,
I'm not regretting this decision despite the fact that the system
can be extremely unresponsive when doing a live upgrade. Since both
drives contain the mirrors of both boot environments when running
lumake to copy one boot environment to the other the disk performance
is terrible as the heads seek back and forth, the same is true during
the install as I have the DVD image on the same disks. Putting the
image on the external USB drive does help, but the problem is not
really bad enough that I bother. Having 4 disks would have mitigated
this. I'm hopeful that when we get native queuing support in the sata
driver this will improve slightly. Having root on ZFS should
eventually eliminate the lumake copy step as that will be a clone.
choice of mother board was defined by a desire to be able to support
4G of RAM so that if the system turned into a Sun Ray server, which
it has, I have the option of a reasonable amount of memory to support
two or three users and support for SATA disks since the price
performance of those drives fitted my storage requirements.
Obviously it had to be able to boot from these drives.
was no need for good graphics but 2 network ports had to be available
so if it came with one that would be idea. Gigabit networking would
also help. I put all of those variables in and one of my blogless
colleagues suggested the ASUS M2NPV-VM
which was built around chipsets that the release of OpenSolaris that
was current at the time should support. The only exception was the
Nvidia graphics driver which at that time was not available. However
since I did not need graphics that was not an issue. It had an on
board 1GigaBit network so even with the addition of a second network
card there are sill free slots if I need them.
The choice of CPU was
based on cost and the knowledge that the Casper's
powernow driver does not support multiple CPUs or Muilti core
CPUs. For reasons of getting under the budget I had I chose the AMD
Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3500+ Socket AM2 which will run at 17.8 Watts
when running at 1Ghz.
I know of people who
are successfully using the following CPUS with power now on this
mother board, however this does not constitute any kind of guarantee:
Earliest BIOS Version known to
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
705 01/02/2007 (My colleague thinks it first started working on 0303 firmware,
but is not certain.)
AMD Athon 64 3500+
Athlon 64 3000+
If you know of other
CPUs that work with the PowerNow driver on this motherboard let me
know and I will update the table.
The compnents not appearing in this Blog
system has a DVD RW but that was chosen on the whim that the supplier
supplying the CPU, motherboard and case shipped that. The thing I
don't have that might surprise some is a tape drive. Since I state
that the number one goal was data integrity you would think a good
back up would seem to be a requirement. However I have found my
external USB disk drive, combined with being able to backup ZFS
snapshots to DVD (hint here set the quota on your file systems to
less than the size of a DVD, make back ups easier) means that while I
know rebuilding would be very hard I'm sure I have all the
photographs safe. My children's homework has such a short life span
that anything other than the snapshots is unlikely to help.
OpenSolaris HomeServer Solaris