Home > Work related > Building a Network File System for use with Virtual Machines

Building a Network File System for use with Virtual Machines

One of the most important parts to a computer and one that is the hardest to maintain is the file system or disk. Most systems use a local file system and that is fine for the majority of applications but inevitable the disk fails and you lose your data or OS.

RAID (redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) has helped prolong the local file system and some people have great success with various hardware and software versions of this approach but now that we have LAN speeds of 10G the advent of using a remote file system that is shared amongst our servers and workstations seems our best solution.

I wanted to use the new iSCSI approach to communicating with a remote array but it seems more and more efficient and popular to use an almost 30 year old approach called NFS.

There are a few file system operating systems available for free to use that allow the user to setup  a computer with hard drives and some type of RAID configuration so I took an old P4 X86 computer I had to use for my new (old) file server.

FreeNAS-SystemI had run Windows 2003 on this but I found that the OS overhead coupled with the poor NFS/iSCSI support forced my to run it with Linux/BSD variant instead. I know that Open Filer would run on a small partition on the hardware RAID controller I had but the Adaptec 2100 was not supported in the 32 bit version of OpenFiler 2.3. (I have used it for clients with an HP rack mount server without problems and it runs surprisingly stable too). I choose to grab the new version of FreeNAS that uses the FreeBSD kernel and it would prove a surprise to be able to run with all my old hardware. The only caveat is that I could not run it on a USB/Compact Flash drive and had to settle for an old IDE hard drive to run the OS. Reports-FreeNAS


It comes as no surprise that I can setup a RAID5 drive of approx. 100G using some old 36G SCSI drives and put in a Broadcom NIC to be able to run VMs using this remote NFS server.

With an old 2.4G Generic motherboard and less that 1G of RAM anyone can have safe online storage that can enable your VM servers to run more efficiently with less resources. 

Categories: Work related
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