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Old 07-25-05, 04:21 PM   #1
psycle
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Post nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Hi, i'm unable to find any information concerning the support for nforce3's raid controler on linux.
Maybe the answer is simply it's not supported, but if that's the case, i'd like to see it told clearly so i don't spend days reading pointless documentation and installing pointless drivers (like nvnet and nvsound).

Regards,

-- Some customer who already lost too much of his precious time to get it work.
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Old 07-25-05, 06:03 PM   #2
psycle
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

replying to myself...

i'm able to at least read the content of my existing nforce3 raid using:

dmraid -a y
mount -o ro /dev/mapper/nvidia_ebdheagb<X> /mnt/foo
(where X is a partition number)
i'd like to know if it's safe to mount it read&write

Also, i wonder why this dmraid isn't properly documented on nvidia's site since it's a very valuable software for suporting nividia's hardware on linux.
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Old 07-25-05, 09:56 PM   #3
JaXXoN
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycle
i'd like to know if it's safe to mount it read&write
Since you are able to read from the array, then obviously the
stripe size and geometry has been detected correctly. So technically
writing should work as well, but you should better first try that
out with a spare partition and make sure that you have a backup
of all your important files :-)

regards

Bernhard
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Old 07-26-05, 01:20 PM   #4
steven4064
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

I have a similar problem - I have just built a Linux system (Fedora Core 4) and installed the system on a RAID 1 array. However, I have had to disable the RAID because the system will not boot from it. I think I probably need a driver for Linux. Any ideas?
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Old 07-27-05, 01:31 AM   #5
thelinux
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycle
Hi, i'm unable to find any information concerning the support for nforce3's raid controler on linux.
Maybe the answer is simply it's not supported, but if that's the case, i'd like to see it told clearly so i don't spend days reading pointless documentation and installing pointless drivers (like nvnet and nvsound).

Regards,

-- Some customer who already lost too much of his precious time to get it work.
nvidia raid is not a complete hardware based raid unlike high end raid controller. It needs a software driver to work properly. Of course there is a driver for windows but not for linux I think. So if you enable raid in bios and hope linux think it as a raid array, you are wrong.

Instead you can use completely software based raid which comes with linux. http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/l...ware-raid.html
with this software based raid, you dont need any raid hardware. You can even create a raid using multiple IDE HDDs.
So, disable raid option in the bios (just install your hard disks as if you are going to use it in non-raid normal mode) and when you install fedora, follow the direction shown on the link above.

I havent done this yet (but I will soon). However, I did some research to do it and this is what I found out. Now I need to know if there is a linux driver for onboard nforce 4 ATA controller which can make it perform in ATA II mode.

Last edited by thelinux; 07-27-05 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 07-27-05, 05:42 PM   #6
JaXXoN
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thelinux
nvidia raid is not a complete hardware based raid unlike high end raid controller
BTW.: good hardware RAID controllers are typically three to four times
more expensive than an average mainboard with integrated "RAID
controller" - you get what you pay for :-)

Quote:
It needs a software driver to work properly. Of course there is a driver for windows but not for linux I think. So if you enable raid in bios and hope linux think it as a raid array, you are wrong.
The situation is that if the kernel knows the strip size, the RAID mode and the
partition boundaries, then its software RAID driver can very well
handle "foreign" RAID sets such as nvidia RAID. This required
information is stored in so called meta-data blocks somewhere
on the drives which "mdraid" is capable to handle. The following
"fake-raid controllers" are supported by mdraid:

* Highpoint HPT37X
* Highpoint HPT45X
* Intel Software RAID
* LSI Logic MegaRAID
* NVidia RAID
* Promise FastTrack
* Silicon Image(tm) Medley(tm)
* VIA Software RAID

