Ordered an Adaptec 1420SA RAID card for my Debian Squeeze media server but didn't check to see if it was compatible, turns out it's not because it uses something called hostRAID which requires special drivers that aren't available for Debian. Could I still use the card as an ordinary controller and just use OS software RAID??

I'm not looking for speed, just need to mirror some drives that will be used for storage, the OS will reside on a disk connected to the server's onboard controller so the system won't be booting from any drives on the Adaptec controller.

  • Not sure whether it will be recognized without raid or not work at all, but you could try tracking down the kernel version that the redhat driver is built against and using the redhat driver.
    – DerfK
    Jun 15, 2011 at 21:43
  • It's possible to build one for Fedora and I'm sure, with enough persistence, one could get the drivers built for Debian, all it requires is time which I'm in short supply of lately!!
    – cian1500ww
    Jun 16, 2011 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


You still should be able use the 1420SA at least as a usual SATA controller - it's driving chip (Marvell 88SX6541-BCZ) is supported by the kernel.

Even in "host raid" (aka fakeraid) mode you might check out if you can get dmraid to work with it, but usually it is not worth the trouble. You perfectly could set up a redundant md device and write the bootloader to both disks (I believe this is even supported by the Debian text installer) to achieve a very similar result with standard Linux tools which are independent from the storage controller.

  • +1, fakeraid will not use an RAID configuration from the BIOS, but generally shows up as the basic drives as you point out.
    – Chris S
    Jun 15, 2011 at 22:19
  • 1
    dmraid is what's "using the RAID configuration from the BIOS" at this point. It may or may not work with the given Adaptec controller - just something to try if there's enough interest and time.
    – the-wabbit
    Jun 16, 2011 at 6:59
  • I'll give dmraid a go to see if it works, thanks for your help!!
    – cian1500ww
    Jun 16, 2011 at 19:15

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