I have an HP Proliant Microserver Gen8 and I want to install CentOS 7 on it, to run a Samba server. I've bought two 3TB HDDs for the storage. The OS should be separated from the storage HDDs. So my question is, if it is a good idea to install the OS on a USB drive or Micro SD card?

  • Why not just partition the drives with 50GB for /, 50GB for swap, and the rest for data? – kasperd Sep 17 '15 at 17:33
  • Will you be using a hardware RAID controller on this Microserver? – ewwhite Sep 17 '15 at 18:42
  • @ewwhite Yes, the b120i RAID controller. – Andreas Zock Sep 17 '15 at 18:45
  • Why not. vSphere solutions use this scenario often. In vSphere case it's always better to redirect all logs to the remote syslog server - frequent writing to SD card may cause its corruption. Maybe it's a good point for the consideration. – Stepan Vrany Sep 18 '15 at 15:48

I don't think USB flash drives and SD cards use wear leveling like normal SSDs. And standard operating systems write often - to logs, various system databases etc. This can cause that your USB/SD system drive will fail after some time.

There's a filesystem which use wear leveling, F2FS, but it's not very mature and I don't think CentOS supports installing to F2FS partition.

You can also configure PXE network boot, but it would be much more complicated than simply installing OS to some partition on your HDDs. It would also require another server to provide OS image.

I'd recommend against it. I prefer software RAID than so called fakeRAID on inexpensive motherboard, so I'd make:

  • 8GB partition on both drives configured as software RAID1 1GB for /;
  • 1GB partition on both drives, both as swap partitions;
  • the rest as software RAID1 on both drives as data.

Use the Intelligent Provisioning (Press F10) feature of this server to upgrade its firmware and gain access to the HP Smart Storage Administrator utility (HP SSA).

  • Create a RAID array of your two 3TB drives.
  • Create a Logical Drive of a size appropriate for your OS (I prefer 72GB).
  • Create another logical drive that fills the rest of the drive array.

That's all you'll need to do. There's no real benefit to using USB or SDHC boot for this.

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