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Before we get started, go back and read the above Caveat section if you haven’t already. If you loose data or hose your system it’s on you.
Now, once you understand and have accepted the risks we can continue on with the pre-installation steps. This guide assumes you already have three or more drives installed on your system that aren’t being used for booting or running your system. If this is not the case, then you’ll need to rectify this before you are able to continue on below.
First off, we’ll need to install the multi-disk administrators tool, or mdadm.
To do so click on the Applications menu on the top left of your system and go down and select Ubuntu Software Center. In the search field here type in
wait a half-second or hit the Enter key and you should see a single entry for the tool to administer Linux MD arrays (software RAID). If so, click on the Install button, enter in your user password if prompted, and wait for it to finish (if you don’t get it, double check your spelling and make sure you haven’t transposed any letters).
During the installation, you’ll be prompted to setup Postfix Configuration, unless you know you’re using this select
from the drop down list and hit Forward. This should be all you need to do apart from waiting for the installation to complete.
Gnome Disk Utility
Now that we have mdadm, or the multi-disk administrator installed we can fire up our nice little Disk Utility tool and continue with the Pre-Installation steps for our RAID 5 setup.
Disk Utility can be found under the System and then Administration menu toward the very top of the list.
Once you have this handy-dandy application up and running you should see a screen similar to the one on right here. You’ll have different disks and controllers of course (different systems and all), but the general idea will be the same.
Take a few (or several) minutes here and get comfortable with the Disk Utility. Also, to be safe, you may wish to run the SMART tests on all the disks that you are planning to use for the RAID array (if not all of your disks).
Now, we have approached the point of no return, this is your last chance to turn back if you don’t have all your data backed up or if you might be in over your head.
If you’re still with me, and again, are happy to accept any consequences of moving ahead we will begin with formatting new partition tables on all of the drives that will be added to the RAID 5 array.
Select the first drive you’ll be using in your array, then towards the top left, below Drive click on Format Drive (not to be confused with Format Volume). You’ll be presented with a drop down list with four options, the option I strongly recommend using is the GUID Partition Table.
Note: The GUID Partition Table is the Master Boot Record’s replacement. It has several benefits over the MBR (such as supporting disk sizes in excess of 2TB), additional checksumming features, and is fully supported under Ubuntu. Your system and needs vary from mine, and you will have to decide or find out for yourself if there is any reason that you should currently not use the GUID Partition Table.
Once you have selected the GUID Partition Table from the drop down list, click on Format, last chance to turn back, if you’re solid click on Format again, put in your user password if prompted, and your drive will begin to format with a GUID Partition Table.
As this is happening, you can proceed to repeat the Format Drive process on the remaining drives you wish to use in the array. All three (or more) drives should be formatted with the same partition table before continuing on to the RAID 5 Installation section.