Wright This Way

iPod Shuffle RAID

So, what do you do when you and some friends are all getting iPod Shuffles? You make a RAID array out of them, of course! Follow along as we explore new depths of geekery…
Special thanks to Justin, Melissa, and Shanea for the use of their iPod Shuffles. 😉

So, here we have our iPod Shuffles, all the top of the line 1Gb models. I’m sure that normal folks would probably take these home, install iTunes 4.7.1 from the CD in the box, and happily start putting music on the little things, but I had other plans for them…

Of course, for my plans to work, I next had to take a quick trip over to Fry’s to pick up a suitable USB 2.0 hub, and by suitable I mean one that would allow two or more Shuffles to be plugged in. Not an easy task, but I finally found a nice little one from PPA Inc. that would do the job (Model 1820, not listed on their web site). After getting them all plugged in, it looked like this:

Next we have the process of preparing them to be used as a RAID array. So we fire up Disk Utility, and put them into a RAID set, Striping them for a grand total of 3.9Gb of storage.

Once that process has completed, we how have the new RAID volume available on the desktop and can copy files over to it. As far as the Mac is concerned, it’s just another drive on the system. Of course, iTunes no longer recognizes it, but it’s no longer really portable in this configuration anyway…

Total time to copy a total of 1.86Gb was just under 11 minutes. Obviously if each Shuffle had been on their own independent USB 2.0 BUS, this speed would have been improved.
My original intent was to actually install OS X on the RAID and boot from that, but the OS X (Panther, 10.3.5) Installer wouldn’t allow installation onto the RAID array, either as a Strip or Mirror set. After restoring the Shuffles to their original configuation, I tried the OS X Installer again and even the Shuffle itself would not allow OS X to be installed on it, possibly due to how the volume itself is made available to the OS.

3/3/05 – Note: Be sure to read the followup article, Shuffle Raid wrapup.