Freenas 8.0.1, VMWare VSphere 5 (ESXi) and iSCSI

Filed Under (Storage, VMware VSphere 5) by Just An Admin on 06-10-2011

The test hardware

We recently completed the build of our ‘do it yourself’ NAS storage, using Freenas 8.0.1. To put this new setup to work we purchased a secondhand HP DL360 G5 with the following specs:

HP DL360 G5
2 x Intel Xeon 5335 2Ghz processor
24GB internal memory (4×4, 4×2)
P400i SAS cache controller, 256MB with Battery Backup
6 x 73GB 15K SAS disk in RAID6
2 x 1GB LAN interface

With this used hardware we have a dedicated test server we can use to put our Freenas Storage through all different kinds of test. We installed an internal 2GB USB stick in the DL360 and installed VMWare VSphere 5 (aka ESXi 5) on the box and configured or tweaked nothing besides the basic network settings. Read the rest of this entry »

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Project: Building a cheap NAS, part 6

Filed Under (Storage, VMWare ESXi 4) by Just An Admin on 04-10-2011

It has been a while. Due to ‘other activities’ we had to put our FreeNAS server project on hold. But we are here again and have found a nice and cool spot for our server in the Server Room. Good thing, because the noise is killing.

SASUC8I in ‘IT’ mode

When looking for a good controller for our setup, we came across several posts advising to use the SASUC8i controller in ‘IT’ mode aka Initiator/Target mode, especially when using a ZFS file system. In general, it is referred to as a non-RAID mode of operations for your LSI 1068e based controller. This allows software direct access to all the connected disks, instead of the logical RAID set that is defined. Although i have seen only good responses to the IT mode operation of this controller card, there have been few reports of I/O failures when querying SMART values rapidly (ref: here). In general this is a very good choice controller for a broad range of operating systems, including FreeNAS. Read the rest of this entry »

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Project: Building a cheap NAS, part 5

Filed Under (Storage, Windows Networking) by Just An Admin on 28-07-2011

Part 5: Assembly of the parts!

All parts have arrived! Boxes are coming in from different suppliers. I almost feel like a kid at Christmas. After a little break from our NAS project we are ready to get going again.

The Casing

The supplier of our Norco chassis had a little surprise for us. The shipment with chassis did not include our Norco RPC-4220, but to compensate for the long wait and the fact he could not deliver the ordered casing within a reasonable time, we were offered a Norco RPC-4224 unit instead. So we now have the slightly bigger brother of our RPC-4220. This case has 6 backplanes with each 4 disk bays. The top ‘ledge’ which harbors the CD and system disk in a RPC-4220 has been replaced with an additional backplane. So no CD/DVD option and we need to look for another place to mount our SSD disk. But we now have the ability to upgrade up to 24 disks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Project: Building a cheap NAS, part 3

Filed Under (Storage, Windows Networking) by Just An Admin on 23-04-2011

Part 3: The controller and disks

Our server parts are coming together nicely. The chassis, motherboard, memory and processor have been added to our wish list. Now it is time to look at the expansion SATA controller and the disk we would like to use.

The controller

Again the choice of brand is forced by several ‘demands’ we have.

The controller must:

  • support 8 SATA disks
  • be supported by FreeBSD/FreeNAS
  • have a decent throughput / IO’s per second
  • have PCI-E 8x support, but most controllers are
  • be affordable

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Project: Building a cheap NAS, part 2

Filed Under (Storage, VMWare ESXi 4, Windows Networking) by Just An Admin on 19-04-2011

Part 2: The Motherboard

Picking the right motherboard for our project was most likely the most difficult part. Besides the overwhelming amount of motherboards to choose from, we had a very strict set of demands:

  • Must have two PCI-E x8 or x16 slots, three would even be better
  • Must be supported under FreeBSD/FreeNAS 7.x/8.x
  • Must offer at least 6 onboard SATA ports
  • Must offer at least two, teamable or Link Aggregation (LAGG) compatible network interfaces, thee would even be better
  • Must have an onboard USB port
  • Must be server grade quality
  • Must have an onboard Video card

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