Is it possible to enable a Linux or OpenSolaris based server to process standard unix login requests without spinning up the hard drive holding the root partition?
I have a Nexenta-based (1) server that uses a very old 40GB PATA drive for the root partition which could not reside in the main storage array (nor would I want it to, though it does back up to it). It performs well because everything that actively accesses storage uses the SATA raid2z array. This means that the root partition itself is actually completely inactive and the 40GB disk is usually left asleep.
Or rather, almost completely inactive. Login requests require the drive to spin up, causing both annoying login delays and unnecessary strain on this old drive which could otherwise remain completely dormant.
As far as I can tell, the drive is only accessed to read the passwd and shadow files, and I'm surprised that these do not remain cached in memory after first being read and thereafter unmodified. Is it possible to explicitly keep them cached, relocate them elsewhere, or otherwise prevent the root partition from having to spin up? (2)
- For those unfamiliar, Nexenta is a variant of Ubuntu that uses the OpenSolaris kernel and tool chain while supporting the Debian tool chain as much as possible. For the most part, I have access to the capabilities of both.
- Please note that I do not consider a suitable solution anything that breaks logins or bootup when the storage array is not present.