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Help on my XBMC/Home Server setup

I started a new project for running XBMC/Home Server. I live in a small apartment with 1 tv at the moment. I've always combined XBMC with file storage on one machine before, but since I needed more storage space for my data, so I sold all my old hardware to start something from zero again.I'm leaning towards a different solution with a back-end server and having one XBMC client on the front-end. I know it's the better solution, but considering I live in a very small apartment at the moment, the pros maybe aren't worth the $. Therefore, I want a setup which is still a combination of Mediaplayer and File Server, but with focus on file server for future plans. Another option is to buy a synology NAS, but that would be such a waste of my fractal array case:<

Now I had the chance to buy the following hardware at a very reasonable price:

4x Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000, 3TB
1x Fractal Design Array R2 Mini ITX
1x Intel Core i3 2100
1x be quiet! SFX Power 350 Watt
1x OCZ Onyx SATA II 2.5" SSD 64GB
1x Kingston ValueRAM KVR1333D3N9/4G
1x Asrock H67M-ITX

Requirements: 9TB of storage.

Now I have one big issue: Motherboard only supports 4 sata ports! So there are several options:
- Only use 3 of my 3TB drives,
- Dump the SSD and run everything from a pen drive
- Get a new motherboard with more sata ports for the 2100 like an Asus P8H77-I, or even replace it with an Asus E45M1-I DELUXE instead of using the 1155 platform.
- get a cheap sata controller to have 2 extra sata ports for like $15

I plan to use Ubuntu in combination with XBMC, and setting up raid5 for storage. However, I have absolutely no experience with that either.

All advice regarding hardware and software setup is welcome!
A RAID5 array is not a good substitute for a separate backup. The RAID controller is still a single point of failure. It can be very difficult to recover data if the controller dies.

Is the eSATA port bootable? If so, you could plug your SSD into that - ugly, but problem solved.
Asus AT5IONT-I in an A+ CUPID-3 + 2TB Seagate LP + 16GB SSD + Ubuntu + Samba + XBMC

AT5IONT-I Problems? Check out my Motherboard I/O Map for troubleshooting tips.
True, but in case one drive fails?... It won't be important data (series, movies), but I don't like losing stuff. I've never ever had any problems with hard drives which probably is the reason I've never used a raid setup, but I I guess with expending my storage, it's nice to be able to recover data once a disk goes bad.

I'm just not sure how this affects performance and such. I'm not sure the esata is bootable. Haven't thought of that. I'll look it up.
Use a cheap sata PC card, I have one in my server and while I've never bench marked it, I've never noticed it under performing. Don't worry about getting one with raid as Linux has mdadm, which is software raid, which in my opinion is better that hardware raid or fakeraid, at least for home use.

One thing I would look into is how well the Intel igp handles video decoding acceleration in Linux.. it may be worth getting a cheap nvidia card as they work really well with Linux.

Also, for what its worth, I have raid 5 in my file server and am considering switching to a non raid setup with drive pooling (LVM). All my important stuff is backed up on multiple machines and while it would be a hassle to lose a drive, there isn't anything there that can't be easily replaced. Another thing is that with raid 5 all drives have to be spinning to get data off the array, with lvm only the drive that has the data is being used so you're actually using the drives less..
Well, I finally got my hard drives! one is DOA, so problem solved. I'll use 3 3TB drives. Now i'm up to the software part. I'm still considering a raid 5 setup, but teedubb has a point. However, when one disk goes bad in LVM, all data is gone! Looking for an alternative I came across 'aufs' and 'mhddfs'. Does someone have experience with either of them and care to share?

Help on my XBMC/Home Server setup00