Choosing hardware/software for home lab use case

Notice: Page may contain affiliate links for which we may earn a small commission through services like Amazon Affiliates or Skimlinks.

karpodiem

New Member
Jan 1, 2014
16
1
3
Hi there,

Long time reader and ZFS follower. I've been reading threads on ZFS for nearly two years now, just trying to get a feel for the different types of software/setups that are possible. I'm looking for a bit of guidance on what an appropriate software selection choice and hardware before I start spending money; I'm hoping to do a ZFS build this summer to replace an aging Q6600 server that presently acts as a datastore with 5x4TB WD Red drives w/StableBit Drivepool on Win8.1.

I consider myself an intermediate level user - I feel pretty comfortable on the Windows/Linux command line. Not much Unix/networking experience.

I do some C#/.NET development though, so I'm looking to grow my skills as I become a better developer as I branch out.

I would like to have a ZFS datastore that can

- Host my 6TB of user data (I've been recording University of Michigan Football/Basketball/Hockey games in HD since 07, Go Blue!)
- Host 2 Windows Server VMs - One for a Domain Controller, the other for SQL Server 2014
- One Linux Server VM to dabble in
- Some spare storage for Time Machine backups, for the mac users in my household

Here's where I'm having a bit of trouble -

- So, a hexa-core Xeon with 32GB ECC would most likely be appropriate, yes?
- Can't decide between FreeNAS, napp-it, or Proxmox. Any suggestions for the use case I've described thus far?
- How does pool architecture work for installing the OS? What would you recommend for setting up the various datastore/OS pools?
- I use Backblaze for the 6TB I have stored; I'd like to use iSCSI to facilitate the continued use of Backblaze. Is this possible with this setup?
- Would an SSD cache for the pool containing the OSs be advisable?

If you guys have any Paypal/bitcoin addresses you'd like to share for your advice, please include them in your comments. I feel like some guidance here would probably save me from data loss/headaches - your wisdom is appreciated!
 

neo

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
672
363
63
With your requirements, I personally would suggest more then 32GB of RAM.
 

MiniKnight

Well-Known Member
Mar 30, 2012
3,072
973
113
NYC
That's a really good question. So you are looking for an all-in-one. I might actually suggest using ESXi too. Very good for AIO's and personally I think VMware does better than KVM at Windows virtualization. You could also do Hyper-V and run everything else as a guest and pass through the hard drives. The nice thing is that for what you're doing, you have a lot of options.

I think there are fundamental questions you need answered:

- Do you want the ZFS hosted on bare metal or virtualized?
  • If bare metal, then you are doing ZoL, SmartOS (or similar) with Napp-it, or FreeBSD like FreeNAS and nas4free. I would probably go with a CentOS or Ubuntu server install, install KVM and manage that way if I were being brutally honest.
  • If virtualized, ESXi and Hyper-V are good options
- What are you most comfortable with or what do you want to learn to use for virtualization?

- Realistically, how big is this system going to get? These days you can oversubscribe your RAM in ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM (with Linux works, Windows is more flaky than the others)

At first read I thought you're so close to just being able to get one of those Xeon D boxes reviewed on the main site and just being done with it. Just 1 too many drives (it only takes 4). You could even do 4x 3.5" many TB hard drives, then get a cheapo Fusion-io (if you're using Hyper-V) for L2ARC/ ZIL and get 16GB DIMMs easily. You would learn more doing this. I don't know if the napp-it on ZoL is still being developed but there was a version. If you do go D, I'd get 2x 16GB then add either 8's or 16's later as prices fall and you use the system more.
 

akarpo

New Member
May 19, 2015
2
0
1
38
"I would probably go with a CentOS or Ubuntu server install, install KVM and manage that way if I were being brutally honest."

So in this model you describe, I would install Ubuntu on bare metal, install KVM, install napp-it inside this KVM, present the disks to the napp-it appliance through PCI-passthrough, and install additional operating systems through the KVM since napp-it is 'passing through' the datastores? I thought I recall reading at one point that ZFS doesn't like PCI passthrough, I certainly could be wrong though.

(Sorry if I explained any of this incorrectly, this is where I'm having a bit of trouble)
 

karpodiem

New Member
Jan 1, 2014
16
1
3
the virtualization part is a bit scary - from what I've read, ESXi can't take snapshots? Is this true with Hyper-V as well?

The purpose of the VMs is to serve as a domain controller/SQL server/development prototyping. I'll be making quite a few mistakes along the way, so I'll be leaning on snapshots pretty heavily.

The datastore grows by about 300-400GB a year. I'll be adding two additional 4TB drives, for 7x4TB total in RAIDZ2. I don't mind spending the money by getting 2x480GB SSDs for the operating system VMs, if it reduces the setup/shared resource complexity. Just looking for something that is stable/has decent performance/doesn't get into rube-goldberg level of configuration complexity.

(btw, the akarpo reply is mine as well, the board software is getting a bit derpy - https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/server-error.5754/)