Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
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Konaan
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Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

Hey all. Just signed up, but not super new on Linux Mint. It has been my distro of choice for some time now. I still like Ubuntu, Kali, and *gasp* Windows 10. with that said, here is my issue. I have five 80GB drives in my machine. First off, I know what you are thinking. "Why do you still use those tiny drives?" Here is why. I have eight of the in total. I don't want to throw them away. They are still good drives, though a couple are starting to show some bad sectors. I want to use them up before I start getting into my larger drives and making my life easier.

Here is what I know and have done.
1.)Currently typing this on a dual boot with Win10 and Mint.
2.)Have successfully multi booted Win10 and four Linux distros each with its own drive.
3.)Installed Mint on one drive, and did a Raid 0 and a Raid 5 on the remaining four.
4.)Tried installing on a FakeRAID. Saw many posts condemning that. Removed that quickly! Didn't work for me anyway. Windows worked fine. :)
5.)Googled for a whole week trying to figure out how to install ON a raid 5. I found references to installing on Raid 1, but I am not wanting a mirror. Most of the pages I found were for Ubuntu, which should mostly work since Mint was built on it. Still no luck. Here are links I have used to no avail.
https://www.pcsteps.com/509-software-ra ... ntu-linux/
https://www.claudiokuenzler.com/blog/77 ... -partition
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=210439
6.)Using sites above, I have run ubiquity /b and manually created a 100MB boot partition, a 4GB swap partition, and the rest being the root partition. I made the boot and swap partitions into raid 1s and the root a raid 5 and installed Mint to the raid 5. After the install I ran the commands that I saw in the 3rd link above (even though his was for a raid 1 setup). I never got the machine to boot.

This may have been a little long winded and I apologize. Basically I just want to use all five of my drives in a raid 5 configuration, with the three partitions I defined, and be able to install Mint to it. Sounds simple in concept. lol

Please, I am looking for advice on whether I am thinking about this all wrong and where I am missing key information to make this work. If there is a guide out there that I have missed, I apologize and please direct me to it. I am, by no means, an advanced user. Very basic so far, but trying to stay off Windows as much as possible. As an aside I have gotten many of my programs working in Mint that I need either by Wine directly, or using Crossover, so I am more than willing to put in the blood, sweat, and *many* tears into learning. This is just one area that is eluding me.

Thank you in advanced for any advice.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by jglen490 »

RAID5 has some advantages, it also has some disadvantages. It's fairly resource efficient, meaning the five 80GB drives will yield about 320GB of useful storage. That with striping and parity, provides for decent availability and file recovery. On the down side if a drive goes bad, and you replace it, it will take a relatively long time to rebuild the filesystem and the data. Of course with RAID5 if you have (example) one drive that's 500GB and three drives that are 1TB each, it treats the array as (4 x 500GB) - 500GB = 1.5TB of useful storage. So you need to be careful about mixing sizes of drives.

You've done your research, but just wanted to put some reality on the math :shock:
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

Thank you very much for your feedback. Yes, I do realize the advantages and disadvantages of my requested setup. It is usually how I run windows and I like it. I don't keep a lot of stuff on my drives which is why I am not super concerned about the amount of space I will have available. I only keep a few games installed and a few VMs for playing with different things.

Once I get through these five 80GB drives, I have 27 more of varying sizes and formats (2.5, 3.5, M2, etc) ranging from 100GB up to 2TB with some being mechanical and SSD. Don't expect I will need to buy drives for a while. lol.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

So, an update to this, but not the end result I was wanting....

While waiting to see if there was someone that had the information I was missing to set up LM in this format I downloaded and used the Ubuntu Alternate installer for 19.10. It was easy to set up, on all five drives, a 100MB /boot partition (Raid 1) and the rest as the /root partition (Raid 5) and the installer took care of the rest. I am typing this update now on that build. The downside to this method is it does it in BIOS mode, not EFI.

Here is my issue. While I like Ubuntu, I like Mint better. I contemplated installing Cinnamon on Ubuntu, but that is just a cosmetic band aid. I like Mint pure. So I am still hoping someone out there has that magic answer I am seeking. I don't mind rebuilding my system and trying different things. Lord knows I have already ruined a couple SSDs with how often I rebuild my computers. That is why I put mechanical drives in them until I find that magic setup that I really like. Then I will put SSDs in and do my final build (for a little bit anyway).
Last edited by Konaan on Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by jglen490 »

I am by no means a RAID guru, but I am setting up a Synology NAS for a small organization that I am a part of, and have the Synology device set up as a RAID5 with 4 1TB drives. Like I said a small organization! But the data and files are valuable, and we almost lost our central drive from an old, no longer supported Toshiba Canvio. I literally ripped the device apart, pulled out the drive out, put it in my Kubuntu desktop unit at home and discovered the RAIDed device was based on a Linux OS. I was able to save the data files to my desktop, before the drive gave up. So we're moving on and I have the joy of setting up a Synology for the first time. That's what they give the big ($0.00) bucks for :lol:

Best wishes to you! I think you have it well in hand.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

Congrats and good job on the save. Thank you for the well wishes as well.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

Been over 48 hours so I wanted to do a bump and post and hopefully elicit some responses.

