SCSI to IDE bridges...

Doc Shipley doc at
Wed Sep 24 20:56:40 CDT 2008

Chuck Guzis wrote:
> I've toyed with the idea of setting up a Linux box with a decent-size 
> (512M) hunk of RAM,turning off swap and using it as a network 
> mailserver with CF instead of IDE disk to conserve power.  I'm not 
> sure how long the CF would last.  Assuming, say, 1000 emails 
> (including spam) a day worst-case, I might see one fail in less than 
> a year, depending upon where the writes landed.  Leveling would help, 
> of course, but do CF cards auto-level, or does that responsibility 
> fall upon the system using them?

   I can vouch for the fact that running a normal OS on CF will kill the 
card in a hurry, even without swap.

   However, if you look at such distributions as Bering uClibC Linux and 
some of the DIY Live CDs, a box with 512MB or even 256MB can run with 
the active filesystems on ramdisk, resulting in few or even no disk 
writes.  I ran Bering on a Soekris net4801 for over 2 years as my home 
firewall and DNS/DHCP server on a cheapo 64MB CF card.

   Given 512MB RAM, you could reasonably mount even your mail directory 
as a ramdisk, and write it out a few times a day.  Or mount a remote 
directory off a box that has to have a spinning disk.

   Having said all that, good, medium capacity, low-amp 4200rpm 2.5" 
drives are down to $10-20, and if you design your OS with care, they 
don't take a lot of power.  In Linux or *bsd, just mounting filesystems 
with the noatime option will cut the power consumption by an impressive 
margin.  Linux, in particular, is perfectly happy with no swap, as long 
as there's sufficient memory, and "sufficient" can be a surprisingly 
small amount.


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