Linux software RAID1 is just as fast as several of the hardware RAID1 setups I’ve tested using Bonnie++—These are fucking fileservers, not renderfarms. The processor’s sitting there doing jack shit anyway, and you’re more than likely putting a P4 in there since you can’t buy anything else with decent reliability. Throw in a decent GigE network card and your processor is STILL at 0% utilization. Make that a RAID5 with hot-standby drive and I would be very surprised if you noticed any difference in the apparent “feel” of the server compared to a hardware RAID solution.
Hardware RAID’s okay but now you’ve got a proprietary format array with a SPOF (the RAID card(s))—sure you can keep spare RAID cards around but honestly unless you need every last bps on your network transfer and you’ve got your server so overloaded that SW RAID is impacting your performance you’re just incurring extra expense. I am very happy that I can take any RAID array I have and throw it in another system should a motherboard or controller fail and I need the system up immediately. I’m very happy that LVM Just Works and works happily on top of software RAID. There’s no issues and no extra question marks like there are with any hardware RAID “solution”.
Want beeping? Write a script. Want email/phone/paging when something goes wrong? Write a script. Or use any of the monitoring and alerting systems you can find on Freshmeat (mon, nagios, etc.). Jesus H Christ, give your head a shake.
Oh wait, you’re trying to build a performance system using an OS built for pushing pixels. Perhaps that is your biggest problem. Windows has its place, but high performance data transfer just isn’t one of them. I guess if you’ve decided to spend a couple hundred on an OS license that gets you nothing you may as well blow another couple hundred to get hardware to go with it.