Thursday, October 20, 2011

OpenSource Drobo replacement - Update

After over two years of faithful service, I've upgraded my OpenSource Drobo replacement. I thought it fitting to write an update post as my new setup is even better though mostly the same.

For perspective, not long after I setup this system, Apple discontinued work on the ZFS port to OS X. Thankfully the work they had done was solid. During the last 2 years I lost 2 drives and was easily able to replace them and get back to full speed within 24 hours of purchasing a new disk.

My new system consists of the same Mediasonic 4 bay ProBox headed by a Zotac ATOM based NetTop I purchased for around $300. You can buy a similar model now without ram or disk for under $150. I'd go for this one if I could go back in time. You can use a cheap USB stick and two gigs of ram for under $100 these days.

For the new head operating system I tried a couple of different Open Solaris/Illumos based distrobutions such as Smart OS, Open Indiana and Nextenta Core Platform. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, these didn't seem to like my cheap hardware. I finally stumbled upon FreeNas, a FreeBSD based NAS appliance distribution complete with Web UI . Because it's FreeBSD based, support for ZFS is included. It's also designed to run from a USB stick in order to free up space for another drive which is a great idea.

Migrating to FreeNAS was a breeze once I learned to trust the Web UI. I still had to manually chown and chmod everything from a shell. Chown fixed the ownership for sharing everything properly in the FreeNas way. Chmod was required to fix an ACL problem with the filesystem caused my the OS X port. I also elected to upgrade to version 15 of ZFS which took all of two seconds (literally). It's possible I could have easily accomplished all this in the FreeNAS UI but old habits die hard.

Setuping up sharing was as easy as following the directions in the documentation. In short, create user, add user to group, configure the volume to be owned by that group with appropriate perms, create share, start/restart CIFS service. All in all it took about an hour!

Here's an update to the caveat's section from first post:

- you don't really need to know how to use a command line to get up and running with FreeNAS unless you're migrating coming from OS X ZFS
-esata does improve performance, at least it seems to though I've done no rigorous tests
-reboot the system, everything will come back online
- the green drive problem doesn't seem to be an issue anymore

4 Comments:

At October 25, 2011 at 3:53 PM , Blogger Plouj said...

I was actually waiting for FreeNAS 8 to be released for a while so I gave it a try when I saw your post. Unfortunately I ran into a pretty disappointing problem: FreeBSD ZFS can't read/import my zpools which were created in NexentaStore. And yes I have exported the volume from Nexenta first and yes the zpool version should be supported by FreeBSD (14) - it was actually originally created with PCBSD. Looks like the only solution is to somehow find an OS that would be able to read and write zpools supported by both Nexenta and FreeNAS 8.

 
At November 5, 2011 at 7:08 PM , Blogger Geoff Flarity said...

Doh, you'd expect the source code to be almost completely the same. You should post some info the the FreeNAS forums and see if they can help.

I would have used Nexenta Core Platform had it recognized my $300 nettop. I'm glad I found FreeNAS though. It's UI is slick.

 
At January 3, 2012 at 5:06 PM , Blogger Plouj said...

It turns out my problem was actually due to a bad export operation on the Solaris/Nexenta side and I'm not the only one who experienced it: http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.os.solaris.opensolaris.zfs/24743

 
At September 17, 2013 at 7:16 PM , Blogger John Michle said...

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