Why is Linux in Beta?

There are four (4) reasons the Drobo and DroboPro datasheets state that Linux support is currently in Beta:

  1. Data Robotics does not offer an official version of Drobo Dashboard software for Linux. There is a community created, community supported management utility for Linux that is available in the DroboApps section of the Data Robotics Website. You can read more about this Linux management utility here:

  2. Data Robotics does not officially test against every distribution of Linux for every microprocessor architecture that is currently available.

  3. Data Robotics has not officially tested EXT3 volumes larger than 2TB and therefore recommends a maximum volume size of 2TB on a EXT3 formatted volume.

  4. Data Robotics has not officially tested any Linux iSCSI initiators.

Hi Jennifer,

To these items I would respond:

  1. Ok, but if this was the only reason, would you still insist on calling it beta?

  2. I really don’t think this should be all that necessary. Just test against the main ones. The many other minor ones normally always work like the main architectures.

  3. Why not?

  4. Why not?



Thanks for explaining this, Jennifer. The situation you describe is exactly why many vendors provide “limited support” for Linux.

  1. There probably would need to be a supported DashBoard app.

  2. If DRI supported the latest 2 releases of RHEL (currently 4 & 5) and a fairly recent Fedora Core, that should be enough for most casual Linux users* and corporate customers. The rest of us will discover that Drobo works just fine with other distros and will continue the community-support thing.
    Intel Architecture x86 and x64 are all you need.

  3. Easy. Larger filesystems are unsupported. :slight_smile:

  4. Certify one iSCSI initiator.

*I have nothing against Debian/Ubuntu, Gentoo, etc. If DRI could pick only one distro to support, RHEL is both very stable and popular – and FC shares much with RHEL.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours ( not all of them but quite a few ) fighting with Drobo to try to handle an 8TB ext3 partition. I finally got it up and running, and 49G’s of data into my backup sync ext3 bailed on the partition. fdisk and other tools could not recover the filesystem on it.

At this point after reviewing my options:

  • NTFS = No Way, also doesn’t support > 2TB except in Vista ( WHO RUNS VISTA??? )
  • FAT = You’ve got to be kidding me
  • HFS+ = All the right size capabilities, but horrible Linux interoperability
  • Many ext3 partitions joined in a linux array that will get totally hosed the first time they get mounted outside of Linux. Plus, with this option I’d have Drives > LUNs > Paritions > Filesystems > software raid array > Partition > Filesystem, and that just seems silly, doesn’t it?
  • Make 4 2TB Partitions, use the first one ext3, hope and pray for firmware updates. If they come out, delete the other LUNs and grow the first one. If they don’t come out, get stuck having to chunk out my backups on different partitions.

I’ve gone with the last one. These files need to remain ext3 for all kinds of reasons, including that that’s the environment they’d be going back to in the case of a restore. I am completely dissapointed that ext3 is not well supported and that the product doesn’t do what it should do according to the sales materials under my use case. “One big drive” is what I bought it for.

And, on an unrelated note, I cut my thumb racking the drobo.

<< Unhappy sysadmin.[hr]

I agree with everything except this. ext3 does support them >= kernel 2.6.26. Drobo firmware doesn’t. ext4 supports up to 1 exibyte.

And, on this topic in general: Supporting ext3 LBD ( Large Block Device support ) doesn’t mean “supporting Linux” You’re just supporting the filesystem, which is used on Mac systems. You need to separate these two issues. Filesystem choice != OS choice.

I do not have much to contribute, but I thought that the following links may be of some interest to you.

Access EXT3 on Vista:

TestDisk: EXT3 File Recovery Software

ext3 is also supported under MaxOSX, and should have LBD support soon if it doesn’t already. So saying that ext3 LBD isn’t supported by Drobo because Drobo doesn’t support Linux is really not very valid. I understand that they don’t want to sit on the phone & troubleshoot my iscsitarget under Gentoo. I don’t understand not fully supporting the only journaled filesystem available for the device. At all, actually.