2012-12-05

Debian on an Asrock E350M1

I recently built myself a neat little home server. I wanted it to be small compared to a desktop PC, while having a lot of storage space and a reasonable speed to manage smaller tasks. Here's what I bought:

Components

Case: Fractal Design Array R2 300W ITX
Mainboard: Asrock E350M1/USB3
APU: AMD E-350 (2 × 1.6 GHz) [Wikipedia]
RAM: 2 × GeIL 4GB DDR3-1066
Hard Drives: 4 × WD20EARX (Western Digital, 2 TB)

Installing Debian

I'm installing Wheezy from a FAT-formatted USB stick, which I created with unetbootin and the B4 Wheezy Amd64 netinst image. When I tried installing it from an Ext4-USB stick, it wouldn't mount correctly. The installation process is normal so far, I'm using a HD array configuration I found on the Debian forums.

Hard Disk config

/, Ext4: 3 × 5 GB [RAID5]
/boot, Ext4: 1 × 1 GB
swap: 1 × 4 GB
/storage, Ext4: 4 × (4 TB - 5GB) [RAID5]

X.org Window System

Linux boots up and then freezes with a weird-looking screen. It took me hours, if not days, to figure this one out. Thanks again to #debian and #debian-next, who helped me through this. The solution is incredibly easy though. When GRUB shows up, press E to edit the boot command. In the line that starts with linux, add nomodeset at the end. This will prevent Debian from unsuccessfully loading the video chip drivers. After you've done that, press Ctrl+X to boot with the selected GRUB entry. 
Log in as root. To download the necessary firmware, you need to edit the repositories. And since I'm a huge vim fan, this is what I did.
apt-get install vim
vim /etc/apt/sources.list
Now, you have to add "contrib non-free" to the end of your main Debian repository line. The final entry may look somewhat like this:
deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main contrib non-free
Update your repository cache and install the missing firmware.
apt-get update && apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree firmware-realtek
Then you're all set to do a reboot in normal mode. You now have a functioning Debian.