Hardware set up - future homelab

So I have purchased new Dell Inspiron - 12GB memory, i5-11400 processor, 11 Gen Intel… for playing around with homelab - proxmox set up.

My issue is it comes with SSD 256 & HDD 1T set up as RAID 0 - I am not a hardware person, however I was able to install Manjaro on one of these units, but it does not recognize the HDD - the install was on the SSD drive. In the bios I changed the RAID to AHCI but I now believe this only worked for the SSD drive that had Windows 10 installed. I did an erase/install.

Can anyone guide me as to how I can:

  1. set both SSD & HDD to AHCI?
  2. Then I can choose which drive Linux/Proxmox gets installed on - any recommendations as to which one would be much appreciated.

Thanks so much for sharing your hardware experiences :slight_smile:

BTW - I know RAID 0 w/ two drives is done for speed. Speed for gaming - I do not mind loosing these set-up’s speed advantage. This machine is going to be used for very simple home-lab, very very simple.

This setup sounds pretty similar to my first Intel Nuc setup.

After some experimentation, I installed proxmox on the SSD. I also used the SSD to hold all of my VMs. I then used the larger hard drive as a data store.

This works pretty well, because you can just put everything on the SSH drive to start with. Proxmox defaults to thin provisioning. You can make nice big boot drives for your VMS. proxmox will only allocate as much space as needed. Then, as you start to feel squeezed for space you can optimize by moving your data hogging stuff over to the larger spinning hard drive.

This might sound ridiculous… but I often removed the drives I did not want the system to boot to so the only installed drive would be chosen by the installer by default. Sometimes installers can do unexpected magic behind the curtain.

As you get a little more experience I recommend learning the ls* command. They can be a bit cryptic, but they are great for learning what hardware is installed in your system and how linux references those devices.

Thank you ~ this is good to know.

How did you get your ‘other drive’ to be recognized by Linux/Proxmox? Did you disconnect your SSD and then boot from USB and… ?

ls I will look into it.
I did not want to start up the installed Windows 10 at all, so I jumped right in to the deep end, and all was done to the SSD only, without my realizing. I’m only now learning about RAID 0 and connected drives.

Linux is very good at discovering devices such as drives. In general, you can just turn off the computer, install the device and reboot the computer.

I would use the the usb installer to install to the SSD drive. Do a reboot and let things settle down. Then I would install the additional drives and reboot.

I would also recommend using Ubuntu as your first Linux OS not because it is better, but because googling for things like “ubuntu install 2nd hard drive” results in the most useful results. If you are poking around for the first time the GUI disk utility can be a great place to start. You can get familiar with partitioning and formating drives without memorizing the CLI incantations.

The tricky part can be be configuring the drive so that you can store data on it. That is why I liked to let the installer or disk GUI sort things out until I knew enough to understand why I was changing the defaults. As an FYI there are several steps between a Linux computer recognizing a physical and being able to use the drive to store data. It can be a bit confusing at first.

If you have already installed proxmox, you can click on the “Node-> Disks” to work with additional disk drives.

I did play with Ubuntu, but I just kept getting lost, I started with Mint and was comparing Ubuntu with all I knew - windows/Mint, things are not so apparent in Ubuntu, and so I just kept breaking it :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I did the ls and found two drives -
Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 238.47 GiB, 256060514304 bytes, 500118192 sectors
Disk model: CL1-3D256-Q11 NVMe SSSTC 256GB
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: 3C51B26F-9D08-F047-9B03-82749130344F

Disk /dev/sda: 931.51 GiB, 1000204886016 bytes, 1953525168 sectors
Disk model: WDC WD10EZEX-75W
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: C0CD8776-FA30-4F63-B4DE-4B133866C0F3

I’m assuming the last one is the HDD 1T drive… I can use fdisk and the command line to ‘format’ it making it accessible to my Linux or any future Linux based installs.

Before I start breaking things again, I want to do a lot of researching on the Dell Inspiron Bios settings, as there is a lot to unpack and get a firm understanding of so I can set things up proper.


Yes, everything under /dev/ is a device nvme*/ drives are usually m.2 drives, and /sd* drives are normal SATA drives.

Yes, you can format it from the command line. There is a great reference at https://opensource.com/article/18/11/partition-format-drive-linux That walks you through the entire process. Unless you have to, I would jump to the end end and just use a GUI if possible.

If you are looking to become a homelabber, I would not worry too much about setting things up properly. You will be installing and uninstalling things hundreds of times to figure how things work under the hood. you will have plenty of time to optimize later.

What is a “m.2 drives”?

By this I meant - in the bios I changed a lot of the settings, and I have no idea which ones I should now change back and witch ones I should leave as they are. The entire hardware/firmware/bios was designed for Windows 10 (and I want to move as far away from that as possible).

So ‘set things up proper’ from a Dell Hardware to secure Linux stand point, once the hardware is as secure and sound as possible then the breaking of software can begin.

M.2 is just a connector like PCIe. I believe that it’s a requirement for NVMe hard drives although I’ve seen some SATA drives that use it too. It’s what the hard drives that look like a stick of gum plug into. It’s also a common connector for wifi cards.

Once you have your hard drive partitioned and formatted it’s a good idea to modify the fstab to auto mount your second drive consistently.

As far as setting things up proper bios if your equipment is all working you are probably set up “proper”. The bios settings should just make sure you can access your connected devices. Most of the “security” features of the bios are usually geared towards windows users. Unless you are having hardware issues I would consider the bios settings good.

Perfect :wink: very good point.

Regarding Bios - then setting it back to secure-boot isn’t necessary?

From everything that I’ve read, it’s overly complicated to get manjaro to work with secure boot enabled, and with no benefit on Linux. I’ve been using with secure boot disabled without fear.

That is interesting . . . I always re-enabled secure boot after my Linux Mint installs and had no problems (beginners luck), so I would have plunged right in had you not warned me - Thanks.