Boron has been running Fedora since it was intitally built several years ago. It has suffered from frequent problems all the time it has been in use, and recently I gave up and have gone for something more solid and stable – Ubuntu.
I have trialled Ubuntu on my second workstation, which doesn’t see that much action at the moment since I have to manually swap DVI and USB cables to control it. What impressed me the most was the distribution upgrade, which was seemless. Compare this to Fedora where upgrading requires downloading the new DVDs, hacking the repositories list and praying that as little as possible ends up broken after the upgrade. The Fedora kernel package seemed to break something at each minor upgrade too, something which Ubuntu doesn’t seem to have too much of a problem with so far (with the debian tradition of longer revision cycles).
While I was upgrading I thought I might as well add a bit more storage, so I’ve got yet another 500GB SATA drive and plugged it in. The recently replaced power supply is now a must-have to power all of the drives in the system (4 SATA, 1 IDE, 1 DVD, 1 LTO1 SCSI). After Ubuntu was up and running, the new drive and one of the existing drives were converted to hold 1 Linux RAID partition each then these were put in JBOD mode (aka concatenation/linear mode) for a total of 1TB of storage. This configration isn’t fault tollerant, though data loss is minimised to just the disk that dies (after some major fsck’ing), but all it’s holding are videos, music and photos. Photos are backed up daily to tape. I’m hoping this configuration will allow for expansion by just plugging in another disk, adding it to the RAID set and expanding the ext3 volume within the RAID virtual device.
I was hoping that the change in distribution may solve some reliability issues that have arisen lately. Sometimes some of the SATA disks stop responding. However rather than a kernel configuration problem, I think it may be the controller cards or motherboard that are to blame. Replacing the motherboard would probably need an upgrade of processor and memory too, since S478 motherboards are a little hard to come by these days. I’m trying to be a little more conservative with my money next year (2008), so this doesn’t appeal to me too much. If push comes to shove, my second workstation could take over boron‘s job, but it’s not as energy efficient.