Step-by-step how to make a FreeNAS Box (video)

Pox and Ragble give an in depth guide for making your own Network Attached Storage device with FreeNAS.

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Posted in FreeNAS

Build a Home Media Server with unRAID

Ben Long has written a post on PC World website on his experience with Lime Technology‘s unRAID. It’s not so much about how to build a home media server with unRAID, but more an account of his (positive) experience:

“One benefit of digital media distribution is that you can store all of your music, movies, TV shows, and videos as data on hard drives rather than as stacks on shelves. But with higher-quality files and larger collections, that can still add up to a lot of storage.

Finding the right storage solution for your needs can be tricky, as you try to balance performance with expandability. Throw in the need for backup and network-wide access and things can get quite complicated. I was very surprised then, to discover Lime Technology’s unRAID, a DIY storage system that provides a very powerful, flexible storage option at a very low price.”

The rest of the article talks about:

  • The need for storage
  • Building an unRAID
  • Hard drives
  • Installing the Software
  • Why unRAID?
  • Using the unRAID

Why does Ben like unRAID?

“The unRAID offers a lot of great features. First, like a RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks) it combines multiple drives into a single volume. And, like several RAID formats, it has built-in redundancy. By incorporating a dedicated parity disk, anything you copy to the unRAID can be restored should a single drive fail.

Unlike many RAID configurations, though, you don’t have to expand the unRAID with pairs of drives. You can add another drive, of any size, to the array at any time. So, if you run out of storage, all you have to do is add another drive to the system, and that drive’s space will automatically be added to the total pool of storage.  [...]

Like the Drobo (and unlike most RAID configurations) if a drive in the unRAID fails, you can take it out and replace it with a new drive. The unRAID system will automatically fill the new drive with the contents of the old drive. Thanks to this redundancy, the unRAID system can survive a failure of a single drive. What’s also nice is that the data is not “striped” in any way–each drive simply has directories of files, so even if multiple drives fail, you can still retrieve your data from the surviving drives.  [...]

Finally, the unRAID system is extremely affordable. I had to buy a case, power supply, motherboard, and CPU, but I already had several drives. I simply took the drives out of all of my external enclosures, and some of the extra drives out of my tower, and put them in the unRAID box.

So, with the unRAID, I have a single device that, using current drive technology, can be expanded up to 38 terabytes, and allows for expansion one drive at a time, without losing any data, and without having to rebuild the entire system. All of that data is backed up, and the system can survive a single drive crash with no loss of data. Also, unlike a mirrored RAID 1 setup, half my storage is not used for backup. If I put in 10TB worth of data drives, then I have 10TB worth of usable storage.  [...] (continues)

Build your own Home Media Server with unRAID (

Posted in unRAID

ZFS data integrity tested

Robin Harris over at the Storage Bits blog analyses a new UW-M paper analyzing the fault tolerance claims of ZFS:

“File systems guard all the data in your computer, but most are based on 20-30 year old architectures that put your data at risk with every I/O. The open source ZFS from Sun Oracle claims high data integrity – and now that claim has been tested.
File systems guard all the data in your computer, but most are based on 20-30 year old architectures that put your data at risk with every I/O. The open source ZFS from Sun Oracle claims high data integrity – and now that claim has been tested.

I’m at the USENIX File and Storage Technology FAST conference in Silicon Valley. There is more leading edge storage thinking presented here than any other industry event.

Case in point: End-to-end Data Integrity for File Systems (PDF): A ZFS Case Study by Yupu Zhang, Abhishek Rajimwale, Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau of the Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison. It offers the first rigorous test of ZFS data integrity.”

Robin Harris’ post in full: ZFS data integrity tested (

Posted in ZFS

FreeNAS 0.8 Roadmap

Olivier Cochard-Labbé has added a roadmap page to the FreeNAS website: FreeNAS 0.8 roadmap.

We can already see a positive impact from iXsystem‘s takeover of the  FreeNAS project: “Refactor the build system” and the “one click binary installs”. Two features that PC-BSD (another iXsystems project) already has. PC-BSD has the Push Button GUI installer and iXsystems also provides the hardware for the build servers.

One of the reasons for the former FreeNAS lead developer, Volker Theile, to start his CoreNAS / OpenMediaVault project was that FreeNAS lacked a modular design with the ability to easily compliment the system with plugins or add-ons.

From the roadmap:

Blocking Features

  • Development on FreeBSD RELENG_8. Release, depending on timeframe may be based on a RELENG_8 snapshot or 8.1-RELEASE
  • Migrate off m0n0wall
  • Migrate GUI to django
  • Add support for ada and ahci SATA drivers
  • Add optional SoftUpdates + Journaling support to UFS2 filesystems
  • Migration path/tool for previous releases and configurations
  • Preservation of all existing features of the current FreeNAS release
  • Refactor FreeNAS build system to allow building FreeNAS without affecting the host environment

Non-Blocking Features

  • FreeNAS package support. Binary one click installs that modify the GUI dynamically.

We’re looking forward to the first iXsystems FreeNAS release. How is it going to compare with OpenMediaVault (unreleased as yet)? Time will tell.

Posted in FreeNAS

iXsystems iX-N4236 Orion II Server Series

The Orion II Storage Server & JBOD Storage Expansion Deliver Unparalleled Storage Density With Redundant Cooling and Powerful Intel® Technologies

iXsystems have released the iX-N4236 Orion II Storage Server which is designed to handle storage-intensive tasks while remaining at an optimal temperature and drawing less power than other servers in its class. The Orion II’s powerful complement of features and light energy footprint create an ideal environment for ZFS implementations, virtualization, and high-capacity storage.

iX-N4236 is a high performance, high quality, ultra dense, 4U rackmount server designed to maximize your rack-space, while saving energy, and your overall storage budget. The iX-N4236 features a highly efficient (92% Gold Level) power supply, 36 hot swap drive bays and amazing redundant cooling. Performance is handled by two Intel(r) Xeon(r) 5500 Series CPU’s, and up to 144GB of DDR3 ECC Registered 1333MHz memory.

The Orion II Server sports dual, intelligent Intel® Xeon® 5500 series quad-core processors, making it a powerful, efficient storage platform. Each Xeon® processor saves power by automatically putting the CPU into the lowest available power state during periods of light utilization. Intel® TurboBoost Technology raises performance on individual cores based on the needs of specific applications, ensuring efficient allocation of resources and increasing overall system performance. This intelligent power management, coupled with ultra-high efficiency power supplies and optional low-power hard drives and RAM, make the Orion II servers top of their class in storage capacity, compute power, and density per watt.

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Posted in Data Storage, ZFS

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