May 03 2006

Is my RAID working? HP / Compaq SmartArray RAID on Linux

Published by at 7:09 am under Technology   

One of our servers is an HP / Compaq 2U machine (DL380 ?) with 6 hard drives and the SmartArray hardware RAID controller. This generally works quite well, but we don’t use one of the handful of Linux distributions that HP supports… so from their site we find a great lack of information on how to administrate or monitor the RAID. It seems silly to me, in the Linux world, to offer such narrow support. Even if only a handful of distributions are fully supported, manufacturers ought to at least offer a page of tips and links for using their hardware with other distributions, offer non-distro-specific tool downloads, human-readable dependency lists, etc.

A while back I got the HP tools to install using “alien”, but these tools seemed overly complex for the simple, ongoing task of monitoring the health of the RAID arrays.

Today I found a simple answer: ArrayProbe, a free / open source tool from:

http://www.strocamp.net/opensource/

for monitoring, among others, SmartArray (CCISS) controllers.

Installation on this Debian system was a not as easy as it could have been. First, the dev tools:

sudo apt-get install gcc libc6-dev

Then I found that it requires the kernel sources (not just headers), in /usr/src/linux, which is not where they landed by default. With a minor “ln-s” workaround, the tool complies and runs fine:

root@servername:~# arrayprobe

OK Arrayprobe
All controllers ok

More details are available with command line options. The simple, one-line output is well suited to automated monitoring and notification – far more useful in many-server environment than a whizbang GUI tool.
Also, a great resource for finding Linux tools for hardware RAID administration and monitor is at http://developer.skolelinux.no/info/prosjektet/delprosjekt/hw-raid-info.html.

Update June 2007: Steve Cameron, maintainer of the CCISS Linux drivers, wrote to point out that the CCISS project now includes (through considerable effort) a cciss_vol_status tool which serves a similar purpose. cciss_vol_status emits somewhat more detailed status data, and might also make it “in the box” in Linux distros eventually, with the core CCISS. I’m unable to try it out myself – we’ve replaced that DL380 with commodity hardware and Linux software RAID.

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