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Parts List

The hardware for this do-it-yourself project is shown in Table 1. To keep this project simple, there are only two hardware options: the default configuration with the motherboard's built-in 10/100 Ethernet, and a secondary configuration with gigabit Ethernet. If you're a good shopper, you may be able to beat my cost, especially if you use a retired computer that's just gathering dust in your closet.

By way of comparison, Buffalo Technology's 1TB TeraStation is selling on the web for around $650 and the "Pro" version is about $230 more.

  Component Cost
RAID Controller LSI Logic MegaRAID i4 (ATA) $80 to $160 on
CPU Sempron 2200+ $59 (for 2600+; 2200+ is no longer available)
Motherboard ECS 741GX-M $110
Running at 266 MHz
Power Supply CoolerMaster RS-450-ACLX 450W $80
Ethernet 1 100 MB on ECS 741GX-M - (included in motherboard)
Ethernet 2 32 bit 10/100/1000
Hard Drives 4 300 Gigabyte 7200 ATA IDE 4 x $105 = $420
Case Cheapest @ CompUSA $30
CD ROM to Boot ASUS 52x $10
OS Ubuntu 6.06 Desktop $0
Total System Cost $829 - 928
Table 1

For this project, the most important thing to be sure of is that the motherboard does not mask interrupt 19. Masking interrupt 19 prevents the <Ctrl>+M keystroke from starting the MegaRAID firmware. If you have a motherboard that blocks interrupt 19, you have to boot the computer to an OS close enough to MS-DOS to allow LSI Logic's megaraid.exe program to run. (The megaraid.exe program starts the firmware in the MegaRAID card, which then allows you to manage your disk array.) This is annoying to do when you are working on a machine for several hours, so a motherboard that does not block interrupt 19 is highly recommended.

The RAM for this system is 512 MB of DDR400 SDRAM running at 266 MHz. The ECS motherboard theoretically supports 333 MHz, but I've never been able to get memory to run that fast on this board. The power supply is a 450 watt CoolerMaster model. A power level of 450 W is more than is needed - each of my drives draws about 9 watts of power - but because you are building a RAID 5 array, you will need a lot of power connectors. A 450 W supply usually has the two extra power connectors cables needed for a 4 drive array.

I used Ubuntu 6.06 because it installs beautifully. My favorite build of Linux is ClarkConnect, but it would not install on the LSI Logic MegaRAID i4 controller. This is because ClarkConnect is based on Fedora 4, which pulled support for the MegaRAID i4 cards last year.

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