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UncleFester's FreeNAS Beginners Guide

UncleFester

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Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
52
Hello to you all,

Here is a basic beginners guide for FreeNAS 9.10 written by a beginner.

It provides all the information you need in one place to create a very basic FreeNAS server.

As Fester acquires more knowledge he will try to add to this guide (time permitting).

The guide is in the form of a wiki.

One wiki was created by @danb35 . Here is the link.

https://www.familybrown.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=fester:intro

Another wiki was created on the official FreeNAS wiki page. Here is the link.

https://wiki.freenas.org/index.php/Uncle_Fester's_Guide

(Personally I prefer @danb35's, but that is just my preference)

The document is released under a Creative Commons licence. This means anyone can alter, add, update, contribute, replace, etc any or all of the sections in the document for noncommercial purposes, so feel free to do so.

If you would like to become a contributor you will need to register. Details on this can be found on the wiki.

Many thanks to reviewers @Sakuru and @DiViDeR for peer reviewing the document and their very helpful suggestions.

Many thanks also to @danb35 for wikifying and greatly improving the original guide and for suggesting a wiki in the first place.

I must give a special thanks to @cyberjock , @Ericloewe , @jgreco , @joeschmuck , @Glorious1 , @diedrichg , @depasseg , @anodos and @qwertymodo (to name but a few). This guide is mostly based on the knowledge these people were kind enough to place on the FreeNAS Community Forum. In fact without the people mentioned previously there would be no Fester's guide.

The document was not peer reviewed by a FreeNAS expert as I would have wanted so there maybe some errors.

Now I'm off to FreeNAS the crap out of my server. Best of luck to you :D.

Thanks.

Uncle Fester.

(Note to the Admins: If the guide proves useful would you move it to the correct section. Thanks.)
 
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Mirfster

Doesn't know what he's talking about
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Oct 2, 2015
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As Fester acquires more knowledge he will add to this guide (time permitting).
Mirfster is wary of those who talk about themselves in third person... ;)

Grabbed a copy of the PDF and will be happy to look at it as time permits.
 

UncleFester

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
52
Thank you Mirfister.

Would appreciate anyone who knows about FreeNAS to take a look at the guide and make sure the info is correct.

Mirfster is wary of those who talk about themselves in third person... ;)
Your instincts serve you well (cue maniacal laughter) :D
 

Dice

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Holy hell, that is a lot of work!!
 

danb35

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Aug 16, 2011
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I've just started looking at the guide, and I see you're strongly encouraging community contributions to it. It seems like putting it on a wiki would make this quite a bit easier. Have you considered that?
 

UncleFester

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2016
Messages
52
Hello @danb35,

It never occured to me to make this a wiki. In fact when you mentioned it I had to go and look it up to find out what it was :oops:. Please excuse my ignorance.

In fact "wiki" was my Grandmothers euphemistic term for a *****. So when you said

It seems like putting it on a wiki would make this quite a bit easier.
I was initially quite alarmed :D

Your idea is an excellent one and I will look into it. Not a clue what is involved to start/setup a wiki.

If anyone has any advice on how to get my wiki up let me know. :D

Thanks.

Uncle Fester
 
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danb35

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Aug 16, 2011
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If anyone has any advice on how to get my wiki up let me know.
I'd expect the psychopath you live with to have better ideas on this... (-: Seriously, though, I'd be glad to host one on my server, though I think this piece is the best argument yet for iX to host a FreeNAS wiki. I'll try to get something set up in the next couple of days and post a link.
 

danb35

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Aug 16, 2011
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At work now, so I can't work on setting up the wiki, but I have some time to browse through the guide--I'm about 1/3 of the way through right now. There are a few things here and there that I'd do differently, but the one thing that I think is fairly significant is your use (and recommendation) of multiple NICs on your server. What's your rationale for the recommendation that the FreeNAS box have at least two NICs, and for assigning IPs on the same subnet to all four NICs on your box? This is not something that's likely to work as you expect; see https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/multiple-network-interfaces-on-a-single-subnet.20204/.
 

