Ah, You Need The Deluxe Version, Sir!

The amount of music digitally stored in this house grows apace.  The storage devoted to pictures ditto, especially since Small Daughter has taken an interest in photography (and has a pretty good eye for a well-composed shot too).  Thus a young geek’s fancy turns to thoughts of additional disks.

Since I have a brother employed by a computer dealership (actually, they do lots of other things as well, but they deal in components and PCs and all that), one short IM conversation orders me a matched pair of 120Gb drives – slower ones to save money, since they’re not for any use that requires the ultimate in speed and I’m far too old to go through that my-system-is-100ms-faster-than-your-system stuff.  These will form a RAID1 pair.  So, in anticipation of delivery, I ponder the question of where they go – in the XP Pro desktop server, or the Linux server.

Which is when I look up RAID in the XP help for Disk Management.  And discover that (and I quote): You can create mirrored volumes only on computers running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.  Hmph[1].  Actually, it’s one of those facts that I knew, somewhere in the depths of the back of my head, but had forgotten until I read it.  And I’m pretty sure I said “Hmph” the first time I saw it.

Now, as I’ve pointed out before, I have no real issue with the Demons That Infest Redmond; they have their products, sometimes I uses them, sometimes I doesn’t.  There is no ideology here, just practicality.  But this sort of markety-feature-bullet-list thing annoys me – is there any good reason why a home user would run one of their expensive Server OSs?  No, not really.  Is there any good reason why a home user would want a decent mirrored or RAID setup?  Well, yes, surely.  Then why the blinkin’ flip doesn’t XP Pro (and this is XP Pro, not the neutered Home version) support mirroring?

Of course, I could do the mirroring in hardware, using SCSI, if I wanted to spend more money and have a more complex setup, sure.  Only I use IDE disks everywhere and they get traded around between machines fairly often.  However, I have a better solution.  Into the Redhat Linux server they will go; software-mirrored and served via Samba.  None of the Windows machines will care, it’s all network storage anyway and I’m left with another fact to consider when balancing the choice of OS for storage servers.

But it still annoys me.  It’s the sort of spread-the-features-over-the-product-range phenomenon you see in cars; do you buy the Ford Escort L, LX, Ghia, Popular?  Each has a different set of bells and whistles carefully selected by marketroids to form a suite of product options to enhance consumer choice.  Or something.  And the open-source approach tends to take the other point of view – you get everything in the one package.  Everything, even stuff you probably won’t ever need.  Hey, you get MySQL and PostgreSQL!  You get four different web server frameworks!  And at least ten different languages whether or not you call Perl a language!

And, naturalmente, you get software RAID.  Para mi, elegir es fácil.

[1] The Hmph is at the fact, of course, not the redundant comma before the “or”, or the spelling of “center”.

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