Posts Tagged ‘zfs’

OpenIndiana Announced, the fork to Oracle’s OpenSolaris!

September 15th, 2010 No comments

OpenIndianaEarlier today, we had the announcement for OpenIndiana. Aimed to be the de-facto OpenSolaris Distribution that tries to be binary and package compatible with Solaris 11 & Solaris 11 Express. Its apart Illumos Community with 20 core developers providing (eventually) a stable branch with 100% free & open source distribution.

Not only that, you can also download a ready baked OpenIndiana distribution (based on ou_147) or if you’re like me and still using OpenSolaris DEV snv_134, you can upgrade via the IPS management tools. Having said that though, I’m not going to rush and upgrade my zeus box anytime soon as it will take time to settle in, but you can take the baked ISO’s for a spin in a VM 🙂 I have found a few references to OpenSolaris still there and there is currently no xVM Xen (dom0) support nor lx (Linux) branded zones. Not to worry, keep an eye out on the roadmap and release schedule for what they’re going to deliver.

You can get a copy of the OpenIndiana announcement presentation slides as well or follow @openIndiana on twitter. Otherwise, see the Getting Involved guide on the OpenIndiana Wiki and join in!

In a way, its good to know that the beloved OpenSolaris will still live – thanks to the community, but at the same time, how long that community will be turned on by developing and maintaining it will be interesting – though other forks of OpenSolaris are backing it (via Illumos) – like Nexenta and Schillix which has just released a version based on Ilumos. All in all, WATCH THIS PROJECT!

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OpenSolaris cheatsheet

December 15th, 2009 No comments

Most excellent cheatsheet for OpenSolaris.

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Part III: Zeus rebuilt and configured!

November 21st, 2009 1 comment

I’ve spent the last month working with the newly built zeus server which is now powered by OpenSolaris (2009.06).

Here’s my final hardware specifications:

  • CPU: AMD Athlon X2 5050e – 2.6Ghz (45W TDP, AMD-V)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P ( AMD 790X Chipset )
  • RAM: 2x Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5 (4Gb kit x 2 = 8Gb)
  • Graphics: ASUS 9400GT PCI-Express
  • Hard Disks:
    • rpool – 2x WD740ADFD – 74Gb 10K RPM, 16Mb Cache (mirror’d)
    • tank – 6x WD1002FBYS – 1TB, 7200RPM, 32Mb Cache (raidz)
    • base – 2x WD7500AAKS – 750Gb, 7200RPM, 16Mb (mirror’d)
  • Addon cards:
    • SATA – Silicon Image, Inc. SiI 3132 Serial ATA Raid II Controller
    • NICs – 2x Intel Corporation 82545GM Gigabit Ethernet Controller (e1000g)

I’ve finally managed to get the GA-MA790X-UD4P on the OpenSolaris HCL list – woo! Unfortunately the onboard NIC will not work in the 2009.06 release even though it is detected:

Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller

Maybe in a future release. Make sure you update the BIOS as OpenSolaris may have an issue with the USB controller being ‘mis-configured’ otherwise.

Just for kicks I went to Jaycar and bought myself a power usage meter to measure the watts used by the new boxen (see a review of the Mains Power Meter on DansData).

Old Zeus

  • Idle: 380W
  • Load: 413W

New Zeus

  • Idle: 232W
  • Load: 270W

Nice, with an Intel Atom based server it could go _a lot_ lower, but I’m happy with this.

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Next generation Linux file-systems

November 5th, 2009 No comments

If you’ve been reading this blog a couple of things are clear, I don’t like Apple much and I have a soft spot for file-systems. An article was posted on the IBM DeveloperWorks site that covers two file systems; NiLFS(2) and exofs that has some great information about these two beasts.

Linux® continues to innovate in the area of file systems. It supports the largest variety of file systems of any operating system. It also provides cutting-edge file system technology. Two new file systems that are making their way into Linux include the NiLFS(2) log-structured file system and the exofs object-based storage system. Discover the purpose behind these two new file systems and the advantages that they bring.

Read the full article on the Next-generation linux filesystems, there was an article on a few years back discussing the (then emerging) Btrfs and NiLFS and how things may pan out. I’m quite happy and content with ZFS but in either case it’ll be interesting to see how all three go.

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ZFS gets deduplication

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

ZFS now has deduplication support which is as easy as just setting a property on the file system.

$ zfs set dedup=on tank/src

Read Jeff Bonwick’s (the supremo source for ZFS) article as it covers everything you’d ever want to know about what deduplication is and the various strategies behind it. Can’t wait for it to be implemented in OpenSolaris 2010.02 its already been integrated into the ON source base.

Whilst on the subject of ZFS, there was a very good article posted on OSNews recently regarding the lack of fsck for ZFS, it gives you a very good overview of ZFS, what COW really implies, how it differs from journaling filesystems found in Linux and ofcourse regarding fsck.

And to compliment it all, a deeper look at the RAID-Z on disk format in ZFS. Light reading for Melbourne Cup Day!

