new home server questions

modulus

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Oct 22, 2013
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I am looking to build a small home server. Compared to most regular people I consider myself computer savvy but compared to most people here I am probably more a novice. I guess I would probably be in the prosumer category.

Purpose:
Store my personal movie collection to stream to small media players connected to my televisions.
Also double as backup storage for personal documents, photos, home videos from our main computers.

Parts:
Case: Already got a Lian Li PC-Q18 from a friend. It has found a good location in my home that my wife is happy with. Don't really want to change this.
Hard Drives: 6 x 3.5" drives, probably 4TB wd reds
I am thinking of running Freenas via a usb drive. I have used freenas before and like it's web interface because it's something I can handle. I do not feel comfortable leaving everything to CLI.
So the drives will probably be run in a raidz2.
The server will be connected via gigabit ethernet.

Question:
Motherboard/CPU options.
Mini-itx seems like the limiting factor. The two options I am considering are either something xeon 1220v3 based or something avoton c2750 based, but it seems like in either case there's not a lot of options. I know some might say bag server parts and ecc but I want to stick with it.
So if I go 1220v3, what mini-itx motherboard options are there? I see the Asrock E3C226D2I
It looks like a viable option.
If I go avoton the two options seem to be either Supermicro A1SAi-2850F or Asrock C2750D4I

I only need 6 sata ports so all those options seem to fulfill that. Part of me kind of prefers the Avoton options because things are going to be tight in the case and the case is going in an area without a lot of airflow. Either way I will probably put in 16GB ECC memory.

So do those options seem reasonable for what my uses are? Are there any other Avoton or haswell xeon mini-itx options out there? I'm getting ready to pull the trigger and these parts don't seem widely available yet. Also, what are good store for buying server parts like this? I'm used to amazon and newegg but their sever part selection doesn't seem the greatest.

This seemed like a good forum for the types of questions I had. Thank you all for your help.
 

Patrick

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Dec 21, 2010
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Welcome to the forums!

mITX options are few, which is a real bummer. I am actively pushing vendors to start offering more sub-mATX form factor options.

Avoton has significantly more processing power than 99% of 6-disk NAS units will require.

Here is a point of consideration (and I just finished recording a video for this): FreeNAS 9.1.1-RELEASE will not boot on an Avoton platform bare metal. You can however use ESXi and then run it in a virtual machine.
 

modulus

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Oct 22, 2013
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I know this isn't FreeNAS hq or anything, and this probably goes along with my overall lack of knowledge, but why won't freenas boot on avoton bare metal? Is that hardware not supported?

Flipping through the freenas forums people seem to be sporting all kinds of different hardware and there's talk of people wanting to use one of the c2750 options. Whatever route I go, running it on bare metal would be my preference so if that's not an option with avoton I likely would go the other route.
 

33_viper_33

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Aug 3, 2013
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Avoton is new and contains hardware that doesn't have driver support in many OS. Give it time and I'm sure it will be supported. Like Patrick said, visualize it with ESXi and it will run great.

With any luck, more venders will jump on board with mITX platforms. I find Avoton attractive but all the current boards lack a mPCIe slot for wireless.
 

Patrick

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Dec 21, 2010
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I know this isn't FreeNAS hq or anything, and this probably goes along with my overall lack of knowledge, but why won't freenas boot on avoton bare metal? Is that hardware not supported?

Flipping through the freenas forums people seem to be sporting all kinds of different hardware and there's talk of people wanting to use one of the c2750 options. Whatever route I go, running it on bare metal would be my preference so if that's not an option with avoton I likely would go the other route.
Here is the standard boot:
[video=youtube_share;la7av4t8hSk]http://youtu.be/la7av4t8hSk[/video]

This is something that will get fixed. Generally Windows and Linux default installers have better hardware support for new hardware.
 

foongkev

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Oct 11, 2013
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Sydney
Hi modulus,

Any particular reason why you wouldn't want to virtualize it through ESXi? Just curious.

