Revisiting MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet3 min read

If you’re reading this revision first it’s probably better to read my initial plan as well before continuing as there are more details outlined there as to my overall goal and information about the hardware setup. You can read this here.

Right, so, at this point I was to make a post about how I setup the storage under FreeNAS running on ESXI with both RDM on one machine and passthrough on the other with the upgraded CPU but I ran into some problems. Pretty shitty ones.

Upon setting up RDM (which I am aware is not the best way to do this, as I explained in previous posts) and initializing FreeNAS with a RAIDZ I started to do some testing to make sure everything was working okay; it was, kind of. I started doing some writes and reads from the pool over my gigabit network and the speeds were pretty bad, I was writing at about 10-20MBps and reading at about 50MBps. Shit. Maybe RDM isn’t working too well on this box? Well, if that’s the case I will just have to upgrade the CPU to a VT-d compatible one like I have with the other host and just do passthrough, fine.

Let’s see what the performance is like with the passthrough enabled machine shall we? Apparently not. The B210i on the HP MS Gen8 refused to passthrough, after hours off trying, googling, reinstalling different images of ESXI I gave up and found an LSI 9211-8i I had in a box. After much more pain I passed through the card and setup FreeNAS again and started testing. Same shit. Speeds were much better but nowhere near what I would call acceptable for whatever reason, now I’m thinking that the MS either just isn’t up to the task or ESXI is getting in the way somehow since I have limited resources as it is. Let’s try FreeNAS running on bare metal.

I installed FreeNAS on the machine with the upgraded CPU, if anything has a chance it’s this box. Installed FreeNAS to a USB drive (leaving my ESXI install alone so I could come back to it) and reconfigured the pool as a RAIDZ. After all was done and shares were setup I moved an 8GB file to the machine at near full gigabit speed and read it back as fast as my network would permit. Fucking. A.

At this point my initial plan of making these machines into ESX servers for expandability/management can fuck right off. FreeNAS is working fine on bare metal and I can’t complain with that so I changed the plan. The following revision should shed some light on the new plan, although a lot less exciting and adventurous, it just works, and works well.


So what’s changed?

  • The MicroServers are now running bare metal FreeNAS as opposed to ESXI.
  • MUFFHOST03 (host in my house) now runs the upgraded CPU as I have more need for the upgraded hardware with this setup.
  • I am still planning on running pfSense but it will be running on an old Dell Optiplex I will dig out of one of my stashes instead of the ESX host.
  • I now have a 250GB SSD in each of these systems which isn’t needed, I will be using these as a read cache (L2ARC).

Most of the previous prep work still applies and will be linked below, the other steps that I did will remain on the site but out of the following steps as they will be blown away now.

  1. The plan.
  2. Preparing and upgrading the Microservers.
  3. Installing and configuring FreeNAS.
  4. Setting up the storage on the MicroServers.
  5. Setting up PTP link in PfSense and networking.
  6. Moving one of the servers and testing.
  7. BEERS!

1 thought on “Revisiting MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet3 min read

  1. Hi,

    did you continue to use the LSI board with FreeNAS or you used the integrated B210i controller ? I got myself a similar box and trying to find the best mix of software to run on it, to provide storage for the home possibly in the future 1-2 VMs for playing arround

    BTW is it B210i or B120i ? My box shows a B120i 🙂

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