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Just bought a Gen* Microserver - where to start?


Agrajag
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Hi all,
 
I recently picked up a Gen8 Microserver to replace my aging atom based homebrew server and after much googling I've landed here. This is my first post so I want to apologise in advance for any stickies I may have missed or stupid questions I'm about to ask...
 
The server is a cracking bit of kit. There was a cashback offer on when I bought it so for the money I'm truly impressed especially how it compares to my old server which as I recall cost more or less the same in parts and isn't nearly as nice.
 
My old server was XP based (I know) so I've decided to take a fresh look at my options and what I can do with the server. I was hoping you would be able to offer the benefit of your experience. Right now I'm still at the mucking about stage but I'm keen to start building something concrete.
 
Basically I want it to act as a home file server. It'll be hosting media to a couple of raspberry pi kodi boxes, music to a Sonos system as well as general file server duties to a Windows 8 desktop and a couple of laptops. 
 
I also want it to run a torrent client and connect to the internet via a VPN. I expect it to run headless in my cloakroom so expect to make full use of the iLO.
 
From a hardware point of view I want to pack it full of storage so 4x  2/3TB NAS disks (WD Red or similar) and a SSD in place of the ODD for OS and so on.
 
I'm guessing this is a pretty standard use case so I was just wondering how you guys run your servers with the above? I'm playing with Ubuntu Server at the moment which is looking pretty good, though I'm a Windows Server admin by day so this is kind of new to me.
 
My main concern is how to configure the disks - so stuff I'm wondering:
  • Should I use the on-board controller or configure them as a RAID5 in the OS? Pros and cons of each?
  • What kind of OS to use - Windows Server 2012 or some opensource flavour of unix. I've heard interesting things about Windows Storage Spaces. Does anyone use it or have any opinions on it?

Another idea I've had is to run it as a ESXi host from the onboard SD card slot running a few different VMs - one for file serving, a remote jump box using the second nic in a DMZ, one for torrents etc?

 

Sorry I'm being vague, really I'm just curious to see what you guys do with yours, what I need to watch out for, etc.

 

Thanks

 

A.

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If you're wanting to run it solely as a FS, then why not load unRAID onto a memory stick and run that? You can tack on further plugins to enable extra functionality such as plex, sabnzbd, sickbeard, openvpn etc.. or use Docker! Bear in mind you wont be using the iLO for remote control once the OS boots unless you purchase an advanced iLO license. (unRAID is web-based; you can also telnet into it) I personally have a Gen8 thats running esxi, and a Gen7 thats running unRAID and both serve their purpose :)

Edited by Trunkz
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Thanks for that - unraid certainly looks interesting. I had also considered using Freenas but I'm concerned at the memory requirements. I suppose the other alternative is Win Server 2012 and storage spaces.

 

Lots of things to consider - thank you.

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