Xserve: Headless questions

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited January 2014
I am building 5 Xserves right now. I have a configuration issue. :0)



Two of the servers will have both PCI slots filled (Fiber and internal hardware RAID). Thus I have no slots left for video. I'm nervous. I not sure if not having a video card/KVM solution is a good idea. Im considering trading the internal RAID card for a video card for rack KVM.



I wanted to get a RAID card so I can mirror my boot/system, drive (no data, it's all on external RAIDs). Now I'm considering using a software RAID instead of a hardware RAID to get back a slot for the video card. Any thoughts on this?



I don't understand why Apple can't have a crappy onboard 32 MB video chipset on the main board like most 1U vendors. Any ideas on this? Why does a video card have to be such a big issue. Heck, the card is only ~ $70.00 anyway. Why not build it on the mobo?



I know I don't really need a video card if I use ARD, SSH and WGM/Server Admin, etc. But you never know; there may be a time when I really really really need to be able to "see" the computer. Has anyone been through the same decision process I am going through?



Do you guys trust Apples software RAID for server system/boot drives? Any advise is helpful.



I'm not sure I trust ARD enough to go "headless". I would hate to be in a situation where SSH, ARD and WGM don't quite do what I need, and I'm screwed! :0)



Is it risky to go headless? Is it more risky to go with a software RAID for my systems?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    Quote:

    Do you guys trust Apples software RAID for server system/boot drives? Any advise is helpful.



    Mac OS X cant boot off a RAID device, which is one reason why I prefer Linux for servers.



    WIth regard to the headless issue, I really dont think it would cause a problem not having a video card. Aside from the fact that you've got an abundance of tools at your disposal for admin (Apples Server Admin, SSH, ARD etc) you can also do a complete OS wipe & restore without a video card over the network if something drastic were to happen. I honestly dont envisage a situation where a video card would become an absolute necessity.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    dstranathandstranathan Posts: 1,715member
    OS X can boot off of RAID devices (both hardware and software RAIDs) I have 8 servers that have either hardware or software RAIDs now.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    The real question is why would you want to have your boot drive be RAIDed? I can completely understand RAIDing your data drives, but the boot drive? Just have a hot spare periodically synced with your boot drive. Whenever you make a configuration change, re-sync the spare drive.



    A mirror with one drive down is so slow that for a boot drive the array has effectively failed anyways, and if something bad gets written, then a mirror is not going to help (but an off-line backup drive is only a boot away). And if you need to stripe your boot drive, then you have bigger issues.



    RAIDing your boot drive is almost always a waste of resources. The fact that MacOS X can boot off them is pointless.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    dstranathandstranathan Posts: 1,715member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Karl Kuehn

    The real question is why would you want to have your boot drive be RAIDed? I can completely understand RAIDing your data drives, but the boot drive? Just have a hot spare periodically synced with your boot drive. Whenever you make a configuration change, re-sync the spare drive.



    A mirror with one drive down is so slow that for a boot drive the array has effectively failed anyways, and if something bad gets written, then a mirror is not going to help (but an off-line backup drive is only a boot away). And if you need to stripe your boot drive, then you have bigger issues.



    RAIDing your boot drive is almost always a waste of resources. The fact that MacOS X can boot off them is pointless.




    Hardware RAIDS are not slow.



    A RAID is better than a sync in situations when you need INSTANT failover, as opposed to manually dropping a synched backup into place and rebooting



    I agree about the issue with system corruption. If you have a bad system update, for example, then its on 2 drives instead of one drive, but a spare sync can be reverted back to in case you need to "retreat" from a bad update. Once the update is proven, then you can resync again. Good idea. Question; Why not do both? Have a RAIDED system mirror AND a synched spare?
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