FreeNAS, RAID and ESXi

I thought I would try to upgrade my Ubuntu Server farm with a few other options. My the first thing to replace was my NAS. It was just an Ubuntu server with Samba and it also functioned as a backup for my systems via rsync.

My thought was that if I upgraded to FreeNAS I would be able to add iSCSI support and other things in such an easy to use manner it would really make my life a little easier. Short Answer: No.

Ubuntu server was much easier to install iSCSI and get working the first time. With the addition of WebMin management of this server over FreeNAS was much easier.

Then I thought about RAID. For FreeNAS I was thinking Raid5 over ZFS. In theory this was good, it actually worked as advertised, until I started rsync. Then over a 1GBP connection I was averaging 15MB/s, whereas before over Ubuntu I was getting 50+ MB/s.

So then I thought, well, at least I’m getting RAID, but then practically I thought, if I get a card, it’s expensive (more than 2-3TB disk) and it’s still a single point of failure. So rather than go this route, I’d rather just have a great back-up plan and mother board to support more SATA connections.

As to ESXi, the first problem was the network card. It required I purchase a $40 Intel 1GPs network card. Servers installed great, though cloning was a pain. Then when I went to install an XP virtual, guess what? No drivers for my sound card, not in Windows but there was nothing found in ESXi to pass on. Then I needed a windows Machine to mange this server through vSphere which meant that I needed to keep a separate machine on just to support a machine with multiple VMs.

Conclusion

NAS – Stuck with Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS, I could use WebMin and Samba to do what I needed for a file storage and I could use iSCSI, NFS, and SCP/RSYNC with high transfer rates.

VM Server – Stuck with Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS using VirtualBox. The nice thing is here I can just clone drives and with a simple shell script I can start/stop the machines at boot or halt.