However, the problem is that the kernel itself can't recoginze
"foreign" RAID sets. Only mdraid can do so. So in order to
be able to boot from a "foreign" RAID set, you would need an
initial RAMdisk including mdraid to make sure that the MD device
is available once the kernel likes to mount the root filesystem.
It should even be possible to load then kernel and the initial ramdisk
with the GRUB bootloader form a "foreign" RAID set, because at that
time the BIOS read/write functions are used and that should
certainly work. However, i don't thing any of the recent
Linux Distributions can handle "foreign" RAID set during installation.
I guess you would first need to install everything on a spare drive,
then manually setup the RAID set, copy the stuff over, create a
RAMdisk that invokes mdraid and finally setup GRUB.

regards

Bernhard
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Old 12-27-05, 03:09 AM   #7
fhj52
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaXXoN
[...snip...]
However, the problem is that the kernel itself can't recoginze
"foreign" RAID sets. Only mdraid can do so. So in order to
be able to boot from a "foreign" RAID set, you would need an
initial RAMdisk including mdraid to make sure that the MD device
is available once the kernel likes to mount the root filesystem.
It should even be possible to load then kernel and the initial ramdisk
with the GRUB bootloader form a "foreign" RAID set, because at that
time the BIOS read/write functions are used and that should
certainly work. However, i don't thing any of the recent
Linux Distributions can handle "foreign" RAID set during installation.
I guess you would first need to install everything on a spare drive,
then manually setup the RAID set, copy the stuff over, create a
RAMdisk that invokes mdraid and finally setup GRUB.

regards

Bernhard
Hi Bernhard:
This is the closest post/info I can find related to what I need to accomplish:
Four SATA150 disk RAID array for data; non-bootable RAID 10.
Two ATA disk RAID 1 bootable array for the Win2k-SP4+ and Linux 2.6.9-xx OS in a multiboot setup.

I have a Supermicro H8DCE mobo using the nVidia 2200 and 2050 chipsets. I have installed both OS separately and as multiboot so I know they will work.
I also setup a RAID 5 with the 4 SATA disks(actually 3disks+1spare) and it worked fine (until I killed it fooling around with the NV RAID BIOS setup...).

I setup the BIOS to use the NV RAID but did not install the software to complete the task. THAT was when I found out I got shafted: the so-called HW RAID known as Media Shield should be called Hardware Assisted RAID for Microsoft or HARM, for short. It certainly has HARMed me.
I thought it was HW RAID and as such it would run with any i86 OS. It's taken a while to figure out what to do. I considered sending the board back because nVidia, basically lied at the website describing Media Shield. ( A lie of omission is still a lie in my book. )

Anyway, for those partitions formatted with filesystem that both Win & Linux can use(FAT**), I want to be able to access data seemlessly. Also, if something goes wrong requiring a rebuild I don't want the other OS to choke when I boot into it. ( I have just now found out that fooling around with the NV RAID can kill Linux even if the NV RAID software is not fully installed so there is something going on between NV and Linux.)

As mentoned, I have setup a RAID 5 array for the SATA disks during an installation of the Linux OS onto the ATA drive but am still at the point of no data transferrred to them yet so they can be changed to RAID 10. RAID 10 is not an option during the Linux OS installation.( Not sure why but I have some ideas. )
Anyway, LVM and EVMS are available during the install and, IIRC, EVMS uses dmraid, BICBW.

If I understand what you have written here and elsewhere, Linux SW RAID is byte-by-byte on disc compatible with NV RAID so setting up Linux SW RAID 1 will be recognized accurately if I reboot into Win2k with the installed NV RAID drivers & setup for RAID 1. It will also handle the RAID 10 data disks as effectively.
I am not sure which OS to do first. I.e., NV RAID or Linux RAID. Or do we have to setup a Linux RAID at all? I do wish nVidia had a decent document on this. The little guide they have is really nice for Microsoft, as if the richest man in the world needs any help...

BTW, I'd use RAID 5 on the data disk array for both Linux & Win2k but apparently NV RAID 5 is not available for this mobo. My only choice for the boot disk array with redundancy is RAID 1(I only have two ATA disks).

Do you think I can accomplish that setup?