Mirfster

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I just had time to only get to Section 4; here are some quick notes I jotted:

If using a SAMBA share (SAMBA is basically a program that runs on your server that provides file and print sharing services to other computers connected to the server via your network) then a 3GHz plus CPU is recommended.
*Not sure if I agree with this..

2 NICs are recommended
*Not sure if I agree with this..

Use NAS recommended HDDs
*Not sure if I agree with this..

A SATA DOM or Solid State Device (SSD) is recommended. If your budget does not stretch this far you can use a high quality USB device
*When did SATA DOM get recommended, I must have missed this

If a RAID card must be used flash it to IT Mode or JBOD
*Need to note that not all RAID Cards can be flashed to support IT Mode
*Also, just because a RAID Card "claims" that is can do JBOD does not really mean it does so "cleanly"
*Can't put it into the reader's head that all Hardware Raid Cards can/may work...

Although the ZFS file system, along with the ZIL is designed to stop data corruption when experiencing a power outage, apparently it can still happen (I don’t know how or why??).
*Reference: JGreco's "Some insights into SLOG/ZIL with ZFS on FreeNAS"

Whatever UPS you choose make sure it is supported on the Network UPS Tools (NUT) hardware compatibility list. This will allow the server via an attached USB cable to monitor the UPS
*Not a "show stopper" IMHO. More of a "Preferred" or "Nice to have"

Have a good supply of cable ties, these will help you with cable management
*I prefer velcro strips, easier and are removable/reusable
 

Bidule0hm

Server Electronics Sorcerer
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*When did SATA DOM get recommended, I must have missed this
Since USB sticks are utter crap... gone through 2 in less than a year so I switched to SSD to not be bothered by that a third time :)

*Not a "show stopper" IMHO. More of a "Preferred" or "Nice to have"
I'd say it's more than recommended because without NUT compatibility FreeNAS doesn't know it must shutdown.
 

Mirfster

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UncleFester

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Feb 8, 2016
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52
Hello @danb35,

Thanks for taking a look at the guide and the wiki stuff. Much appreciated.

Due to my lack of knowledge/experience with servers in general and FreeNAS in particular, I imagine there will be a number of things in the guide that will need changing.
This is why I wanted an expert to peer review the guide before unleashing it on an unsuspecting public :eek:

You asked

What's your rationale for the recommendation that the FreeNAS box have at least two NICs
I don't know :eek:. The guide has taken so long to write I am having trouble remembering :D.
I think I may have got confused.
The rationale behind 2 NICs was to keep the IMPI and server traffic separate. My server is totally headless. I don't really use an SSH console at the moment due to the fact that I don't know many commands so I remotely view the server via KVM over IP (if that's the correct terminology). I am told this can take up a lot of bandwidth.
Unfortunately, I failed to mention any of this in the guide and the guide states quite clearly

2 NICs are recommended (this does not include the IPMI NIC)
So I can see why you asked this question.

Should that be changed to just one NIC?

You also asked

and for assigning IPs on the same subnet to all four NICs on your box?
There was no rationale behind that.
I had a gigabit switch not doing anything at the time, so I put all four NICs out of the server into that and then my computer into the switch (I am the only one who uses the server). I assumed by keeping everything (i.e. server and client) on the same switch I would get better speeds between the two (I didn't have load balancing in mind to be honest). The switch then connects to the router.
The idea behind giving all four NICs a static IP address was to keep them out of the range of the DHCP server in the router and I could bind things to them if I needed (e.g. FreeNAS GUI). It seemed like a good idea at the time :oops:.

Thanks for the link to the post by jgreco. First time I have seen it. I read it (three times), but I can't say I completely understood it. I assume the setup I proposed in the guide is bad practice?

The sooner this guide is a collaborative wiki the better :D
 
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UncleFester

Member
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Feb 8, 2016
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52
Hello Mirfister,

Thanks for the feedback on the guide. Much appreciated.

I was wondering if I can tempt you to elaborate a little on some of them.

If using a SAMBA share (SAMBA is basically a program that runs on your server that provides file and print sharing services to other computers connected to the server via your network) then a 3GHz plus CPU is recommended.
*Not sure if I agree with this..
I have very little understanding at present about SAMBA. I think the 3GHz recommendation come from SAMBA being single thread, so a fast CPU is needed.
What do you think should be written instead?

