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zfs & btrfs instead of Hardware Raid


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Hi all HHS forum folk,

I am in the process of learning to use linux with a friend for fun:), and read about 5 months ago about ZFS used in a business application replacing NAS boxes and have heard and read on Wikipedia about Btrfs, which made me think, I could when I have learned to use linux sufficiently, setup a fileserver consisting of:


baremetal-> openbsd(zfs host) or linux distro supporting Btrfs


vitualized -> WHS vail, other


I would than only use the baremetal OS for hdd fault tolerance.

This should provide me with a very cheap RAID 5, 6 or triple parity setup, that has been tested for a few years in the enterprise market and I therefore feel safe:) and because of the virtualazation would still have WHS functionality:)


Does this sound realistic?


I have been listening to the BYOB podcast and have not yet heard them/you talk about such a setup (I would imagine because of the learning curve).



please tell me if you think this topic should be in "the builders forum"

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Guest no-control

Sounds overly complicated for a home build. I also don't see the point of the exercise, other than education or is it cost? What are you trying to achieve?


If you want Cheap RAID and VM platform. use software RAID on any modern mobo or get a $100 RAID card and use either ESXi, Hyper-V, or Xen for your hypervisor.



The reason you never hear me bring up Linux in any of our podcasts is not due to learning curve. It's that I do not see a need for it such an obscure o/s. I have yet to find a Linux distro that has a superior experience over anything Microsoft has for server o/s. It's fine for NAS boxes and networking. Not sure what the other BYOB guys feel about it as we never really discussed it.

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with software raid, what solutions are you talking about, cheap raid controler with raid implemented in the driver or the raid supported by win server 2008 r2 or ?


The advantage is as with all software raid solutions in that I can use "cheap" controller cards, and I am less dependent on specific hardware.


I am also thinking of 10+ disk arrays/systems and therefore I cannot just by a cheap 4 port controller if I use hardware RAID

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Guest no-control

Like I said you need to define what the purpose of the build is. We cannot answer a question like you posed as its highly subjective. Without telling us what you want it to do we'll be hard pressed to attempt to recommend anything. "does this sound realistic?" was the question posed. So IMHO, I don't think it is for a home server (assumed use). It seems overly complicated when you can use a cheap RAID controller and freeware hypervisors.


Is this for home data or SOHO, SMB?

Is there a budget limit?

Is there a need/reason for a single solid array or can multiple arrays exist?

What is the ultimate purpose of this unit? (Testing, sandbox, VM Server, File server, Web server, FTP server, DB Server, etc...)

What are the host Operating Systems want to run?


An example of a suggestion, while technically correct its not really the answer your looking for:

You can run full hardware RAID with a cheap RAID Card and an expander card and effectively have 32 drives in an array. You can also run 10+ drives in 4 drive arrays with cheap RAID cards. Do you need the full 10+ array in a single volume? Also consider if non-GPT implementations will limit you to a 2tb VHD? Then what is the point of such a large array?

None of these are really answering your question, but it still apply in some aspect.


I'm also not very familiar with any of the platforms you mentioned so that might be lack of understanding on my end. smile.gif

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The system is a production box with testing functionality(provide through VM support).


I was thinking of implementing a router(using astoro's gateway software) on my home server (not SMB/SOHO), and running WHS along side with that, and set aside some space for testing and running learning system.


so what I would like to implement is a system where I feel that my data is safe from HDD errors/hardware errors (still can't decide if RAID 5 is sufficient as I would calculate 4-6 hours rebuild time for a 2 TB per disk array), where I can run as a minimum a NAS or WHS type software(NAS with backup and remote management/access functionality). I would in order to supply me with secure remote access and roaming like to implement a vpn solution to my home, and I would like to keep power down and uptime is fairly important, as I am using this as my primary access to the internet from home( do have a NAT supporting wireless router).


The reason for running linux/unix would be to have the file system functionality(cheap and reliable RAID) and to feel safe having my main box connected directly to the internet(don't know if vm software or the O/S allows locking network traffic from a NIC to a specific VM).


Price, needs to be cheep(thinking of getting 1P low end server hardware, but this stretches my budget a lot), and all the hardware raid cards, that support RAID 5 or 6, I have found in my country are fairly expensive for my budget(300 USD).


my system currently does not have an UPS and this will be my next investment as they cost roughly the same as a 2 TB HDD.


I do not believe I need nor do I plan to have an monolithic array, but multiple smaller ones(mainly because I have different size disk, 3 x 500 GB ,4 x 1 TB), but I feel, since the rebuild time for an array is long and only increasing over time, that I need to provide a hot spare in order to secure my data(have backup to wuala and/or Corsair survivor USB stick of the most important data). I have looked at what a hardware RAID array supporting 32 disk using the HP SAS expander and a hardware RAID card to be 1040 USD as the SAS expander is 3200 DKK.


I have not used this system either and you have not talked about the existing file system implementations on other platforms, so I thought I would ask if this sounds like a realistic idea before I spend to much time on it:)


Hope this answers your questions, please ask if more info is needed:)

Edited by stalni
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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm with you on this. I like the wealth of features in ZFS very much and think Microsoft would gain a lot implimenting a file system like ZFS or BTRFS. You should consider making a Solaris 11 server with some inexpensive x86/64 parts, the OS, with ZFS is free. ZFS was created by SUN on Solaris and is native on Solaris 9, 10, and 11. ZFS has good write performance, and is a self healing filing system and doesn't have many of the problems that RAID5 has. ZFS was designed from the ground up with Data integrity in mind to protect against "bit rot". ECC memory is recommended but not required. Snapshots and Clones are also a feature due to the Copy On Write (COW) filing system which is remotely similar to MS Shadow files. ZFS also containes many other features like pool, or folder De-Duplication as part of the file system if enabled. Since it can be setup with RAIDZ, RAIDZ2, or RAIDZ3, or RAIDZ Mirror or a RAIDZ 3 disk Mirror, you don't need to have any special RAID hardware since the operating system must handle everything, and does so efficiently. The only drawback that I can see to ZFS is that you can not add a disk to the pool at this time, they are working on it. You need to copy the data to another pool and break the disk pool and reform the pool with the additional drives, which is a simple task, but you must store your data somewhere in the mean time. ZFS is Open Source software under one of the license schemes that is compatible with FreeBSD, therefore FreeBSD can and has used ZFS.


BTRFS = B-tree Filing System, and is similar to ZFS. It was created because of the license incompatibility between what Solaris had and the GNU license that linux is under. BTRFS is in several of the linux versions such as Fedora 13,14 and Ubuntu 10.10 and maybe a few others. BTRFS is still a work in progress and far from finished. It took SUN more that 5 years to develop ZFS to what it is now. BTRFS is only a couple of years along and will be a few more years before it is ready for "Production".


NTFS is very old at this point (introduced in Windows NT, but designed much earlier in the mid 90's on OS/2) and past due for a face lift. I can only imagine that Microsoft is working on some new filing system to rival these two. Hopefully we will see something like ZFS soon on WHS in the near future???

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