It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since my last update. I assure that this is not because I have ceased making errors or learning from them. With Volker moving to Debian, FreeNAS being frozen with FreeBSD 7.2, at least for now, Oracle's Acquisition of Sun and the resulting demise of Open Solaris, my inability in achieving stability with SABnzbd and Sick-Beard hacked into embedded FreeNAS, I decided in June to hang up FreeNAS.
As you can see in my blog, I have had a lot of interest in getting to the benefits of ZFS. I spent a lot of time investigate the possibility of going to Linux with BTRFS and had overal reached a decision to do that. But, because of my laissez faire nature, I really didn't want to write off and relead a couple of terabytes of data to make the transfer. So I decided to give FreeBSD 8.1, which was in RC at the time, a chance. While I like the allure of appliances like FreeNAS with their simple web interfaces and fences to keep you on the right path, as a long term fiddgle and IT designer, I always feel hemmed in with this, hence my desire to add SABnzbd and Sick-Beard.
While installing FreeBSD 8.1, I came close, very close to abandoning it. It had been years since I worked with it at the system administration level. The differences in paradigms from Linux and the at times lacking documentation were driving me crazy. In making some poor decisions, I got into to multi-day ports compilations on my relatively weak hardware. But in the wee hours of the mornings across a weekend, I ended up with a configuration that is stable and performant. It meets my fileserving needs as well as lets me run a handful of other services on it. My ZFS volumes cleanly imported and have been running well. I have had two kernel panics since having it in, err hm production, both associated with heavy writes while moving some ISO images to the server. I have been tuning vm.kmem.size and vfs.zfs.arc_max values to attempt to get this settled down and think I may be there now.
I'll close this post out with the folowing observaton/recommendation - If you are or have a mind to administer FreeBSD directly and are being pinched by the current state of FreeNAS, give FreeBSD 8.1 a try. It isn't nirvana, but it isn't keeping me awake at night either.
I'll post more later with more configuration information.
Like most, I learn a lot more by doing things wrong before doing them right. Maybe, I can save someone some of my learning pain, I mean curve!