Ric
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Old 12-27-05, 10:48 AM   #8
JaXXoN
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fhj52
I am not sure which OS to do first. I.e., NV RAID or Linux RAID.
I suggest to try the following installation sequence:

1. Setup NVRAID in BIOS
2. Install Windows
3. Re-partition in order to get spare partitions for swap and root
4. Install a "NVRAID-aware" Linux-Distro

Step 4 is the yet unknow one :-) Looks like Gentoo is capable of
handling NVRAID partitions:

http://tienstra4.flatnet.tudelft.nl/~gerte/gen2dmraid/

Anyway, you may find additional information when searching
for "initrd dmraid" with google: dmraid must be invoked from
initrd to setup linux raid partitions according to the NVRAID
partition information (meta data) - at least that's the theory :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by fhj52
BTW, I'd use RAID 5 on the data disk array for both Linux & Win2k but apparently NV RAID 5 is not available for this mobo.
Means, you can't create a RAID5 set in the BIOS setup menu?
A BIOS update might help, however i currently can't recall if NVRAID
actually defines RAID5 (i.e. lie Silicon Image 3114 does).

regards

Bernhard
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Old 12-27-05, 11:00 AM   #9
JaXXoN
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Here is how to boot Fedora Core 4 using dmraid:

https://listman.redhat.com/archives/.../msg00027.html

Anyway, i guess you need to do the following installation sequence:

1. Setup NVRAID in BIOS
2. Install Windows
3. Re-partition in order to get spare partitions for swap and root
4. Install FC4 on a seperate hard drive
5. Boot FC4 from the seperate hard drive
6. Patch FC4 according to the link above and install a dmraid aware initrd
7. Reboot FC4. The NVRAID partitions should now be accessable
after boot since initrd should have invoked dmraid which in
turn sets up Linux RAID partitions according the the NVRAID meta data.
8. Copy the FC4 installation from the seperate hard drive to the
root parititions on the NVRAID set
9. Setup GRUB or the Windows Bootloader

good luck!

regards

Bernhard
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Old 12-27-05, 12:46 PM   #10
fhj52
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Hi, ,
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaXXoN
I suggest to try the following installation sequence:

1. Setup NVRAID in BIOS
2. Install Windows
3. Re-partition in order to get spare partitions for swap and root
4. Install a "NVRAID-aware" Linux-Distro
[...snip...]
Ok. And yes, dmraid is invoked from initrd. And it can work. I have done it and was in a testing phase for, then Mandrakesoft, when other things took precedence. I have not checked back ... it(dmraid in initrd) may or may not have been completed. There are not a whole lot of testers available for such a thing.
EVMS is done the same way(in initrd) for RAID and other disk storage management tasks. The status of EVMS in initrd was " we must get dmraid done first " and I don't know if EVMS has made improvements to the initrd setup they have or not.
Quote:
Means, you can't create a RAID5 set in the BIOS setup menu?
Striping, mirroring, mirror + stripe and spanning are all.
Quote:
A BIOS update might help, however i currently can't recall if NVRAID actually defines RAID5 (i.e. lie Silicon Image 3114 does).

regards

Bernhard
Yes, I thought that about the BIOS but life goes on and waiting for any manufacturer to make a BIOS update is not feasible, esp. for what they would consider an "enhancement" to the BIOS. Of course I'll check but will be breathing normally.
I'm not sure about the reference to SI. -? The RAID 5 is included in the latest HARM manual and it is presumably "defined" in the latest nforce4 software for MS platform.

Thank you for the input.
My body is currently running on mid-pacific time(~Hawaii) so I'll give this another look after the 2nd cafe.


