[rescue] OS for ZFS?

Steven M Jones smj+rescue at crash.com
Mon Mar 25 13:11:00 CDT 2013

On 03/25/2013 09:50, Scott Newell wrote:
> I'm wanting to build a (headless) machine to play with ZFS.  It won't 
> be doing much--light duty file server, some monitoring scripts, rsync 
> backups of our VPS, etc.  Looking through the junk pile here at work, 
> I see an Ultra 60 (2 CPU, 1 or 2 GB ram, couple of drives) or an old 
> Dell Precision workstation (2.8GHz P4, 512 MB, couple of old SATA 
> drives).  Does either feel like a viable candidate?

Sounds like you won't have any room on the U60, and you need RAM (at 
least) for the Dell. I suspect the latter is easier to fix than the 
former. But "to play with" - sure, I suppose either one would be fine.

> Any recommendations on an OS?  I've run OpenBSD and debian on them 
> before, so I don't anticipate driver problems.

I did run FreeBSD 8 with ZFS on a pair of 32-bit Xeon Gallatins with 
4-6GB RAM. Everything worked, but I got fed up with issues around 
PAE-enabled kernels - which nobody's likely to fix at this point. 
Eventually I picked up an HP DL140 G3 w/ Xeon 5160s for home, and one 
with X5355s for the colo. So I've been running FreeBSD 8.x with ZFS for 
a couple years at home with mirrored OS and a four drive RAIDZ, and at 
the colo with mirroring.

Only complaint I have is that most guides for root-on-ZFS still suggest 
having swap outside ZFS - and I've had two single-drive failures within 
a few months of each other where crashes resulted from a swap device 
going funny... I've had about half the four new hard drives I've bought 
in the year up to that point die within a couple months, and I don't 
seem to be unique in that regard.

So to address random drive failures I got a new colo box (Dell F1DH) 
that supports four drives and loaded FreeBSD 9.1 and built a RAIDZ2. 
However this configuration resulted in dropping interrupts (or something 
equally heinous) under heavy load. Dropped back to 9.0 and it appears to 
be working fine, just need to finish getting it configured and into the 
colo. Irritated not to be using 9.1, but this machine is mostly a 
platform for VMs under VirtualBox.

emt# uname -a
FreeBSD emt.crash.com 9.0-RELEASE FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE #0: Tue Jan 3 
07:46:30 UTC 2012 
root at farrell.cse.buffalo.edu:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/GENERIC  amd64
emt# swapinfo -h
Device                  1K-blocks     Used    Avail Capacity
/dev/zvol/zint/os/swap  16777216       0B      16G     0%


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