2 NICs are recommended
*Not sure if I agree with this..
Yes. Fester was clearly not taking his meds when he wrote this one.
Would this be better changed to 1 NIC and 1 IPMI NIC?

Use NAS recommended HDDs
*Not sure if I agree with this..
OK. Could you say why? Is there something I have missed?

If a RAID card must be used flash it to IT Mode or JBOD
*Need to note that not all RAID Cards can be flashed to support IT Mode
*Also, just because a RAID Card "claims" that is can do JBOD does not really mean it does so "cleanly"
*Can't put it into the reader's head that all Hardware Raid Cards can/may work...
Thanks. I was completely unaware of this. Would like to know more about the "cleanly" reference regarding RAID cards and JBOD.

JGreco's "Some insights into SLOG/ZIL with ZFS on FreeNAS"
Thanks for that. Did not understand a great deal of it.
Would I be correct in saying that as long as you stay away from RAID cards that use a write cache you avoid the "write hole" that can occur in a power outage.
Can I do without a UPS if I stick with HBAs in FreeNAS? :confused:

Have a good supply of cable ties, these will help you with cable management
*I prefer velcro strips, easier and are removable/reusable
Yep. Velcro is good and not just for computer cable management ;)
 

Sakuru

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UncleFester

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Feb 8, 2016
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Hello @Sakuru,

It's Mirfster, although I like your version :D
Appologies Mirfster. I'm just happy if I get my own name correct these days :D

No, a UPS is always recommended. It's not good for any system to just suddenly lose power.
Thanks Sakuru. Duly noted and thanks for the help with the guide (take a look at page 237 if you get time ;)).
 
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Mirfster

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*Disclaimer, these are just my thoughts so "take them with a grain of salt". Not trying to start any debates here... If in doubt. just look at the title under my name... :p

I have very little understanding at present about SAMBA. I think the 3GHz recommendation come from SAMBA being single thread, so a fast CPU is needed.
Agreed Samba is single threaded, but that is "per connection". While I do agree with suggesting a faster CPU for CIFS; my take is that if one were to focus on CPU speed over Cores, then they are not seeing the "bigger picture". FreeNas/FreeBSD will gladly take advantage of multiple cores for all other tasks (zfs, scrubs, jails, nfs, etc..). As with everything else, the decision is not as easy when other things are considered. So, in a sense your statement is true but for me I would take a 2.5GHz hex over a 3.0 quad (I fully expect rebuttals here, but this is just my opinion).

Per the 9.10 Manual:
Samba is single threaded, so CPU speed makes a big difference in CIFS performance. Your typical 2.5Ghz Intel quad
core or greater should be capable to handle speeds in excess of Gb LAN
while low power CPUs such as Intel Atoms
and AMD C-30sE-350E-450 will not be able to achieve more than about 30-40MB/sec typically. Remember that
other loading such as ZFS loading will also require CPU resources and may cause Samba performance to be less than
optimal.
What do you think should be written instead?
Maybe something similar to what is stated in the manual? They don't really require a particular CPU speed, but just make a vague statement.
If network speed is a requirement, consider both your hardware and the type of shares that you create. On the same
hardware, CIFS will be slower than FTP or NFS as Samba is single-threaded. If you will be using CIFS, use a fast
CPU.
Side Note: I do think it would be wise to mention that "Server" class hardware is recommended (not sure if I missed this or not)...

Would this be better changed to 1 NIC and 1 IPMI NIC?
Not sure really, it is always a good thing to have IPMI (also known as BMC or even iLO in HPs). Even better when it is dedicated. I guess that is fine to recommend a dedicated NIC for this since most Server Class hardware nowadays should have it anyways...

OK. Could you say why? Is there something I have missed?
Nah, I guess it is fine to leave it in as a recommendation. I can just foresee arguments being made for both sides of the case. But overall it should be fine.