Ric
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Old 12-27-05, 01:48 PM   #11
fhj52
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaXXoN
Here is how to boot Fedora Core 4 using dmraid:

https://listman.redhat.com/archives/.../msg00027.html

Anyway, i guess you need to do the following installation sequence:

1. Setup NVRAID in BIOS
2. Install Windows
3. Re-partition in order to get spare partitions for swap and root
4. Install FC4 on a seperate hard drive
5. Boot FC4 from the seperate hard drive
6. Patch FC4 according to the link above and install a dmraid aware initrd
7. Reboot FC4. The NVRAID partitions should now be accessable
after boot since initrd should have invoked dmraid which in
turn sets up Linux RAID partitions according the the NVRAID meta data.
8. Copy the FC4 installation from the seperate hard drive to the
root parititions on the NVRAID set
9. Setup GRUB or the Windows Bootloader

good luck!

regards

Bernhard
Well, I've only had a sip of the 2nd cup but, initially, my response is ' I don't think so ', .
Since I have this new system, I have been testing it with OS. CentOS 4 & 4.2 have worked beautifully for the brief time they were installed. Unbuntu 5.04 not so good as GrUB got whacked by Win2k install. I did Unbuntu 5.10(KDE version) last night and am very disappointed. I used (k)Unbuntu 5.04 earlier this year and liked it. The 5.10 seems to be a regression .... anyway, point being that Fedora is not on the list and even if it was, Holy Smokes that's a lot of twisting and turning... I hope there is a more direct way.
Besides, I only have the 2 PATA and 4 SATA, everything else is SCSI and this mobo does not have a SCSI controller,nor do I have a usable SCSI adapter for this mobo(I have one but it is full length(64-bit) PCI and there are not any of those slots on the H8DCE; ...).
... hmmm, I suppose I could install a bare version to a SCSI drive and then copy it over the LAN using scp ... still seems too hard. ( I'm lazy... )
So, if it is at all possible, I need to use one (empty) PATA to install the OS's with RAID 1 in a diminished format(missing the other drive), copy the rest of my files from the current PATA to the new PATA/RAID1 array and rebuild using the old PATA as the spare. I am pretty sure I can do that with dmraid but not so sure about NVRAID(HARM) or being able to set it up during install with either/both. I also am not sure about the rebuilding and data loss. The two PATA are identical Seagate drives(ST3160023A) so there should not be any translation problems. ...

I suppose that CentOS 4.x(=RHEL4.x) or even the new Mandrakesoft would be acceptable subs since they are both RedHat with different colored hats. I am pretty sure that EVMS setup is available in the CentOS install and if so, that should mean there is an initrd with the appropriate lines in it to get their dmraid running ... I'll have to check on that.

I have not looked at the link but will shortly. ( a few sips later...)

I truly appreciate your input and am especially glad to hear that you think it is possible to multiboot MS & Linux on a RAID array(i.e., I am not nuts to consider it, ).
I have given up on MS ever being a good OS but, realistically, cannot abandon it so I want to dual boot.
... There are other solutions but this is the one I chose to try. I had a Maxtor ATA drive ... short version: I don't have a good(large capacity) tape backup so RAID w/ redundancy is necessary.
I am trying to make a suitable work around for HARM so the mobo does not have to go back or spend hundreds more for a 1210/similar HW RAID card that would be overkill for me and my current needs/purposes. ( I don't purposedly kill the kernel like some people do. )



Ric
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Old 12-27-05, 02:18 PM   #12
fhj52
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Default Re: nforce3 raid controler on linux? yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaXXoN
[...snip...]
Looks like Gentoo is capable of
handling NVRAID partitions:

http://tienstra4.flatnet.tudelft.nl/~gerte/gen2dmraid/

[snip]regards

Bernhard
Wow. That sounds pretty cool, if I understood it correctly. I did not know such tasks could be accomplished with a Gentoo "Live" CD.
Most Live CD's run only from the CD and do not allow any changes to the system... kinda glad to hear that is changing for distro's since it can also provide a way to fix broken systems(the Knoppix Linux tools version never helped me much the one time I really needed it...).

I am going to google and look at docs for CentOS before Gentoo-ing as that would be AYA Linux configuration experience to learn and my brain can only handle so many before total confusion turns into frustration...


Ric
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