File Server, part 1: OpenSolaris?

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[![OpenSolaris](http://cdn.briancline.org/i.e/opensolaris.png)](http://opensolaris.org)

Earlier this week after the announcement that Oracle (gag) is to acquire Sun, Jason and I had a long conversation about the ramifications. Solaris, OpenSolaris and the kick-ass file system ZFS briefly came up.

After reading about exactly what makes ZFS superior to other filesystems–and, surprisingly, superior to RAID itself–I knew that I needed to at least give it a try, if not perform an all-out Linux to OpenSolaris migration on two of my servers when the need arises. For years now I’ve been somewhat dissatisfied with little things like services management on Linux and wished there was something better, smarter, and more intuitive; the combination you get out of something like an i5/OS system, which is a badass under the hood. Turns out OpenSolaris is just the kind of server platform I was looking for.

Recently I’ve been pondering building a file server at home, for several reasons. Primarily, I’m running out of space. Everything I have now is fragmented across multiple drives in multiple machines, and most of them aren’t backed up. I spend an increasing amount of time tracking down files, which gets old very quickly.

I began playing with OpenSolaris 2008.11 under VMWare Fusion about four days ago, experimenting with ZFS, and falling on my face learning my way around Solaris. Lots of little things are different; things you take for granted. Under just about every Linux distribution, shutdown -h now will stop everything and turn off the machine; under Solaris, the cryptic poweroff does the job.

It’s taking a few days to get a full grasp on what requirements I have for the server itself and how exactly I want everything on the network set up to use it. This is primarily complicated because I’ll have Windows, OS X, Linux, and ESXi/XenServer hosts all accessing the same datastores. This means I’ll have a mixture of SMB, NFS, SFTP, and iSCSI going on, there are a lot of logistics to work out before diving in. This is one of those annoying times where planning and research might save me money, so I actually have to put forth some brain power. God, what a drag.

Stay Tuned

I’ll be chronicling this whole endeavor from start to finish for your eye-gouging reading pleasure. In the next post I’ll explore my storage requirements and how I plan to segment everything.

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