NAS Virtualization Server Progress

Written by Michael Cole - June 16th 2015

So I now have my last pieces and the current build is as follows:

I know that power supplies are important, in fact maybe the most important component. But in my case a Gold rated power supply with enough SATA connections was my main goal. With my case again, it was something with good air flow and lots of drive bays.

I'm not trying to make specific recommendations, I think some sites are too into the you must use this hardware, or you must have this type of RAM. I think in many cases there is just a lot of pressure to buy specific stuff. I say come up with what you want to do, decide on a budget, look for deals and sales, look at reviews and ratings (with perspective and objectiveness), then start buying parts. One of the main reasons I selected the ECC RAM was I knew that SuperMicro boards are very picky on RAM. With this specific RAM I could Max out to 32GB and it should work, based on what I read. Many other people who bought other types of RAM had issues.

Another thing that I like to do when buying parts is look for the point where the difference in the part no longer justifies the cost. So if CPU A is $50 and 1GHZ, CPU B is $55 and 1.5GHZ, and CPU C is $100 and 2GHz. I may select CPU B. Because for $5 I can justify the difference, but for the $45 or $50 difference I can't. The example was specifically not based on real CPUs. The same is true on Hard Drives, but with size. Also keep in mind other attributes of the hardware need to be the same or very similar. If a CPU for instance has over-clocking or extra cache it may justify the price difference. Again I'm keeping my example very fake and very simple. I usually spend a long time selecting hardware and looking for deals. This can drive the people around me (friends, family, co-workers) insane! I actually had a co-worker say "I'll give you the $10 difference, just buy the part and shut up about it." or at least something very close to that.

And for those people going he didn't mention a UPS and all his data will be gone if the power goes out. I have MANY UPS' in my house and various things connected to them. I even have a UPS for my entertainment center. So don't worry about it, I'll have that covered, I just don't feel like going into the details.

Now that I've offended most of the hardware snobs, lets move on. I took the two 500GB drives and setup a base FreeBSD install with ZFS mirroring. I'm now in the process of reading the awesome FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS by Michael W Lucas and Allan Jude. I want to make sure that I setup my storage right, since ZFS can be difficult to change. That being said I am leaning towards RAIDZ2 with all 6 drives. Since a large portion of what I will be doing is storing family photos and videos I would prefer the redundancy over speed. Yes I am aware RAID is not backup. But it never hurts to have a good original copy and not have to use your backups. The servers that I setup don't need to be fast, they are just running things for my house.

In either case I am on Chapter 7 of the book. I have learned many things about ZFS specific to FreeBSD and generic. I aim to be complete very soon and then I will complete my build and start working on other items like jails.

I'm still not sure on the jail management software. I have tried ezjail and it was ok. The old style configuration complaint was getting old in my testing. I tried CBSD which seemed to work well, but the main site was in Russian and documentation translation is still in progress. I know a few people with FreeNAS and they recommend Warden, but my main complaint about the PC-BSD software is that it is in one giant bundle. I actually had trouble finding Warden, because I really wanted it to be a package of it's own. I have not tried iocage yet, but it sounds kind of cool so I may try that. Of course I could just write some custom scripts, a lot of people seem to prefer that.

Anyways, a little more thought on my part is required. I know my co-workers are most likely saying, "Mike you just like to over complicate things! Just do it already!". What can I say, I'm crazy that way.