My conversion of a DX4000 to Ubuntu Server

I am officially now trying to get ubuntu on this. After 3 attempts of a working recovery connection and getting error 0x80070002 each time I am moving on.
I have made the connections to J23 and placed a permanent mini-USB port on the back.

TTL-to-USB adapter stuck to rear of display cover with double-sided tape

cable routed to rear of case

Port on rear

With this, I was able to now see the BIOS screen and I followed these videos to start my install, but I want to store the OS directly on the drives so I am currently trying my first install right now. I will post back when I get further along.

I recommend that you install the OS to a separate 5th SATA drive, rather than the drives that are part of the Raid array.

The pads for the connector for the 5th drive are right there in the left rear corner of the board viewed from the front of the unit. It’s a bit tricky, but you can install a SATA connector there and connect up to a 2.5" SATA SSD that you can mount along the side next to the main 3.5" drives. Then you just need to locate +5V to power the drive.

This is the preferred topology for a Raid 5 system. Make a backup (not on the Raid) of the boot drive. Anything goes wrong with the boot drive, data is safe on the main Raid array. Just replace the boot drive and restore the backup boot image.

B.

Is this location on the motherboard? is it the one labeled J11?

Yes, that’s the one. It’s easiest to use a right-angle SATA cable so that the cable angles downward. I mounted a 2.5" SATA SSD on the other side of the enclosure in the open area on the side. Then I ran a small cable from the +5V available on J2 next to the dimm memory connector.

Great… I found your other post on all the other connectors. With all this info I am totally moving this a Linux box. I have been playing around with lcdproc to get the lcd to display information but I have some more work to do on that front. The documentation on it is not the best for a non programmer. But I will get there. Working with the default customized OS is finicky and with MS removing hot fixes from their servers makes it even harder. For what I intend to use this box for I think this will be my best path.

Ordered the SATA connector, and a pin header for the VGA, a small ssd and by end of next week I should have a much more user friendly box. Especially if I get the VGA working.

I already have upgraded the ram to 4gb. So after this not much else will have to be done. With the OS on the SSD and the drives as raid 5 should be a nice box for a me.

Any thoughts on software RAID vs hardware?

The LCD is connected to the SuperIO chip, specs for which are available online. It is using the Hitachi LCD protocol. Pretty straight forward. The SuperIO chip also runs the cooling fan under purely OS software control. That is, the bios does absolutely nothing to control the CPU and drive temperatures. The fan just runs at max speed until an OS driver takes over. The fan is connected to the SuperIO SysFan control pin. There are several more fan outputs on the SuperIO that are not used. Ideally, software should monitor both the CPU temp and the drive temps via SMART cmds and control the fan speed appropriately.

The VGA output is pretty murky looking, but infinitely more serviceable than trying to install an OS the WD way.

There are PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports on the SuperIO and I have hooked them up, but it stretched my rework/soldering skills way past being worth it. If you hook up the two extra USB2 ports, you can connect the mouse and keyboard there. It’s way easier than trying to get the PS/2 ports working. Otherwise you’re always fighting with not having enough ports for USB stick, USB mouse and USB keyboard. Not as critical for a Linux install, but really frustrating for any GUI install.

As for software vs hardware RAID, the distinction is a bit subtle. It mostly has to do with what else besides reading/writing the individual RAID drives, the CPU is doing. If you setup the DX4000 with no additional loads beyond the RAID itself, I would argue that IS a hardware RAID. It’s when you start loading down the CPU with a bunch of other stuff (ie Plex server, transcoding, torrent client, etc, etc) that it devolves into what I would call software RAID and the RAID performance suffers. The DX4000 box with nothing more to do than manage the RAID, can nearly saturate a Gigabit Ethernet link. Can’t expect more than that.