FreeNAS based on Dell T110 11 chassis and case - hard drive advice please.

brianm

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This is my second attempt at a FreeNAS system, the first was obviously getting too complex because it was based on a HP DL380 G5 server that was going to need much in the way of component changes (also no AES).

I purchased a good used Dell T110 11 server which had had the memory and hard-drives removed so the owner could use them in a new system. Since this resulted in loss of the operating system FreeNAS was an obvious replacement.
So, the memory can be replaced with genuine Dell parts, this is only a matter of money and I will eventually load 32 Gig.
I had already purchased four 2.5 inch, 1Tb, Western Digital Reds for the HP project so it would be good to use them in the Dell project. Unfortunately Dell has a really weird list of recommended drives - one tech. rep. actually specifically saying that NAS drives should not be used.

Table 11.
Form Factor Capacity Speed Type
3.5” 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB 7.2K SATA
3.5” 2TB 5.4 K SATA
3.5” 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB 7.2 K NL SAS
3.5” 146GB, 300GB, 450GB, 600GB 15 K SAS
2.5” 200GB, 400GB NA SAS SSD
2.5” 146GB, 300GB, 600GB, 900GB 10 K SAS

I cannot understand why the physical size and RPM should be a restriction on drive selection, I must be missing something.

As anyone any experience with a similar Dell conversion who could provide actual results? I plan to connect the drives directly to the mother-board SATA sockets rather than through the H200 disk controller.

Brian
 
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Chris Moore

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I cannot understand why the physical size and RPM should be a restriction on drive selection, I must be missing something.
Dell is only going to quote you drives that they have for sale (drives they have tested) and they are going to be some of the most expensive drives in the universe.

As for that server, I have one like it at work. It isn't terrible, but it may need some hardware changed out.
How is it configured, there are MANY options?
 

brianm

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Thanks for the comments Chris.

I am still working through the system options but basically it has the E31220 CPU with a pretty standard list of peripherals. The significant item was that it had a H216j hard disk controller but since I do not plan to use this it will not be a factor.
The MB has five SATA connectors and I plan to use these for the four FreeNAS drives.
Presently I am using an internal USB socket for FreeNAS but I want to change this to a 32Gb SanDisk "Ready Cache" SSD (subject to proof of concept).
There is a CD-ROM connected to one of the MB SATA slots.

I plan to use 16Gb of RAM initially which I will increase to 32 GB when I can see the server is working correctly.
Similarly I would not mind upgrading the CPU in the future.
An added NICs connector is also planned.
The good thing about these servers is that they seem to often be offered at a reasonable price with memory and drives removed. If I can get my base spec. server working I can simply wait until I see the upgrades I need become available.

What options do you think I should be looking out for?

90% of the time there will only be three computers connected to the server so workload should be light.
 
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Chris Moore

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You can disconnect the CD drive and remove it. Both of the 5.25 bays can be used for HDD as FreeNAS really has no need for a CD, even for the initial install.
I put a Dell H310 SAS controller in (flash to IT mode) and used it for all the storage drives, leaving the SATA ports available for the boot drives. I used a mirrored pair of 2.5 inch laptop drives. You can pickup new, old stock drives in the 40GB range for $10 and they are plenty fast and reliable.

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Chris Moore

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Thanks for the comments Chris
PS. I hope I didn't sound too critical of the Dell system. If you got a good deal on it, it will be a super fine NAS. The only problems I see are that the case limits the number of drives you can put internally and the system board does not come with IPMI.
I am a big fan of the Supermicro system boards because they come with IPMI for remotely connecting to the system to do any management tasks that are needed. I also like the rack chassis because of the number of drives you can put in and how easy it is to insert and remove them with the hot-swap trays.
Did you have any other questions about any of this?
 

Chris Moore

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The significant item was that it had a H216j hard disk controller but since I do not plan to use this it will not be a factor.
I looked that part up and it is one of the Dell SAS controllers (like the H300 I mentioned) that can be flashed with the LSI/Avago firmware to convert it to IT mode and then it can be used with FreeNAS to control SATA drives.
You might want to use it.
 

brianm

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Thanks Chris.
I am on the road now but will be home tomorrow and I can start playing again.
Just to expand upon my choice of chassis. I do not expect the Dell to be my final project but it will be a good learning experience.
Since you have built a working FreeNas unit on the Dell chassis I now know that it is indeed possible and that I will not be wasting my time using it as a starter project.
I will work through the next phase (getting drives working and software setup) and I will let you know what happens.

One question. It seemed to me that, since FreeNas wants as little hardware control of the drives as possible that connecting them directly to the MB would be the way to go. In your last post you suggested running the SATA drives through a controller. Is there some advantage to this I have not worked out yet?

Brian
 

Chris Moore

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One question. It seemed to me that, since FreeNas wants as little hardware control of the drives as possible that connecting them directly to the MB would be the way to go. In your last post you suggested running the SATA drives through a controller. Is there some advantage to this I have not worked out yet?
FreeNAS wants direct access to the drives and connecting them to a SAS HBA is just as good (or better) than connecting them to a SATA controller.
The Dell H200 controller that came with the system is (unless I am mistaken) one of the models that can be flashed with the IT (initiator target) version of the firmware which would give FreeNAS direct control of the drives.
I use a Dell H310 controller, flashed to IT mode, to run the drives in my NAS (see my signature) and it works fantastically. Using SAS controllers to address SATA drives vastly increases the number of drives that can be connected. If I recall correctly, the H200 is able to access more than 120 drives by using SAS expanders.
 

Chris Moore

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danb35

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Using SAS controllers to address SATA drives vastly increases the number of drives that can be connected.
Since the case only supports (per the datasheet) four 3.5" disks, why is this an issue? I get that OP has the controller already, but it seems like it'd just draw extra watts without being useful at all. If there are six SATA ports on the motherboard, OP can fill the bays, use an SSD for a boot device, and still have a SATA port to spare.
 

Chris Moore

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Since the case only supports (per the datasheet) four 3.5" disks, why is this an issue? I get that OP has the controller already, but it seems like it'd just draw extra watts without being useful at all. If there are six SATA ports on the motherboard, OP can fill the bays, use an SSD for a boot device, and still have a SATA port to spare.
Because I was suggesting that hard drives could be put in the 5.25 bays for a total of 6 HDDs on the SAS controller and use the SATA for the boot drives.
That's just one of many different ways to make it work.
I am not saying that my way is the only way.

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Chris Moore

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Just giving the OP information about options.

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brianm

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Thanks, useful information.
The disk controller is probably one of the make or break mysteries for FreeNas newbies like me because there are so many choices each with it's own magical set of capabilities and firmware. It was getting keen on building an HP DL380 server based FreeNas system until I ran into the problems of finding a suitable disk controller (then I found out about the lack of AES).
 

dimitrow

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Hello @Chris Moore

I know this is an old thread, but I have a problem with server like this (T110 II). I have a working FreeNas on this server with 3x1TB Seagate Barracuda and one small Samsung 2.5 hdd attached on the CD plug for boot. I have one free SATA plug and want to add another HDD there, but my FreeNAS wont detect it. If i switch the hdd with one of working one, the system is detected it. What can be my problem?
 
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