About the Server

Introduction

This is the first time I have ever purchased a desktop computer with reasonable good quality for me to do some testing and play around with some technologies. I will use this server as my virtualization platform as well as a normal NAS backup and media access server. Therefore, this series will all based on what I want to or have configured on this computer. Hopefully you can enjoy reading them.

Hardware

The computer is running on almost the latest platform when purchase (end of 2013 Q2), and it has the following hardware:

Because of the budget, I did not go for the Xeon processor and ECC memory. Of course part of the reason is that I am not running any mission critical system nor have a high CPU load all the time. I did not choose i7-4770K simply because it does not support inter VT-d, which is critical if you want to run virtualization in a high performance. The motherboard I chose is more about reliability, and the Sabertooth is the one with relatively better reliability and reasonable price.

Hard drive is limited because of the PC case I chose, which supports only two 3.5” HDD and has a place for four 2.5” HDD. SSD is not in the consideration because the budget and the reality that I am trying to build a RAID on the system, and I does not that crazy performance. 750 Watt of power supply is pretty much enough for this configuration even with two more middle-level VGA card installed later. I did not choose any VGA card because I don’t really need them. I think I may need them in the future if I want to do some brute force testing or other GPU related calculation.

System Design & Software

At this time, there is no popular distribution that can well support the Intel Z87 chipset. I was trying to use CentOS 6.4, however got a kernel panic when it was trying to load the installer. I was trying to boot Fedora 18 as well, however, failed with no display after the Fedora logo been loaded. Therefore I have to go for my favourite Linux distribution Arch Linux, as it is distributed with latest packages which will likely to support Z87 chipset motherboard. Later post will confirm that Arch Linux does work.

I am trying to have the following hard drive configuration:

Of course with Arch Linux you will not get a click-and-ready graphical installer help you with RAID, package or even boot loader, you will have to do all of them by yourself. It gives you freedom, and as always, more freedom means more trouble for people who do not know too much and just want to easily configure a system and use it. In later post I will explain how will I install Arch Linux and how do I configure it to meet my needs.

Summary

There is no more things I can discuss for now without the server installed and running. So please just wait for my future posts and I will explain how and why I configure the system in a way that I think it is appropriate. If you find anything you do not understand or you think I am wrong, or you think some concept can be explained in a better and clearer way, just email me and I will be very happy to discuss with any doubt you may have.