I've just started implementing my own virtualized server and I think it will help future proof your setup i.e. implementing future hardware or OS upgrades. You could even troubleshoot issues from any PC without accessing the physical server when there's issues accessing the freeness webgui.

But then again, it may add another layer to 'manage' if you just want a very quick and easy implementation and you want to keep it simple.
 

vegaman

Member
Sep 12, 2013
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Auckland, New Zealand
@foongdev there's still a couple of problems going that route of Avoton.

AFAIK Avoton doesn't support VTd, which leaves you with RDM or making VMDKs on the drives if you want to virtualise your storage. Neither of which are recommended options - reliability and performance problems from what I've read. RDM isn't even officially supported by VMWare.

And IPMI already provides (even better) out of band management.
 
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Salami

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Oct 12, 2012
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I guess that makes sense for a simple setup.

RDM isn't officially supported by VMWare? Interesting.

That is not uncommon for big software companies, they "officially support" as little as possible to keep down support costs.
 

talsit

Member
Aug 8, 2013
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I guess that makes sense for a simple setup.

RDM isn't officially supported by VMWare? Interesting.
FWIW: I've been booting an Ubuntu VM off a 1TB drive RDM'd to the VM for 18 months or so now (home lab). It runs an indexer that downloads and indexes every ten minutes and I've never had an issue with it's performance or reliability. I don't know that I would rely on it for something mission critical but, in theory, even if the RDM failed for some reason you SHOULD be able to pull the RDM'd drive and boot from it.

The other VM's on that server include unRAID. I have 2 HBAs passed through (VT-d) with 12 HDDs and I use that to provide mapped drives to another Server 2012 VM with Plex set up to provide a DLNA server to stream content to my smart tvs, HTPC, IOS and Android devices.

Another option would be to use unRaid baremetal via USB drive and install Plex or AirVideo plug-ins to serve content. I use Crashplan to back up my home computers to my unRaid VM and then from my unRaid VM to the Crashplan server (currently 8TB of backup on Crashplan).

Also, going baremetal with something like unRaid reduces your hardware cost significantly, you can utilize an inexpensive consumer grade board and low cost processor to run unRaid. unRaid can support up to 24 drives (1 parity, 1 cache, 22 data drives) and runs comfortably in 512MB of memory (though I use 4GB for mine, it fixed an issue I had with Crashplan).

EDIT: Also, as another FWIW, I've run unRaid on an ASROCK A75M micro-ATX motherboard with an AMD A8 processor with no issues. I was testing stuff so I didn't push it too hard and I didn't need VT-d because I was using 3 HDDs connected to 3 of the 5 SATA ports on the motherboard. Stepping away from server grade hardware will greatly open up your possible solutions.
 
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modulus

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Oct 22, 2013
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I've thought about going the virtualization route but at the end of the day I think I just want the setup to be as simple as possible. The less going on the better.
 

talsit

Member
Aug 8, 2013
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In that case, I'd strongly suggest unRaid. It boots from a USB drive and can meet all of your specified tasks with very little tinkering for much less hardware cost than you are thinking about right now.
 

otri

New Member
Aug 21, 2011
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Bremen, Germany
Hello Patrick,

did you check again whether FreeNAS 9.2.1 boots on either the Supermicro or Asrock C2550/2750 boards. It looks like there's a commercial product available which contains the 8 core Asrock board and runs with FreeNAS. Although I have concerns because there were reports on Bios issues with the Asrock boards.

FreeNAS Mini - ZFS Storage | iXsystems, Inc.

Cheers, Oli
 

Nindustries

New Member
Nov 11, 2013
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Hello Patrick,

did you check again whether FreeNAS 9.2.1 boots on either the Supermicro or Asrock C2550/2750 boards. It looks like there's a commercial product available which contains the 8 core Asrock board and runs with FreeNAS. Although I have concerns because there were reports on Bios issues with the Asrock boards.

FreeNAS Mini - ZFS Storage | iXsystems, Inc.

Cheers, Oli
This was with the pre-production sample. Freenas has been running fine on the asrock c2750 board, confirmed by several users on the FN forums.