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Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Hardware advice for the tree-hugging hacker

canistel writes: I am looking to replace my current "workstation" with new hardware... the new hardware must be quiet, fast, and efficient, in that order. I have most of the hardware lined up, but I need advice on two pieces: the storage, and the sound.

For storage, I was thinking on buying 4 to 6 laptop hardrives (spinning at 5400 rpm) and using the linux software raid, in striping mode (raid 0). I reinstall quite often, and perform daily backups so I am not concerned about what happens when a drive fails. Here, I am targeting performance with low power usage. I don't care about disk space: 80 to 100 GB total usable space will be plenty; I have a large external drive for my very rarely used sound / video files which I turn on whenever needed.

For sound, I would like to purchase a sound card that has an amplified output port, so that I can plug in some cheap, non-amplified speakers and put them on my desk. It doesn't have to be high quality, I just want to be able to hear the odd beeps and pings that my OS throws at me, without having to leave my high quality, but also high power usage amplified speakers turned on, all day, every day. However, I do watch the odd movie here and there, so a "real" line-out is also required. My old yamaha opl3sax could do this quite well, so I know they were, at least at one time, out there...

So my questions are, am I on the right track with 6 laptop harddrives connected in raid 0? How will that compare (roughly) in performance, to say 2 — 4 desktop harddrives with a raid controller? Is software raid effective for a scenario like this? Are there any good tools to configure (software) raid in linux? Is there any better way of getting (close to) insane speed out of a storage system, without breaking the bank (both in initial cost and in power usage)? And lastly, does such a sound card exist for a modern mainboard (pci, pci express), and where could I purchase it?

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