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Part II: Rebuilding ZEUS – The Operating System, FileSystem & Virtualisation

October 18th, 2009 No comments

Now that I’ve decided what I want out of the server (and the hardware I’ve got), its time to workout what operating system to run the system on. Currently, ZEUS is running on Ubuntu Gutsy (7.10) which is running LVM with an XFS volume holding approximately 2.5Tb worth of data. There’s a cron job that defrags the XFS volume to keep things in order.

The Operating System

As the operating system is no longer maintained (my oversight into how long it would survive) I have to find an OS that supports the hardware platform without hacky hacky bits (and by this I mean avoiding buggy ACPI and issues with the NForce4 chipset and IRQ problems) and has a file system that will benefit long term.

There were a few considerations:

  • Ubuntu 8.04.x LTS
    I like Ubuntu, I’m comfortable with the user land and find the Debian package system (in particular the dependency resolving) most impressive. Hardware is well supported and 8.04.3 (at the time of writing) boots on the hardware I originally selected (Intel) and the new configuration I recently selected (AMD). I could most definitely use Ext4 but the problems with data-loss (which I’ve reproduced on several occasions on desktop machines) scare me.FileSystem: I’d have to adopt either XFS or Ext4 on an LVM to factor in future-proofing, maybe get some fakeRAID happening for redundancy.
    : comes with a Server edition that’s bare bones allowing it to be a minimalistic installation which is always nice!
  • Ubuntu 9.04
    Initially when I started to rebuild Zeus back in April I wanted to use Ubuntu 9.04, I was really excited about Ext4 and the promise of a brand-spanking new file-system and what it would bring to the table. Unfortunately after using Ext4 with 9.04 I’ve come to realise its probably not the wisest to trust your data with it just yet – unless you get yourself a UPS! Laptop seems to be chugging nicely though.Installation: Like LTS, comes with a Server edition that’s bare bones allowing it to be a minimalistic installation which is always nice! (copy/paste!) Unfortunately picking 9.04 when 9.10 is just around the corner is not going to be ideal, I’ll be stuck with where I am right now in a year or so.

So in case the sudden influx of OpenSolaris posts didnt give you the hint, I decided on OpenSolaris to power the new iZeus 2.0, actually no that sounds lame, zeusy will be the new ZEUS until ZEUS is retired in which case zeusy becomes zeus (confused?).

Why ZFS?

ZFS is one of those file-systems you look at and think, wow! Why didn’t anyone else think of that before?

  • Very simple administration – you only use two commands, zpool and zfs.
  • Highly scalable – 128-bit means we can hold 16 exabytes or 18 Million terabytes worth of data! More porn for you! XFS can no doubt handle the TBs we use for our home boxes now, but no-chance you can get the performance or benefits of ZFS in Ext3/Ext4 or XFS.
  • Data integrity to heal a filesystem (no fsck’ing around!) – 256bit checksuming to protect data, if ZFS detects a problem it will attempt to reconstruct the bad block and continue on its merry way (utilising available redundancy)
  • Compression – you can elect to compress a particular file-system or a hierarchy just by setting one command! I’m thinking things like logs here.
  • No hardware dependency – JBOD on a controller, let ZFS maintain the RAID volumes in software. Checkout Michael Pryc’s crazy adventure with ZFS using USB thumb drives and Constantin’s original voyage with USB drives! RAID-Z is essentially RAID-5 without the write-hole problems has plagued it if power is lost during a write, it can also survive a loss of a drive (with RAIDZ-2 you can loose two drives).
  • Happy snaps for free! Snapshot (a live) file-system as many times as you like, again one easy command. Its like that tendency to hit {CTRL+S} when your working in Windows from back in the days of Windows 9x, snapshot regularly!

So ZFS sounds much like marketing spiel right now, best thing since sliced bread, cooler than a cucumber, and you’d be right it is cool and the best thing since filesystems came to being. Over the coming days I’ll post some more on my musings with ZFS – keeping in mind that I’m still learning these things. It helps to have lots of hardware to play with, but even if you don’t, you can knock up a virtual version of OpenSolaris in VirtualBox, create some virtual disks and try it out.

There are a few caveats that I’ve come across though using ZFS, one is memory! ZFS will try and cache as much data as it can in RAM, so if you have 8Gb of RAM (as I have in this box) it will happily use as much of it as it can afford. Rightfully so, I was getting ~96MB/s transfering a 16Gb MPEG from one box to the other over our Gig link (thats from one end of the house to the other!) mind you this was just a test configuration using 2x 74Gb Western Digital Raptors (WD740ADFD) in a RAID-0 style hitting a single 150Gb Western Digital Raptor (WD1500ADFD). They could have gone much higher, but I was happy with that.

There are also (as of writing) no recovery tools for ZFS, but these are slated to arrive soon (Q4 2009) which is quite scary after you read this post about a guy loosing 10Tb worth of data, however a possible revert to an older uberblock may fix some problems.


Initially I wanted to concentrate quite a bit on Virtualisation, I tried Xen on OpenSolaris. It was quite easy to setup a Xen Dom0 in OpenSolaris but with the 2009.06 release you had to tweak the Xen setup a bit. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about using Xen after seeing the performance lag in Windows in my musings. Instead I’m opting for my crush, VirtualBox.

