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FreeNAS versus unRAID as the operating-system for a DIY NAS? - Printable Version

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- poofyhairguy - 2010-10-19 06:18

froggit Wrote:(how do you know which ones?)

Great question! I personally copy my entire movies and TV shows list at least once a month and email it to a backup email for that purpose. That way if I experience data loss (none so far, but have on older server) I can compare the list and get back what I lost. One day I hope to automate this, but its easy using user shares in Finder. This isn't an Unraid point though, as I would do this no matter what the NAS was because one day a meteor might take out that part of your house and its nice to not rethink everything.


One point that IS about Unraid, is the fact that it forced me against my will to improve my computer habits.

I personally had a real problem buying Unraid at first. Not because it "should be free because its Linux" or "its too much" or anything like that.

I had a problem because its based on Slackware.

I am an intermediate Linux user (since 2003 on my desktop) and I really have always turned away from Slackware. I respect it for what it is (historically) and the power it has, but I have disliked it from the beginning.

To get programs to work that I often use (MythTV Backend, Air Video Server, XBMC, Mediatomb, etc.) in Slackware, ones that I can get working in Ubuntu in like 5 minutes, I would have to learn things about Linux that I purposefully avoiding learning back in 2004 by switching to Debian/Ubuntu. I know that Slackware is server oriented, not desktop oriented, but it probably has the worst package management system this side of Linux From Scratch. I mean you can sometimes find the packages you need, but ever since Debian crossed the 20000 package mark compiling other people's programs to use them is a dead concept to me (except for ones I purposefully use SVN versions of like XBMC and Xorg).

Which is fine. It is what it is for good reason. And that is why I have avoided Slackware for years with good reason. Even though I respect Pat for all he has done for the overall Linux community over the years, the honest truth is no independents like him can keep up with the Shuttleworths, Debians, Red Hats and Novells of the world.

If Unraid was on Ubuntu I would have bought two licences day one I heard about it. And that is exactly where I would have gone wrong.

Because what ended up happening is that I avoided Unraid for two years, "trusting" my data to a Ubuntu software RAID server that did all my programs like I thought I wanted. A server that I tweaked to the moon. Then one day I screwed up adding some new script to do some new thing, and I experienced data loss. Not huge, I recovered (like 8 TB out of 10) but I knew I needed to move on.

So I tried Unraid on the server. And something amazing happened.

A few benchmarks showed me a SMB read speed faster than I have ever tweaked Ubuntu or OSX to do. In a single moment I realized that I was an idiot, and that having one box to do data and only data completely spruced up by a guy who makes a living working of what is basically a custom distro designed to serve data is way better than anything I could hack together.

In fact, by being based on Slackware, Unraid pretty much ENSURES that I won't play the role of Linux Hacker and mess up my Unraid box because I won't mess with it. Its cheaper for me (after subtracting cost of labor) to just buy another box to run Ubuntu on the same network as my Unraid box to do all the things that I want my server to do besides serve. I pay for wind power so the extra computer only hits my pocketbook, not the environment.

The reason why this matters so much to me now is because I got married this summer. In the two years I have lived with my wife she has not liked my old server because often whenever she wanted to do something simple (like watch a show on my XBMC frontend in our livingroom) I had the server off the network to add some cool new program that streamed something new to my iPhone.

In my new setup I can tinker all I want to on the Ubuntu box, and she can still watch Desperate Housewives when she wants to with a guarantee that I won't break it. Unraid has preemptively saved me tons of marital strife.

Since this realization I have bought two Unraid licensees and I have built both into servers (one for TV one for Movies). I feel extremely grateful to be taught this lesson by Limetech and I really appreciate the epiphany.

With that said maybe one day in the future I will want a server to do more (not for media, but for other purposes) and for that reason I am keeping an eye on ZFS.


- ssboisen - 2010-10-19 17:30

Does ZFS supported any kind of encryption? Say I want to encrypt all my data so someone who steals my box can't view all the family-pictures etc. ?


- eztiger - 2010-10-19 20:14

It boils down to if you are happy with a striped data solution or jbod + parity.

If you decide you need / want striped for any reason then zfs is absolutely the best way to go. No question. At all.

However, in my opinion, for home use on a budget (as most people are) a striped array of whatever technology you want offers more chance of data loss than unraid's jbod + parity disk approach.

For the home user on a budget it comes down to would you prefer to spend money on having more useable storage, or spending it on adding redundancy.

If the answer is more useable storage unraid becomes 'safer' the more disks you have compared to any striped solution purely because the failure of x number of disks (beyond the threshold the protection can offer you) will not eliminate the data across all disks in the stripe.

Thus you could lose 2 disks out of 20 in unraid and still have 18 functioning disks of data. The same in any striped setup (presuming raid5 as a minimum) would lose the entire stripe.

