Failing with FreeNAS

Yesterday my lovely HP N36L Microserver that I run FreeNAS on decided that it was going to trash the USB memory stick that FreeNAS relies upon to boot.

I’m not sure what the cause is at the moment, whether it is FreeNAS having a funny half hour, the Microserver amusing itself at my expense or possibly my doing something wrong with a console command (though I don’t believe the last one is likely as I have not used it for a month).

When the error messages appeared last night I have to admit they sent me into something of a complete and utter state of panic.  Finding information on FreeNAS isn’t too difficult but I don’t find it as easy to get information on FreeBSD error messages (FreeBSD being the base for FreeNAS).

Thankfully after some logical thinking (it was complaining about drives so I removed all of them) I concluded that the USB stick itself was the cause of all the problems.  With a bit of command prompt tinkering I was able to make FreeNAS boot to a console with the drives in and confirm that it could mount the ZFS file system without issue.

Since it seems that the USB stick is beyond saving (baring some miracle), I shall be re-doing my FreeNAS build at some point this week.  If I get the time then I will take loads of sexy screenshots and write the process up as at the moment I think the Plugins available for FreeNAS are absolutely horrid compared to the result you can have with a bit of DIY.

This time I shall attempt to correct issues that I’ve had previously and add in some more functionality:

  • Use the pre-release version of FreeNAS (now FreeNAS 8.3) in the hopes this enables me to use the most current FreeBSD ports tree.
  • Install and use Portmaster so I have a tool to make sure there is better control over the ports installation process (until I gain a better understanding).
  • Programs running in the Plugins jail need to stop being run as privileged users and shall be run as regular users.
  • Try to build Hamachi even though it is a long shot because it would remove my need to use a Dynamic DNS service.
  • Introduce the Privoxy proxy server and integrate it with TOR.
  • Figure out rsync so that family businesses can backup to yet another site using multiple protocols.
  • Tinker with the init scripts so that they don’t launch network software before there is a networking connection, etc.

Hopefully I will get through some, if not all, of that lot by the end of the week.

Fiddling with FreeNAS

A few months ago I purchased a HP Microserver because it had become necessary to improve my storage arrangements at home.  Before then I had stored things, well actually everything, on a ReadyNAS Duo that had a been running on a pair of 500GB that mirrored each other for redundancy.  This was not an ideal situation and because I was running out of space I had considered removing the mirror.

Switch to something like the HP Microserver seemed ideal because:

  1. I could run whatever I wanted on it because it was effectively a PC in its own right.
  2. I would have 8TB of storage which was a vast improvement over the ReadyNAS.
  3. 4 drives would give me improved redundancy and there would be various configurations that I could choose to suit my needs.

Skipping forward to today I have had my Microserver for a good few months and have run it using FreeNAS but now I’m getting that nerd itch because it’s not running quite exactly how I want it.

Currently I have it so that it’s running FreeNAS and Serviio on top of that to serve my music up to my PS3, etc. but the current method of having to dig into the console to get it all working again every time FreeNAS releases an update is not sitting well with me.

With this in mind I’ve just decided to follow this guide over on the FreeNAS forums and set up a build environment which with any luck I will be able to use to slipstream Serviio into FreeNAS.

Cross your fingers!