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When selecting a RAID card for a project, how can I ensure that it is well supported under Linux (Debian 6)?

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closed as not a real question by Shane Madden, Ward, Scott Pack, HopelessN00b, Zoredache Oct 4 '12 at 4:33

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Are you asking how to perform research, or are you asking how to determine if vendor "support" is real and worthwhile or half-hearted? – Charles Sep 11 '12 at 15:58
To be honest, I'm not really sure. Basically, A client of mine wants to use white-box hardware instead of the usual (Dell). I already know Dell RAID cards work with Linux. However, now that I have to build a server from scratch, I don't know how to tell if a given RAID card will be visible from the installer. Even when a vendor lists "Linux" support, that does not mean it's built-in to common distros from the get-go. – Soviero Sep 11 '12 at 16:01
Google. Oh, and prepare for the possibility that you may have to use a backported kernel; Debian stable is typically ancient, which is probably why you're using it. – Michael Hampton Sep 11 '12 at 16:07
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It happens that many (most? all?) of Dell's RAID cards are either rebranded LSI cards or based on chips produced by LSI. LSI cards are pretty good, as is their Linux support when using their preferred distros and kernel versions.

As was mentioned in comments, using an older kernel may cause you some significant issues. You're going to need to research each individual card on your short list and make sure it can run under Debian 6. For better or worse, it's using the same base kernel version as RHEL 6, 2011 vintage. It's not that old, but you may still have problems depending on what hardware support, if any, has been backported. Going with older generation hardware will help ensure things will work smoothly.

If you're trying to build a white-box server, one thing you could do is look at the components that white-box server vendors use. I'm not going to plug any of them here, as I happen to work for one and don't want to introduce bias. We happen to prefer LSI cards as well.

Another option, and again I'm not going to name names here, is to just go to a white-box vendor directly. Yes, you can do it yourself cheaper, but being able to consult sales and engineering resources that can help you pick the correct parts the first time is probably going to be worth it.

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It didn't take long to find Debian's list of supported RAID drivers. Unfortunately it's out of date, and seems to be a much shorter list than other distributions.

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