You may add further protection by adding the number of disks for protection via raid6, raidz2, raidz3 etc etc but at that point you're spending more money on resilience than you are usable storage. And you still face the problem of if your number of disks failing is greater than the number you have for protection you lose all data on the rest of the disks in the stripe. Unless you go 1:1 but we're talking very pricey, mostly, as has been pointed out, in the per port cost of driving that amount of storage.

You can mitigate this by splitting the size of your pools etc etc but then one of the benefits of zfs we're told is simplicity. Once you have to worry about expanding with correct sized disks, creating pools of certain sizes you're firmly into the not so simple any more and having to worry about storage management and design decisions.

Bitrot? I'm not convinced. It happens no doubt but the IT industry survived and created, used and churned more data than I can comprehend before zfs came on the scene. It's a nice feature and if you choose to use zfs for other reasons then it's a welcome bonus but I don't see it (right now) as being a problem that needs a solution. Happy to be proved wrong but if it was such a massive issue everything that didn't do checksumming would have died overnight. I've never personally encountered it and whilst my storage experience is much broader than the average due to the nature of the industry I'm in I'm aware it's a long way from definitive.

I'm also not convinced zfs can *guarantee* to fix bit rot depending on how much of it happens 'at once'. Which means you can only really say with 100% certainty that it can detect it and inform you / attempt correction.

Enterprise IT systems, to maintain data availability and integrity use enterprise class hardware, small RAID (zfs or otherwise) volumes clumped together to achieve size and speed, multiple site availability, multi site replication and then multiple backups on top.

That is what is required to protect your precious data as close to 100% as the industry knows how. If you're not doing that with your home NAS data then unraid + an offsite backup for really important things (which you should be doing with any NAS solution) is enough. Anything beyond that, in the home, is in my opinion diminishing returns against much higher $ cost.

I have no issues with people running ZFS. It is definitely a better solution than unraid in many many ways. I don't happen to agree that a simple home media storage server also containing some family photos is necessarily that.

It's a very cool technology, lots of features, great performance and is definitely the future of software based striped storage.

But for people to turn a blind eye to unraids benefits over zfs and throw bitrot and enterprise class in response is a bit silly. ZFS running on a server in your cupboard at home is not enterprise class. No matter how much you want it to be.

I dislike many aspects of unraid. I really do. Borderline downright angry about some of them. But it still ticks the most importantly weighted columns in my own particular storage needs matrix (which I suspect is very similar to most home users media storage requirements) and so it's what I run. The second something else ticks more boxes, I'll move.

If ZFS does that for you, then that's great but you really need to double check the high horses some of you are on. Or pray you truly don't have a real data disaster as ZFS may not help you as much as you think on paper.

To put the cat amongst the pidgeons even more, my second choice for the home would be WHS. Then ZFS.

I'd love to run zfs at home just for bragging rights / to get that bit of performance, to have checksumming as a bonus for peace of mind and to get the most out of all the other features it can bring me even if really it won't add much to the hour or two a day I might spend actually using the data on my home server. But my pockets aren't deep enough, I'd rather spend the money on directly usable storage.

To caveat I work with moderate sized storage (doing all the things I've mentioned above) and this includes working with ZFS day in and day out. Makes my opinion no more or less valid, but hopefully shows I have a balanced perspective.


- darkscout - 2010-10-19 21:06

ZFS doesn't yet support encryption as is. However, you can create zvols, which are virtual devices on the ZFS. You can then do what ever you want with them, like make new file systems, even encrypted ones*. There was a set of instructions on how to create a UFS 'drive' from a zvol.

I know it seems like magic at times. But if you want to double check, you can create zpools from literally anything. Disks, Partitions, or Files. When I was doing my original ZFS testing I worked with files. If you want to do some 'bit rot'. Do a random 'dd if=/dev/random of=disk1.img bs=1 count=1". Just start putting random bad data on the disk. ZFS will catch it.


* No matter how drunk and curious you get, don't ever create a zpool from zvols and then create another pool from that zvol.


- fonzie - 2010-10-19 21:40

poofyhairguy Wrote:I personally copy my entire movies and TV shows list at least once a month and email it to a backup email for that purpose. That way if I experience data loss (none so far, but have on older server) I can compare the list and get back what I lost. One day I hope to automate this, but its easy using user shares in Finder.

Is there any way to set up unRAID to shutdown if there is a drive failure, that way you'll immediately know something is wrong with a drive (in case you haven't checked your email for a while)?


- TugboatBill - 2010-10-19 21:53

There's a script here:
http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=911.0
That will send regular status reports via email. It could be modified to only send an email when there is a problem, shut the system down, send a text message, or set off a fire alarm. Wink


- fonzie - 2010-10-19 22:12

Do you have a link in English?

...that stuff is way over my head. Telnet, SMTP, etc

I need an adult, I need an adult!

I probably should have known it would be rather complicated to get it done. Though I read disclaimers stating that you could make your flash drive unbootable if you tried changing some of the code.

Would it be possible to make an exact copy of your unRAID flash drive keep that safe, while you mess around with your test flash drive?


