“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”
Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Dismantling Ubuntu RAID Array


It was just over two years ago that I setup a home-made RAID storage server with 2.2 Terabytes of storage using Ubuntu. Now as we prepare to leave for Romania, the RAID has come to an end – and the accumulated data (~1TB) is being offloaded to a new laptop computer and some external hard drives.

Software RAID Works

This gave me an opportunity to test how the RAID would perform under faulty conditions – as if one of the hard drives failed. I first tried to remove one of the drives from the array in a legitimate way – but that didn’t seem to work – I got some error message about the device being busy (even though it was unmounted). So I opened up the chassis and pulled up one of the drives. I turned the computer back on and sure enough the RAID array was still working. It was in a “degraded” mode – meaning that if another hard drive would fail – the RAID array would fail and data would be lost. But sure enough, if one hard drive were to fail it would be very easy to pull it out and replace it with another hard drive (even if it took some time to acquire a new hard drive).

So if you have large volumes of data that you want to keep safe, software RAID on Ubuntu is an excellent solution for you. I was much more at ease knowing my data was on a RAID array instead of being on a single hard-drive that may fail and take all of my information with it. At the time I built my array 750GB drives were considered large – today there are much larger capacity drives you could use to create an even bigger capacity. All you need is to be a little picky with hardware that will let you pool together a number of drives and  you are set.

Easier & Easy To Install

When I setup the array I had to learn to use some command line tools to get the job done. Over the last 2 years Ubuntu has matured greatly and it now has a graphic software utility that lets  you create & manage a software RAID with ease – much easier then it was two years ago.

Here you can see the main screen of the disk utility – with the RAID device selected. You may notice the red”DEGRADED” indicator which was displayed after I removed one of the 4 hard drives from the array.

Here you can see the 3 remaining hard drives with very easy to use options for extending the array size and adding a spare drive. The option for removing a component didn’t work for me – but the drive was automatically removed from the array once I physically removed it.

And this is what the create array screen looks like after I dismantled my array. You can see that the 3 remaining drives are available and can be selected and created into a new Array. This saves a lot of hassle that was required 2 years ago to create the array using command line utilities.


Over the last two years Ubuntu has become my primary operating system. The computer that was meant to be my storage server became my primary computer and I slowly shifted to using all open-source tools on Ubuntu. I am writing this post from a new laptop computer (more on that in a coming soon post) which was installed from day one with Ubuntu. I am thrilled to be free from the clutches of Microsoft and other commercial software manufacturers. Freedom feels great.

This entry was posted in Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff. You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

One Comment

  1. Jakub Janak
    Posted September 2, 2014 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    Can I ask which version of Ubuntu were you using back than, that had a disk utility with sw raid capabilities? Ubuntu obviously dropped such functions from the disk utility in the latest releases (14.04) Thanks!

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