Help: Firewire Enclosures

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to put together a small, quiet, low-power file server. Right now, I have a 1TB volume (comprised of 4 drives in a striped LVM set, so no redundancy) in my desktop machine. Since this box is also a (somewhat public) webserver and subversion server, I leave it on all the time. It’s in my bedroom, and is somewhat noisy, so I’d be glad to be able to turn it off sometimes, but I still want the public services on it to be accessible all the time if possible.

The other problem is that I’m rapidly running out of space on the volume. Right now I have about 85 GB left.

NewEgg was running a sale on the Seagate 400 GB SATA II drive around Christmas, so I bought two of them. I want two more, but I’m waiting on a better deal.

My original plan was to build a very small box with no storage in it, based on a mini-ITX board (or something similar). I’d probably buy a 2 GB flash disk for the OS. For the actual file storage, I was thinking about an eSATA enclosure, but the hardware for this is rather expensive, as I’d need a SATA port multiplier, as well as the eSATA-related hardware. I really don’t want to spend that much on it.

James suggested I look into Firewire 800 (aka 1934b). Since Firewire is daisy-chain-able, I’d only need a single Firewire port on the computer itself, and, in theory, it’s infinitely expandable (well, not really, but close enough for my needs). The assumption here is that the bottleneck will be the network (even with gigabit ethernet), so 1394b would be able to pump out the data plenty fast enough.

To start, I need two things: a 1394b controller that works well with Linux, and a 4-drive enclosure with SATA-to-1394b bridges. Bonus points if it’s fanless or otherwise very quiet, but I’m thinking I can toss this in a closet, so that’s not a huge deal.

So I started poking around. I have a couple leads on a decent 1394b controller, at an ok price. However, I can’t seem to find drive enclosures at good prices. I’d really like to spend around $100-120 on the enclosure. The best I can find is this qBOX-F, which is $190. And it’s not even quite what I want, because it requires an IDE-to-SATA adapter. And if you look at the specs, it says it only supports up to a 400Mbps data rate. Useless.

Anybody know of any 4-drive Firewire 800 enclosures that do SATA on the cheap? $100-120 (or less!) is ideal, but I guess I’d be willing to pay up to $160 or so if I had to. Alternatively, should I just stick with the older Firewire 400? (Hell, if I’m going to do that, I might as well just use USB2.) Any other options to hook up 4 SATA drives externally that I can do in under $200?