So after using the Ubuntu alternate installer, and using it to create 500 MB primary partitions on my five 80 GB drives (in Raid 1), and the rest as a primary partition set up in a raid 5, the installer knew what to do with the partitions defined as /boot and /root. Of course this is all set up as BIOS partitioning.

This is all fine and dandy, but I want to go EFI and Mint. Here is where I think I need the most help. I can set up 500MB partitions and the rest as /root under the EFI partitioning scheme and set up the same raid setup as before. Since the Mint installer isn't raid aware like the Ubuntu one, how do I tell it to set up the boot files on the raided 500MB partition? It is self explanatory on telling it where to install the OS itself. I do know that I have to run "ubuity /b". I think all the commands that need to be run after the installer is done is where I am struggling. I remember seeing chown, grub-install, verifying guid's show up in different files, etc. I think that is where I am falling short.

Thoughts?
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by DisturbedDragon »

I admit I have never installed Mint to boot from RAID of any type but do have Mint systems with RAID5 AND RAID6 storage arrays. These though are set up with hardware RAID devices. You say fake RAID which I assume is some sort of onboard sudo controller but would like to know more about the hardware setup and how Mint recognizes the drive. This will dramatically help other in helping you as well.

Please be clear if attempting pure software or sudo (fake) RAID.

What is the motherboard and chipset used? Is there a separate RAID controller chip? Are you setting up the disk array in BIOS/EFI BIOS? Does the Mint installer see one drive or each individual disk?
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

Setting up raided storage arrays hasn't been difficult for me so I am confident there. I am looking to boot on a raided drive...and there is the challenge. I see enough people claiming they have done it on Raid 1s and some cryptic posts about a raid 0.

To answer your questions...
1. I am strictly dealing with software raid (mdadm) based off numerous arguments against fakeRAIDs...fakeRAID drive wasn't seen by Mint anyway. Just individual drives.
2. I am using an ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
3. It is using the "onboard raid controller".
4. My system is set up using EFI.
5. Once the raids are set up using Gparted and MDADM, I can see both the raids and the individual drives.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by DisturbedDragon »

I did a lot of reading then fired up a couple multi drive VM's to see what would happen. Creating the arrays goes smooth enough but grub cannot be installed on mdadm software raid. I read several posts that said it is possible but none that had actually done it. Tried installing grub manually but this also failed fairly spectacularly. Installing Ubuntu Server will even tell you this is not supported straight away if all drives are selected for software raid when installing.

I then added a 1GB single disk and tried installing grub to that making it the boot drive but this made the installer crash for Mint and Ubuntu. It may still be possible somehow, but even so I don't think I would trust it.
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Konaan
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

When I used the Ubuntu alternate installer, I was able to install grub to a 500MB partition on all 5 drives set up as a raid 1. That is the only raid that I have seen supported. The rest of each drive was set up as a raid 5 and worked perfectly. I have to believe it can be done. Maybe just not Mint....at least at this time.

I do appreciate you trying to see if you can figure out though you said this wasn't your typical setup.

I am getting close to calling this "solved" even though I haven't accomplished what I truly wanted. I rebuilt my machine again yesterday using the *gasp* fakeRAID. It isn't the most efficient, but it gives me what I am wanting. Lets see what happens when one of those drives fail. lol Once I wear out these 80GB drives, I have many more drives all the way up to the 2TB range and things will get easier. Besides, I am learning more every day I use Mint (and other distros). That is the whole point right? :)

Anyone else feel free to put out ideas. The installation of grub really is the only setback for me.
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by MintyFresh22 »

Hi Konaan,

I don't think you can have a raid boot in mint, I spent a looong time trying! I have a raid1 setup but my 1gb boot volume is not part of the raid. If the first disk fails the 2nd contains a copy and is also bootable*. The mdraid volume (499Gb) becomes available late on in the boot as does another pair of disks containing Windows on a fakeraid. That said I did not find the Ubuntu alternate installer so I've learned something today thanks.

My arrangement is not great but it's the best I've managed to find and boy was it complex to set up compared to my windows bootable fakeraid.

I've recently bought an adaptec hardware raid 6405 card off ebay for peanuts and I'm experimenting with that. Hardware raid should be bootable.

*Note to self: check the boot volume copy is being updated!
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Re: Installing Mint 19.3 on Raid 5

Post by Konaan »

I have seen many posts that grub can be installed on Raid 1 , but that page you linked actually gave me some ideas to try. Thank you for this. I did not run across this page during my searches.

I also was looking at relatively inexpensive hardware raid cards yesterday. I didn't find one with enough good reviews to make me feel confident. I was looking for raid cards that supported Raid 0/1/5/jbod. i flip flop between configs depending on my mood and need at the time of the rebuild. I am not joking when I said I rebuild my computers constantly. It is how I learned MS-DOS and Windows back in 1991. I asked questions, I tried things, I broke things, I rebuilt with new knowledge. Have been doing that ever since. I probably spend as much time building my computers as I do actually USING them.
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