Ask Klaus!

Asus Motherboard

Question:

I have an Asus motherboard with a JMicron controller and two hard drives on RAID 0. When I try to install Debian, it only sees the drives separately. I've searched the forums – lots of people have this issue – and I was unable to find an answer. I'd like to know whether it's possible to install Debian on motherboards with this controller when using RAID.

Answer:

As far as I found out, your JMicron controller is a "SoftRAID" controller, which needs help from the operating system in the form of a driver to join multiple disks together as one large drive, as in RAID 0. Therefore, either you would need a specialized driver for this controller (i.e., a kernel module for Linux) or you would need to avoid using the SoftRAID function of the controller at all and switch to the better-supported software-only RAID instead. A real hardware RAID controller would automatically handle disks that have been defined as a RAID array by firmware/BIOS setup (independent of the running operating system), and the disks configured this way would always act as a single disk.

This means you cannot, or at least should not (because of possible data loss), install a dual-boot system with one operating system supporting SoftRAID (as opposed to software RAID) and the other seeing two separate disks.

If you want ONLY to run GNU/Linux with this controller, you can use software RAID to first partition two similar drives identically and then join their space via software RAID provided by the distribution's installation program.

Domain on Linux

Question:

I was wondering if you could help me on how to set up a domain on Linux. I am running Fedora Core 6 (which is the server) with all server packages installed, and I was wondering how you would be able to set one up because I am having a few difficulties making one.

Answer:

I'm unsure whether you mean a DNS (Domain Name System, Internet standard) or a Windows "Domain."

In the DNS case, you have to run a nameserver grouping IP addresses of computers in a private domain name (such as host1.mydomain.local, host2.mydomain.local, etc.). Explaining how DNS works is surely beyond the scope of a simple answer, you can find more help at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name_system.

For a Windows Domain, you need to run a Samba server (including the NetBIOS name service component), which defines mappings between IP addresses and a Windows "Domain name." Samba is configured via the configuration file /etc/samba/smb.conf. The Samba network service, which is traditionally used for sharing disk drives and printers, as well as user authentication data between computers running Linux and Windows, has its main homepage with all links to relevant information at http://www.samba.org/.

New Distro

Question:

Greetings Klaus: I have two similar, but not identical, nVidia 680 motherboards, about two years old. On Live CD boot of the later distros (SUSE 11.1, the last two versions of Ubuntu, and now Knoppix 6 and 6.1), there appears to be a long slowdown on the sata_nv module during boot, causing these installers to find no SATA hard drive on either machine (no RAID on either box). What I've tried from forum speculators: jumpering the SATA drive to 1.5Gbps and defaulting the motherboard BIOS settings, pci=nomsi, brokenmodules=sata_nv, and sata_nv adma=0.

I don't need to tell you I can't install anything new on these mobos, and XFX (the nVidia brand) doesn't support this trouble. Yikes – I thought newer kernels were more compatible with recent hardware.

Answer:

I have no better solution for this yet, other than replacing the computer with one with a working Linux-compatible controller as a warranty case (I know, probably not an option), waiting for newer kernels to fix the problem, trying a kernel with generic AHCI SATA support, or trying different boot options that can change interrupt handling on SATA, such as pci=bios, acpi=off, noapic, and nolapic.

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