Debian GNU/Linux installation CD’s with Areca support

Attention – the software and installers mentioned on this page work fine but are outdated. I will keep this page here for die-hard Debian users and archaeological purposes but will not update it anymore. I advise everyone to use a current Debian installer, which supports Areca out of the box.

Late 2004, the Taiwanese company Areca announced a new line of very high performance serial-ATA RAID controllers. This hardware is not supported by the standard Debian installation CD’s. Since this controller was ideal for several projects and I wanted to use Debian for that, I decided to create my own installers, which are available for download:

NOTES ON USING THESE INSTALLERS

  • To avoid problems, I kept the Sarge installer exactly the same as the official one, except for the Areca driver. The procedure I used is based on the Debian Installer Modify pages. I have put the notes I made while working on it online.
  • If you have configured a RAID volume bigger than 2 Terabyte, you cannot partition it using a standard DOS partition table which is the default in fdisk/cfdisk. This is a limitation of the DOS partition tabel. A workaround is to create an empty IRIX/SGI partition table with fdisk, write that to disk, and then create XFS filesystems on that. XFS on Linux is not very stable however. Better make multiple 2Tb volumes and glue them together with LVM (which is better for scalability anyway) and create EXT3 partitions.
  • If you have a Pentium4 based system and the kernel crashes just after detecting the RAID card, try disabling Hyperthreading in your motherboard’s BIOS.
  • The kernel on the Woody installer is a trimmed-down 2.4.30 and is only meant for installing a system. To make it install on a wide range of machines, I removed features that are known for screwing up the installation process (SMP amongst others), but that you definitely want on a production machine. As soon as you have a running system, you should compile your own kernel.

Changelog

2005-11-23 Kernel updates

  • In an attempt to fix some stability problem with a large server, I created a 2.6.14 kernel with Areca support. See the kernel section. Please keep in mind that this is not a straiht-forward install, at this time you will need to install the packages udev and yaird.
  • 686-smp kernel image updated with driver 1.20.0X.12.

2005-09-14 AMD64 installer is here!

  • A 64-bit installer is now available. Based on the official unofficial sarge-amd64 netinstall image, which I hacked to add Areca support (driver version 1.20.00.08). According to the docs, you can install this on all AMD 64bit CPU’s with AMD64 extension and all Intel CPUs with EM64T extension. Apart from the areca module this installer is exactly the same as the official Debian installer. This also means that for instance the Broadcom 570x ethernet chipset on some boards do not work. This is a Debian issue, which I will not deal with.
    The installer has the “generic” amd64 kernel so support the most hardware. After installation, you will probably want to have a more specific kernel to take advantage of specific stuff like SMP or EM64T. Getting one with apt-get will not work because that lacks Areca support (duh). For your convenience, I compiled the 5 different flavours already for you.
    Many thanks to Magna Computers for sponsoring the AMD64 machine needed to develop this installer!

2005-08-03 Sarge ISO updates

  • Both the 2.4.27 and 2.6.8 kernel now support Areca!
  • Installer now auto-detects Areca controller (no more modprobing by hand)
  • Driver in both kernels updated to 1.20.0X.08

2005-06-07 Sarge ISO updates

  • Official stable Sarge release used for new Areca installer!
  • Areca driver version 1.20.00.07

2005-04-19 Woody ISO updates

  • Kernel updated: 2.4.29 -> 2.4.30
  • Kernel config updated (iptables, ipv6)
  • Basedebs updated -> all security updates since 3.0 (24!) are now incorporated. This saves you some time because those updates do not have to be downloaded after the install.

2005-02-10 Kernel configuration update

  • No SMP support anymore
  • Generic 386 support instead of Pentium

2005-02-03 Updates

  • Kernel update: 2.4.28 -> 2.4.29
  • Driver update: 1.20.00.00 -> 1.20.00.04

Extra

You will find some custom kernels in the kernel section.

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