Dominic Cleal's Blog

Sat Jan 2 20:53:49 GMT 2010

permalink BBS2 for a home NAS, part 5: OpenSolaris to FreeBSD

While updating my blog earlier, I noticed a comment stuck in the moderation queue of another article that I hadn't seen until now. Apologies to Steven who has probably long since given up hope of a reply, but here it is anyway.

Sorry to hijack this comment, but I was wondering what the state of your quest for zfs on the BBS2 is? I'm considering buying one myself, for the exact same setup, OpenSolaris + zfs (the alternative is a more traditional NAS like the QNAP 439). I'm especially interested in the performance of the system (as a NAS), and whether you made any progress on the problem with the network card drivers. Have you tried/considered using Nexenta iso OpenSolaris?



I mentioned earlier last year that a kernel engineer was looking into my nasty Realtek RTL8111/8168B issues under OpenSolaris on the BBS2, but I didn't provide an update.

At the time, a kind engineer at Sun had seen this post and passed my contact details onto somebody who could help. For a number of weeks, I set up the BBS2 with a serial console via another box and a small GigE network that the Sun developer could use to try and trigger the bug between the two machines.

This was fairly successful and after a little time, he had managed to get the delay for a network restart down to about 20-30 seconds with modifications to the rge kernel module and was confident that it could be reduced to just seconds. I had on a couple of occassions seen complete network dropouts where the kernel didn't seem to notice that the chipset had died and so didn't reset it. Unfortunately, I couldn't reproduce these at all and so the developer couldn't provide any more help.

Since that fizzled out in April/May, I hope the fixes that Sun came up with have made their way into the OpenSolaris source tree, but I haven't checked the change logs recently. Thanks to both Sébastien and Winson for their efforts!

After leaving the BBS2 for a few months, I decided to install FreeBSD 7.2 after replacing my desktop in October. At first I ran into a few issues with lockups while trying to copy data on, but with some tweaks, including recompiling the kernel to increase the possible kernel address space the system has been pretty much perfectly stable since.

I'll be upgrading the box to FreeBSD 8.0 soon in the understanding that it has improved memory handling for ZFS and won't need the tweaking and recompiling that was necessary to run ZFS under 7.x. FreeBSD is definitely recommended if you're looking for ZFS, though it isn't for the fearless!


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