FreeBSD, Server and OS

FreeBSD as my Network Storage Server (Part 1)


This little server adventure was completed in February of 2015, but I’m recounting it in November.  Bear that in mind while reading it.

QNAP NFS/Samba/AFS Server

As mentioned in a previous post, my main login server is joker which has been a VM on VMWare and then KVM for quite a few years.  I’ve kept my important files such as what’s in my home directory on an NFS server of some variety that entire time, as well.  I consider my generic servers such as joker to be cattle and not pets.  In other words, if they get “sick” some how, I just nuke ’em instead of trying to repair them.  Having config, home, etc fires on a different server makes that possible.$T2eC16F,!zoE9s5nc3nCBRZ0fO8Iog--60_35

A number of years ago, I managed to convince myself to get a QNAP 4-bay storage appliance.  I chose QNAP at the time because it had the better options for remote logins via ssh, and the company Drobo (reasonably popular for some reason) didn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground when it came to network storage.  Supposedly they’ve since updated that.

In any event, sticking with my “Batman rogues gallery” naming scheme: welcome bane to the fold.  At the time I was reasonably satisfied with the strange way QNAP did server administration via a web page, though I will always rather use a UNIX CLI.  QNAP really doesn’t want its end users doing that, though, so they make it challenging to get a good sshd installed and running.  But it had NFS, SMB and AFP already ready to go.  And with a couple clicks of a button, I got an internal MySQL server running on it as well.

Time for More Storage

When I set bane up initially, I did it with 4 3TB drives in a RAID10 configuration.  Meaning I had around 6TB of space, give or take.  Over the years, I began ripping my DVD and Blu-Ray collection and storing them in raw, uncompressed formats.  That ate up a lot of space, and at some point I decided to move the storage from 4 x 3TB in RAID10 to 4 x 3TB in RAID5.  That gave me around 9TB of space, at the cost of some storage performance because, let’s face it: RAID5 sucks.  Specially when you’re doing it all in software, as the QNAP does.

Dying Disks

Those 3TB drives I purchased were a mistake.  I used to trust Seagate drives with everything, but their SATA drives are just garbage.  Through and through.  The disks in the QNAP started dropping dead all at once; not literally, but all within a few months’ time (Christmas 2014 – early 2015).  I’d have just enough time to get a dead disk replaced before another one would tank.  No data was lost, but it was a bit on the stressful side.  It was time for new disks, and maybe a new server with more disk bays.  I wanted to return to RAID10, and I wanted to start using FreeBSD’s most excellent ZFS to manage it all.

Server Purchase

The kit included:

  • 1 Supermicro MBD-X10SAT-O motherboard
  • 1 Intel Core i7 4790 CPU
  • 16GB DDR3
  • 8 White Label 4TB 7200RPM drives
  • 1 Plextor 128GB PCI-E drive
  • 1 Supermicro SuperChassis CSE-743T-665B case

I chose the Supermicro board for a couple of reasons.  First, it has 2 Intel NICs built in, and I intended to do NIC bonding, or lagg is FreeBSD calls it.  Second, it has a whole slew of SATA ports on it.  Third, I like Supermicro boards and cases when it comes to servers.  I’ve used their stuff before with great success.  The case was chosen because it has externally facing, hot swappable drive trays, and a pass-through logic board inside of it to connect the drives directly to the motherboard.  That logic board literally is a pass-through; it does nothing to the disks except provide power and a straight data path to the motherboard.  It has 8 SATA plugs on the back of it that provide a 1-to-1 for each disk to the motherboard.


The build was easy:  put the CPU and cooler on the motherboard, then the RAM, then pop it all into the server chassis.  Wire up the storage mid-plane to the motherboard’s SATA ports, add the PCI-E drive, pop the disks into the trays and slide them in, power it up.  It booted up first time and right into the BIOS (note: Supermicro still uses BIOS vs those stupid UEFIs found on most modern day motherboards!)  I told it which to boot from first (the USB stick w/FreeBSD 10.1 on it) and off it went.

I had FreeBSD installed on the PCI-E drive in a matter of minutes.  I let it use the default ZFS root map, figuring I’d customize it later.  During the install, I skipped the network configuration because I intended to create a lagg after the fact.  The installer doesn’t have an option for that.  So once the machine was running, I sat down at the console and added these lines to /etc/rc.conf:

# Bring up 2xGE ints into an 802.3ad bundle
  ifconfig_lagg0="laggproto lacp laggport em0 laggport igb0"
  ifconfig_lagg0_ipv6="inet6 accept_rtadv"

This will only work with a managed switch that can do LACP-enabled 802.3ad bundles.  The Cisco switch I have in my basement, a model SG500-28 is one such switch.  Two GigE interfaces needed to be configured to do LACP with a Port-Channel, and then the Port-Channel interface added to a VLAN:

interface gigabitethernet1/1/6
   description "bane : em0 : po6"
   channel-group 6 mode auto
  interface gigabitethernet1/1/18
   description "bane : igb0 : po6"
   channel-group 6 mode auto
  interface Port-channel6
   description "bane : lagg0 : g1/1/6, g1/1/18"
   switchport mode access
   switchport access vlan 770