- teaguecl - 2010-10-19 23:17

fonzie Wrote:Do you have a link in English?
...that stuff is way over my head. Telnet, SMTP, etc
This actually is a very good point. Either solution being discussed requires a higher than average level of technical background to use. For example, the expertise needed to set up either solution is significantly higher than that needed to setup XBMC. For people who don't want to learn about all the mubo-jumbo, what would be our suggestion? Mine would be: buy a Drobo. It's Unraid (equivalent) without the hassle, at a higher price.


- fonzie - 2010-10-19 23:43

Yeah, I've heard the Drobo is pretty much plug and play. The two major downsides are that it is way more expensive (like you mentioned) and the Drobo share works through USB, so I believe that can be a bottleneck as well.


- jvdb - 2010-10-20 00:22

teaguecl Wrote:This actually is a very good point. Either solution being discussed requires a higher than average level of technical background to use. For example, the expertise needed to set up either solution is significantly higher than that needed to setup XBMC. For people who don't want to learn about all the mubo-jumbo, what would be our suggestion? Mine would be: buy a Drobo. It's Unraid (equivalent) without the hassle, at a higher price.

While I think that is generally good advice, the Drobo boxes are way overpriced IMO. Someone was talking about that Intel NAS box that will hold 4 drives, while I've never used one it looks attractive for the price (and should be way faster than the Marvel based NAS boxes like the D-link)

Edit:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859117007

No reviews, but this thing with 4 x 2tb drives would be cheaper than the drobo with no drives.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822240035


- TugboatBill - 2010-10-20 00:47

Unraid doesn't require a bunch of techno-ability to use. It is very similar to XBMCLive in the technical skills needed to start using it.

What can make it or XBMC complicated is when you want to go beyond the initial program - IE email me when a drive fails or modifying XBMC so I can have discrete on/off codes for my remote.

I've read of complaints about drobo support, though I've never used one so I can't attest to how true those claims may be. Netgear's ReadNAS is another prebuilt NAS product. I've used it, and it seem to be pretty good, though my support experiences with Netgear haven't been great.


- prostuff1 - 2010-10-20 06:44

There are a lot of function that can be added to unRAID simply by installing one "program" created by one of the forum members. It is called unMenu and once installed there are simple button clicks to get a number of things that can be installed.

The list of ones currently are:
Code:
/boot/packages/airvideo-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/apcupsd-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/apcupsd3-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/bwm-ng-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/compiler-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/cpio-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/cxxlibs-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/dmidecode-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/ds_store_cleanup-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/file-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/htop-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/iftop-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/inotify-tools-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/istat-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/jre-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/lighttpd-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/lsof-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/mail-ssmtp-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/mail_status-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/md5deep-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/midnight_commander-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/monthly-parity-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/mysql-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/ntfs-3g-2010.3.6-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/ntfs-src-3g-2010.3.6-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/openssh-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/openssl-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/p910nd-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/pbzip2-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/pciutils-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/perl-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/php-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/powerdown-overtemp-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/powerdown_ctlaltdel-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/proftp-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/reiserfsck-3.6.21-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/rsync-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/ruby-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/screen-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/smartctl-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/socat-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/svn-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/unraid-swapfile-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/unraid-web-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/unrar-unmenu-package.conf
/boot/packages/zip-unmenu-package.conf

Those are the click and install packages. There are a few others I am working on along with ones like Sab, sickbeard, coachpotato, subsonic, slimserver, etc. that can be installed via direction on the forum.


I choose unRAID for a number of reasons that I won't bother going into right now as they have already been mentioned.


- sdsnyr94 - 2010-10-20 15:27

Quick question for the UNRAID users. Anyone using NFS?

I have had an UNRAID box setup for the last year, using NFS Shares, and I constantly get "Stale NFS Handle" when accessing my "Movies" folder. Since that folder is larger than any single drive in the box, I am assuming it is having an issue when one of the drives spins down.

Anyone else seeing this issue?

Anyone see a reason to stay with NFS rather than the Samba shares?


- Flomaster - 2010-10-20 16:47

sdsnyr94 Wrote:Quick question for the UNRAID users. Anyone using NFS?

I have had an UNRAID box setup for the last year, using NFS Shares, and I constantly get "Stale NFS Handle" when accessing my "Movies" folder. Since that folder is larger than any single drive in the box, I am assuming it is having an issue when one of the drives spins down.

Anyone else seeing this issue?

Anyone see a reason to stay with NFS rather than the Samba shares?

I just installed the new 4.5.6 it comes with Sama right out of the box and it just plain works. my win 7 laptop sees the tower just fine and my HTPC uses //tower/Movies as source perfectly over my gigabit lan connection

-=Jason=-


- jbass350z - 2010-10-20 23:21

Are the write speeds of UNRaid still painfully slow? I have looked at it in the past and was not impressed by the speeds. If anything that was the one downfall I saw with UNRaid.. I have a few terrabytes of data to move onto a server, and what I saw at the time was around 20-30MB/s max..