FreeNAS in VMWare ESXi - good or bad idea?

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Tekkie

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As I have a little CPU power to spare with my AMD 415e with 8GB RAM I thought I might split the box up using ESXi into a FreeNAS server and Firewall/Proxy server for the home network.

FreeNAS would get 2 cores and 7GB RAM, and the firewall/proxy server 1 core and 1GB RAM.

I've already got a INTeL NIC for the FreeNAS server which leaves the onboard RealTek for the firewall/proxy server, and as its a home network used for multimedia streaming sharing the 1GBit network shouldn't be much of a problem...
 

jgreco

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It'll probably work, but it's likely to have lower performance overall, since you'll be going through VMware as an abstraction layer.

You *might* be better off making a FreeBSD server out of it, if you're not planning to do anything too complicated. On the other hand, for webgui-based funness, it's hard to beat FreeNAS and pfSense.
 

Tekkie

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Wondering if the 8.1 package system would allow for the installation of m0n0wall etc....
 

jgreco

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Wondering if the 8.1 package system would allow for the installation of m0n0wall etc....

Pretty much "no".

There are problems inherent in integrating two userlands that are tightly coupled to the working guts of a UNIX system. Basically each will tend to trample on the other while each one does the steps needed to make the environment suitable for its own standalone operation. Until you actually get in there and do it (and yes, I've coded up such systems several times), it's easy to underestimate how much work a UNIX box does to get itself up and running in a sane configuration; the reason "stripped-down" systems like m0n0wall and FreeNAS work is because there are a limited number of tunables. A combined FreeNAS/pfSense release would be super cool but not likely to happen without a virtual marriage of development efforts on the base system.

What probably *would* be possible is an add-on package that added some basic firewall functionality, but it's unlikely to have the overall flexibility of m0n0wall or pfSense.
 
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