And with everything configured properly, the interface came up on bane:

bane# ifconfig lagg0
 lagg0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
  ether 0c:c4:7a:45:fd:80
  inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast
  inet6 fe80::ec4:7aff:fe45:fd80%lagg0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x5
  inet6 [redacted] prefixlen 64 autoconf
  media: Ethernet autoselect
  status: active
  laggproto lacp lagghash l2,l3,l4
  laggport: igb0 flags=1c<ACTIVE,COLLECTING,DISTRIBUTING>
  laggport: em0 flags=1c<ACTIVE,COLLECTING,DISTRIBUTING>
bane# ping
 PING ( 56 data bytes
 64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.322 ms
 64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.308 ms
 64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.310 ms
 64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.326 ms
 --- ping statistics ---
 4 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
 round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.308/0.317/0.326/0.008 ms

With the networking done, I added a local user, made sure pkg was installed and updated, and installed sudo:

pkg install sudo

Once installed, I added my local user to the sudoers list.

Lock Down SSH

Everyone does this, right?  RIGHT?!  I hope so.  I’ll happily call you an idiot if you don’t.  Thankfully, unlike most Linux installations, FreeBSD’s default sshd will not let root log in.  Good.  But, to make sure you can ssh into the box before you get a chance to fill out your authorized_keys file, FreeBSD’s sshd allows PAM authentication.  All well and good during the installation, but no bueno going forward.  So the next step was to edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file to disable PAM auth:

ChallengeResponseAuthentication no

I kept one window open to the new server while I attempted to ssh into it from another.  All good.  No more passwords allowed.

Storage and ZFS

The whole point behind this server is storage.  After running the gauntlet of returning and swapping a few of the new White Label drives due to bad sectors and other SATA errors on FreeBSD, I finally had 8 working drives: ada[0,1,4-9].  The reason for the jump is that the PCI-E SSD drive got assigned to ada2.   An external E-SATA RAID box, which I’ll touch upon later, was assigned ada3.

Time to turn the 8 drives into a RAID10 array of 16(ish) GB.  ZFS made that stupidly easy:

zpool create local mirror ada0 ada1 mirror ada4 ada5 mirror ada6 ada7 mirror ada8 ada9

Done.  Instantly: a large filesystem automatically mounted on /local:

bane# zpool status local
  pool: local
 state: ONLINE
  scan: resilvered 409G in 2h52m with 0 errors on Sat Mar  7 23:33:54 2015

	local       ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-0  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada0    ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada1    ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-1  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada4    ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada5    ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-2  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada6    ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada7    ONLINE       0     0     0
	  mirror-3  ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada8    ONLINE       0     0     0
	    ada9    ONLINE       0     0     0
errors: No known data errors

I created a new ZFS called local/export, which is where I intended to put the NFS, SMB, AFP, etc share:

zfs create local/export

A few more for various things, like moving /usr/src and /usr/ports over to the new RAID volume:

zfs create local/ports
zfs create local/src
zfs create local/export/music
zfs create local/export/movies

With the filesystems all created, I then NFS-mounted the old bane machine on to /old-opt, and did a simple:

cd /old-opt; tar cf - . | (cd /local/export ; tar xpvf -)

After multiple hours, everything was copied over. I then spent some time moving my ripped CDs into /local/export/music, and the aforementioned movies into /local/export/movies.  I also moved everything out of /usr/local over to /local, deleted /usr/local, and soft-linked it to /local.  With that:

bane# df
Filesystem             Size    Used   Avail Capacity  Mounted on
zroot/ROOT/default     100G    2.6G     97G     3%    /
devfs                  1.0K    1.0K      0B   100%    /dev
fdescfs                1.0K    1.0K      0B   100%    /dev/fd
procfs                 4.0K    4.0K      0B   100%    /proc
local                   10T    3.0G     10T     0%    /local
local/export            11T    629G     10T     6%    /local/export
local/export/movies     13T    3.1T     10T    23%    /local/export/movies
local/export/music      10T     14G     10T     0%    /local/export/music
local/ports             10T    1.5G     10T     0%    /local/ports
local/src               10T     48M     10T     0%    /local/src
zroot/tmp               97G    184K     97G     0%    /tmp
zroot/var/crash         97G     96K     97G     0%    /var/crash
zroot/var/log           97G    2.0M     97G     0%    /var/log
zroot/var/mail          97G    120K     97G     0%    /var/mail
zroot/var/tmp           97G     96K     97G     0%    /var/tmp

Backup Directory

I took the questionable 3TB drives out of the QNAP and added them to an external RAID5 ESATA enclosure.  Yes, I know: they were questionable.  But even with them being questionable, I figured I was slightly increasing my odds of data recovery by keeping a copy on them.  Anyway, as noted above, the ESATA enclosure showed up as ada3.  I created a zpool called backups out of it:

zpool create backups ada3

And then created 3 ZFS entries on it:

zfs create backups/bane
zfs create backups/windows
zfs create backups/timemachine

This post is getting a bit long in the tooth, so I’ll write up a Part 2 of sorts, explaining getting NFS, AFP, Samba, MySQL, and other things running on bane.

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