Would I be correct in saying that as long as you stay away from RAID cards that use a write cache you avoid the "write hole" that can occur in a power outage.
Can I do without a UPS if I stick with HBAs in FreeNAS?
@Sakuru is correct, UPS is recommended. As far as the "write hole", in jgreco's thread he mentions an "unorthodox alternative" which I personally have tried. Keep in mind that in this scenario you would be using a RAID card with write cache and BBU... However, for the most part Hardware Raid cards are to be avoided IMHO. I am migrating away from this method to use some sweet Intel SSDs (thanks eBay..) that can handle this.

Yep. Velcro is good and not just for computer cable management ;)
Example of my preferred type. Just don't loop it through the eye and cut the pieces at least in half to make get more uses out of it. I hate having to cut plastic cable ties or how the ends are bulky. ;)

Appologies Mirfster. I'm just happy if I get my own name correct these days :D
No worries, I have been called worse. Milfster...MrFister. /geez I think that I just gave the rest new and "endearing" ways to refer to me now... o_O
 

danb35

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The rationale behind 2 NICs was to keep the IMPI and server traffic separate.
That makes sense, to a degree. The counterpoints would be that (1) IPMI has its own NIC anyway (though it can share a port if desired), (2) you ordinarily aren't going to be using the IP KVM that often, and (3) it really doesn't eat up that much bandwidth anyway. The only time I use the IP KVM on my IPMI-enabled servers is if I want to watch the boot process for errors; for everything else, I ssh in.

As a practical matter, just about any suitable motherboard is going to have multiple NICs anyway, so this isn't a big deal, but I wouldn't agree with a general recommendation to have at least two non-IPMI NICs on the motherboard. In the course of wikifying the guide, I just removed the two-NIC recommendation.

I assume the setup I proposed in the guide is bad practice?
With respect to the four NICs, yes, I think so. I'm not sure that it's harmful as such, but it isn't going to help anything. The "right" way to group multiple NICs together for the sake of increased bandwidth is via link aggregation, but see https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/lacp-friend-or-foe.30541/ for more information on that (in short: it's rarely useful in a home environment).

The sooner this guide is a collaborative wiki the better :D
Working on it, and it seems to be coming along nicely. I'm noticing that some sections, like the installation of FreeNAS itself, appear twice (once with the hardware burn-in instructions, and once in the "final installation" section). Any objection to breaking that out into its own section, and linking it to both places?
 

anodos

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I have very little understanding at present about SAMBA. I think the 3GHz recommendation come from SAMBA being single thread, so a fast CPU is needed.
What do you think should be written instead?
Well, a 3GHz single core Pentium 4 is a worse choice than a 2.4 GHz Atom C2750. The only times I've seen an smbd process constantly peg a core of a Xeon E5645 (2.4GHz) at 100% has been while running copying a large amount of 16KB files (about 2 GB of them). I performed the same test with the same data using an E3-1220 V2 (3.10GHz) and the performance was pretty much identical. Samba performance with the E3-1220 was marginally better for that one use case (single user, 100% writes, 16KB files), but not so dramatic that I would say "choose 3GHz". The difference was a matter of seconds rather than minutes, and small enough that I can't conclusively say that the CPU was what made the difference.

On the other hard, I can't seem to saturate gigabit with a 1.2GHz ARMv7 processor, and so I'd recommend something more powerful than that.

Samba definitely benefits from more cores/threads in a multi-user environment. Right now one of my samba servers has about 20 live smbd processes, which means theoretically it can peg 20 threads at 100% (of course other parts of my system would bottleneck before it reaches that point). In conclusion, it's complicated but for large sequential transfers the CPU is probably not going to be the limiting factor unless you're running 10 gigabit.
  • For home users with handful of clients, I'd probably recommend a Pentium G4400. It's a good price point and supports up to 64GB RAM. If you're planning to also do a decent amount of transcoding, I'd probably go with an i3 or a Xeon E3.
  • If it's a small office with moderate usage, I'd probably go with a G4400.
  • For business users with a decent amount of clients (or power users) I'd recommend an E5-1650. Lots of threads, lots of GHz, and supports buckets of RAM. The Xeon D-154x is probably also a good choice.
ZFS lives and dies by its cache. More RAM often helps performance more than more GHz (even with samba). If you're on a tight budget, more RAM will give you more bang for the buck than more GHz.
 
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