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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 28 Oct 2011

Thinking out of the server box: HP ProLiant MicroServer

By way of Planet Debian, I found Vincent Sanders' article on the HP ProLiant MicroServer he bought for use at home instead of a dedicated NAS appliance.

This is by no means a blade server. It's a squat little box. And the HP ProLiant MicroServer line starts at .

Here are general specs from HP:

What's new

  • Faster processor -- AMD Turion II Neo 1.5GHz
  • Choice of preinstalled OS's includes Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

Features

Simple to Own and Easy to Use

  • Server performance but at a PC price
  • Designed to make adding drives or peripherals a minimal effort
  • At a 22 dBA noise level, it is quiet for ergonomic working environment
  • Space-saving; ideal for the small office

Proven HP Dependability and Support

  • HP has built a reputation of dependability by conducting some of the most rigorous and thorough testing in the industry
  • System testing and process control ensures only the most dependable products for the customers
  • Worldwide network of HP trained service

Reliability and Expandability

  • Error checking and correction (ECC) memory minimizes the likelihood of memory corruption
  • RAID 0, 1 prevents data loss and ensures around the clock reliability
  • Up to four LFF SATA pluggable hard disks and up to 8 GB of RAM

That's pretty interesting. It's small, all right. The ECC memory is very server-ish. And not everybody wants or has a rack set up to stuff a server into. This can sit on a table or shelf somewhere.

While there is a model, the best deal seems to be the version with double the RAM (2 GB). The system ships with a smallish 250 GB drive, but the whole point is that you can buy drives for the four bays and just plug 'em in.

Vincent bought his HP box to run Debian, which is what I'd be doing. The HP PDF lists the following as "supported" OSes:

  • Microsoft Windows 2008 Standard Edition R2
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

It doesn't say which versions of RHEL will run, but I imagine that 5.x and 6.x are good to go. And if it runs Debian Squeeze, it will probably run a current Ubuntu release as well.

Looking back at Vincent's original article, he has what looks to me like a somewhat complicated RAID setup for his four 2 TB drives, with 1 GB of ext2 in RAID 1 across four drives for /boot, ext3 with LVM in RAID 5 for the rest of the data, plus a small partition at the beginning for GRUB. I'm a little bit hazy on exactly how one does this.

He cites reports of reliability problems in ext4 as a reason for choosing ext3 for the big RAID partition. I'm running ext3 with LVM in my Debian Squeeze laptop, and it has been 100 percent solid.

I really need to read up on RAID and configuring Linux servers with RAID and LVM ...