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My Adventure With Link Aggregation

Western Digital Drives - The Preferred Drives of FreeNAS and TrueNAS CORE
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elmerF

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May 9, 2018
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So, I just built a freenas system for home use - mostly to play with it, and see what it can do. Anyway, one objective was using it for media, Emby for now, and possibly others, so I wanted bandwidth, and thus link aggregation. I am using anEnGenius EWS1200-28T switch that I had already used with link aggregation to join with an Asus router (another story).

Being cheap, I bought a $20 dual nic card that reviewers said worked with Windows server:


- SYBA 2 Port Ethernet PCIe x 1 Card, Realtek RTL8111 Chipset SD-PEX24041 (do not order, stop! read on)


So, the adventure began. I watched a couple of YouTube videos (what’s with the Aussies and Freenas?) and oddly they showed setting up link aggregation using the GUI. Well, there is a “chicken and the egg” thing happening here. You have to have a network connection before you have a GUI, but trying to transfer to a link group appears to destroy the connection. I ended up using the console to set things up. Still not sure how they did the GUI thing - one guy used a second separate network - really? Not worth the hassle.


After many hours of reinstalls (including reformats of the freenas drive using gparted from a Manjaro live cd to get rid of residual setup files - see forums), I finally came to the conclusion that either my switch, or dual NIC was incompatible. As a last attempt, I purchased this card:


- Intel EXPI9402PT PRO/1000 PT Dual Port Server Adapter 10/100/1000Mbps PCI-Express 2 x RJ45 (yep, this worked!)


So, once I plugged the Intel card in, I did the following (the Engenius switch had previously been set for link aggregation using ports 3 and 4, trunk 2):


1. Went into the computer bios and disabled the NIC on the motherboard.
2. Plugged one port of the dual NIC into a regular port (not set for link aggregation) of the switch. Left other port unplugged.
3. Fresh Freenas install to newly formated disk.
4. After some time, the simple console appeared along with an IP address for GUI.
5. Select 2 from the menu and create a LAGG group using both named ports rem0 and rem1 for me. You add rem0 by typing 1, then rem1 appears, and you also type 1, then since there are no ports left, it quits. You now have lagg0.
6. Select menu item 1 and set up lagg0. It will ask for an IP (I used the IP already pulled for the GUI), a gateway (my router), and a dns (also in my case the router).
7. Reboot using the menu.
8. As the system reboots, plug dual nic port one and two into the link aggregation ports you setup on the switch.
9. The system comes back up to the simple console and you’ll see a GUI IP - same as before.
10. Go to another computer and pull up the GUI. If the GUI appears, you’re done!
11. Best pull up your router and set the given IP to static.


Once I had the right equipment it was really very easy. Hope this helps someone. Opensource forever! Thanks Freenas devs!
 

Ericloewe

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- SYBA 2 Port Ethernet PCIe x 1 Card, Realtek RTL8111 Chipset SD-PEX24041 (do not order, stop! read on)
That's the cardinal rule of networking. Do not buy Realtek, unless it's in a crap switch that nobody cares about.

But now you've got me curious... The RTL8111 is a rock-bottom nasty-ass piece of crap PCIe GbE controller. It only does one port... How do they stick two of them on one card? This can only work with a PCIe switch, but those are damned expensive. Are 3-port PCIe switches really cheap enough to use to power two RTL8111s?
 

Bidule0hm

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Aug 5, 2013
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But now you've got me curious... The RTL8111 is a rock-bottom nasty-ass piece of crap PCIe GbE controller. It only does one port... How do they stick two of them on one card? This can only work with a PCIe switch, but those are damned expensive. Are 3-port PCIe switches really cheap enough to use to power two RTL8111s?

Or they use one NIC with a GbE switch chip... that would be really crappy... but hey, that's a Realtek product after all...

Edit: looked at pictures of the card, can't be that. Seems like there's two RTL8111 and one other mysterious chip, can't see the ref as the pictures I found are too small.
 
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Ericloewe

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Has to be a three-port PCIe switch. I'm just amazed at the effort they went to just to provide twice the crappiness of one RTL8111.
 
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