Server on small HDDs

Rodney Peters rpeters at
Tue Sep 17 22:33:34 EST 2002

On Tue, 17 Sep 2002 13:12, linux-request at wrote:
> o: "Linux list" <linux at>
> Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 13:11:33 +1000
> From: "Scott D. Ferguson" <scottf at>
> Reply-To: scottf at
> Subject: Server on small HDDs
> Organization: Angelfire  (
> I would like to install Linux onto an old computer (P120) which has 3 hdds
> (2 x 1.2Gb 1 x 1Gb), and use it as a server for a small network (Samba but
> not Apache).  Any suggestions for the most effecient way to partition the
> drives?
> I will probably use RedHat 7.3.  
> I have previously partioned hda (1.2Gb) as 20Mb boot, 256MB swap and
> remainder as /. hdb (1Gb) as /var.
> hdc (1.2Gb) as /usr.
> With such limited space I would like to use the space more efficiently -
> should I try some sort of RAID arrangement?  (RAID 0?)
The generic advice in the RAID HOWTO is not to put more than one IDE drive 
per ribbon cable.  It would appear that RAID is not worthwhile with your 
current configuration.  A low cost PCI-IDE controller, mentioned recently, 
would be a way of providing a 3rd channel.

The performance improvement that I've measured with software RAID 0 varied 
from near linear to actual decrease.   It appears to be dependent on the IDE 
sub-system of the mobo.
Perhaps try a trial RAID 0 with only one drive on each ribbon and see what 
performance you measure via "hdparm".  If the results are unimpressive, then 
its probably a hardware/firmware limitation and varying partitioning may not 
give much improvement either. 

The SuSE Ref Manual has some interesting advice re partitioning for 
performance.  I don't currently have the manual installed, but In essence, 
the strategy is to pick large, busy, sub-directories eg /usr/X11R6, 
/var/spool and put those in separate partitions at the beginning of  
separate drives.  

> My programming skills are minimal, though I have lots of patience (have
> previously installed Debian on a PS/2 (MCA bus with no scuzzy drives). ---

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