So why use VirtualBox when you can get a bare-metal hypervisor? Firstly, performance seems to be sluggish with Xen for me (I didn’t investigate this too much), secondly I want to be able to run the latest and greatest OS’s out without worrying about upgrading Xen (I’m a sucker for OS’s!). VirtualBox development has accelerated at a feverish pace, I started with VirtualBox 1.3 in 2007 and its come an insanely long way since then. When a new release comes along, its as easy as updating VirtualBox and getting all the benefits. Plus with SunOracle‘s backing of VirtualBox you know things are going to work well on OpenSolaris, the Extras repository of VirtualBox makes it as easy as doing a pkg update.

I’m still quite intrigued by the way KVM is heading and how it will pan out, but for the future zeus, it will be VirtualBox.

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Rebuilding Zeus – Part I.5: Change of heart, change of hardware.

October 14th, 2009 No comments

After a bit of digging around, my original spec’d hardware I’ve decided is too much for a boxen that will be on 24×7, especially with the rates for electricity going up next year – every little Watt counts. The existing 65W CPU isn’t ideal, instead I’m opting for a 45W CPU instead and this means – looking at the lineup, its going to be a walk down AMD way. Less watts, less heat and less noise, noice! See AMD’s product roadmap for 2010-2011.

The original specifications I mentioned were:

I’ve decided to change the CPU and Motherboard but keep the other bits and bobs – I could loose the graphics card and go onboard but I felt like leaving it there for now. The target budget is $250 maximum for both CPU+Mobo, so this means I’m sticking with DDR2 which implies AM2+ but it must also satisfy:

  • CPU has to be 45W and be atleast 1.6Ghz, dual core no more, has to support Virtualization.
  • Motherboard has to Support 8Gb (most boards doo!),  have atleast 2x  PCIe and a PCI slot, it would be nice if the network cards work (gigabit) but no fuss if it doesnt. No crazy shebangabang Wifi, remotes etc bling and if it has onboard Video great, otherwise its OK to use a crappy card.

I picked the AMD Athlon X2 5050e CPU because it was cheap (~$80), supports a 45W, has virtualisation and is an AM2. Next was the motherboard, looking at the ASUS, Gigabyte & XFX models as my target.

Chipset wise only the following fit the criteria for a possible match because others just don’t have the number of SATA ports available onboard. Primarily AMD boards are supplied by NVIDIA or AMD themselves.

Initially I looked at the ASUS  boards (they’ve been nothing but rock solid for me in the past) but after a lot of research scouring through the manufacturer sites I ended up picking out the Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P which is based on the AMD 790X Chipset. The board came with 8x SATA Ports, 3x PCIe and 2x PCI and a  Gigabit NIC all for a $137 from PCCaseGear. Not only was the power consumption lowered but the noise and heat generated was substantially lower too!

Coming in close was the ASUS M4N78 PRO or the ASUS M4A78 PRO, each of those unfortunately didn’t have as many SATA ports (2-less) nor the PCIe ports (1-less).

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Whats coming in FreeBSD 8.0?

September 13th, 2009 No comments

I’ve been looking at FreeBSD to run at home, whilst up until now its been mostly virtualised installs (and OpenBSD powers our gateway – 385 days of uptime!). Came across an article describing the changes coming in FreeBSD 8.0 in a nice summary format (similarly, theres one for FreeBSD 7.0 too!)

Well worth the read if your interested in the world of FreeBSD.

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Categories: Beta, BSD, Developer, File Systems Tags: , , ,

Linux Btrfs: A short history of btrfs

August 2nd, 2009 No comments

Valerie Aurora (such a cool name!) takes a look into the history of Btrfs, well written and easy to follow.

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OpenSolaris 2008.11 out the door!!!

December 3rd, 2008 No comments

OpenSolaris 2008.11 has just been released, it encompasses some super cool new features and I’ve been waiting patiently to try this OS – need something new to learn!

The OpenSolaris 2008.11 operating system is a point of integration for the installation, desktop, and package management system projects on Today, the OpenSolaris 2008.11 live CD is available with the following feature updates:

ZFS Time Slider and Songbird;suspend/resume and CPU power management; Distribution Constructor and Prototype Automated Installer; WebStack with 64-bit MySQL, CherryPy, and DTrace for Ruby; GNOME 2.24, 3.0, and Firefox 3; Many F/OSS applications added, including top, sudo and Emacs; 700 additional man pages and Package Manager online help

Just a bit of background, OpenSolaris is based on Solaris, which was originally released by Sun Micro-Systems in 1991. Sun decided to release Open-Solaris to build a developer community around their Solaris product. Eventually it seems they will be basing technology for Solaris from OpenSolaris. So you know OpenSolaris will rock your world if its backed by Sun.

Download page for OpenSolaris 2008.11 or Direct Download of ISO and the 2008.11 Release notes.

Checkout the newly revamped OpenSolaris website, in particular the Learn area. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing the ZFS, Virtualisation Enhancements and DTrace loving.

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