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It's 2013! Happy new year!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013.

Oh, and to a year with hopefully a bit more time to play with geeky toys like the Raspberry Pi and JeeNode ;-)

Happy New Year 2013

Initial impressions of FreeNAS 8.2.0-BETA3

Our recently installed FreeNAS on an HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L is currently being used for backing up VMs (CentOS 6.0 KVM).

The web-based GUI is quite easy to work with, and the filesystem (ZFS) is quite resilient as we found out after a couple of power failures caused by accidentally tripping our ground protection fault / RCD switch…

Still, I’ve ran into some issues that will hopefully be resolved in the next Beta-release:

  • Remote syslog does not work due to an error in the startup script (Ticket #1433)
  • Transmission PBI configuration does not work, always reset to defaults (Ticket #1477Ticket #1512)

The syslog configuration can be fixed manually in /etc/rc.conf. The Transmission PBI needs more fixing before it can becomes useful; at the moment it insists on saving downloads into the jail’s root directory, which has limited quota.

Overall verdict so far: FreeNAS is a great piece of software, ZFS snapshots are awesome, still a couple of rough edges but hey, it’s a BETA ;-)

Happy Birthday, Koetje ;-)

Vandaag viert Koetje alweer haar tweede verjaardag – de tijd vliegt.

Ze hangt wel eens in de gordijnen, soms probeert ze Bommel te vangen maar eigenlijk is ze heel lief. Blacky en Koetje kunnen het heel erg goed vinden, dus het is een gezellige beestenboel met onze 3 katten…

Hier is ze in de weer met een duivenveer die ze in de tuin gevonden heeft – blijkbaar héél interessant!

♫ Happy Birthday to Koe,
Happy Birthday to Koe… ♫

Workaround for Nagios check_linux_raid failure in RHEL / CentOS 6.2

I recently stumbled upon another Nagios plugin that no longer works with SELinux under RHEL / CentOS 6.2: check_linux_raid.

Just like the check_disk plugin, it has the nagios_checkdisk_plugin_exec_t SELinux type. As of May 2012, this problem has not yet been fixed.

The workaround is simple, as with the check_disk plugin:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib64/nagios/plugins/check_linux_raid

Or, for 32-bit systems:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_linux_raid

FreeNAS on HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L

After the NLUUG presentation on FreeNAS, I bit the bullet and bought the HP MicroServer N40L for experimentation. A small and quiet server, with 4 HDD slots that make for a nice NAS setup. Of course, the system has limited CPU power but it should be enough for basic file serving.

Hardware

I decided to install a low-profile Intel NIC and upgrade the RAM memory to run ZFS comfortably.

HP have published some videos on (dis-)assembling the server, making the job a lot easier. There was only one issue: the mini-SAS connector is a pain to remove. Some Googling later, I found this post:

    To unplug a Mini-SAS x4 cable, squeeze the clip on the plug, then push the plug in before pulling it out. (Source: Oracle)

ZFS is very RAM-hungry, so I installed 2x 4GB Unregistered ECC DIMMs, giving me the maximum supported 8GB configuration:

    Crucial 4GB 240-pin DIMM 512Mx72 DDR3 PC3-10600 ECC (CT51272BA1339)

The Crucial DIMMs were detected without problems. It is possible to use standard non-ECC memory, but I wanted the extra reliability offered by having RAM with Error Correction.

Software

There are two ways to run FreeNAS: bare metal, or in a virtual machine. If you want to go the virtual route, HP has made a customized version of VMware ESXi 5 available for ProLiant servers. To minimize complexity, I run FreeNAS on bare metal. This avoids having to deal with raw device passthrough in VMware and ensures maximum performance.

FreeNAS installation

Installation was a breeze. I created a bootable USB stick (4GB, but 2GB should be fine) using VMware Fusion on my Mac; create a new VMware guest (FreeBSD 8, 64-bit) and set it to boot from the ISO image. Connect the USB stick to the VM; the FreeNAS installer will detect it and ask if you want to install to the USB drive. After installation, shut down the VM and plug the USB stick into the internal USB-port in the MicroServer. Done.

Next, you’ll want to add your harddisks and create a ZFS Volume. I enabled the “4k sectors” option for my 2TB Western Digital drives.

You can simply share this entire volume, or create ZFS Datasets within the ZFS Volume. This gives you more fine-grained control over permissions and sharing.

I mainly use NFS and SMB (CIFS) shares at the moment. They can be used from Mac OSX without problems. Having a central LDAP directory (or perhaps even NIS) helps when setting the correct ownership and permission.

Practical experience

So far, I’m quite happy with FreeNAS performance and ease of use.

FreeNAS 8.2.0-BETA3 appears quite stable; I haven’t found any major bugs yet.

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