My Ubuntu Based ZFS NAS
Currently I have two NAS systems at home. I have a primary NAS and a Backup NAS. Both run Ubuntu and both use ZFS.
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Two main reasons that I’m using ZFS
- bit rot protection
Using ext4 with soft RAID doesn’t protect against bitrot. I had considered using BTRFS but from what I understand it is less mature and more likely to have problems pop up at some point down the line.
There are several valid options I could have chosen from for a ZFS based fileserver. These include:
I feel like Solaris would be the right choice for this because this is the operating system that ZFS was originally built on. It should provide the best support for ZFS and is an excellent operating system to work with. Unfortunately, Oracle has closed the source and made Solaris non-free. Using something like OpenIndiana would actually make a lot of sense since it is open source and based on Open Solaris. I view it as the modern continuation of Solaris. I am uncertain of its future and don’t really want to base my NAS on it though.
FreeNAS is an really popular option and I would almost like to use it. It does a lot for you while still remaining a powerful and solid system. I prefer to set things up myself, from scratch. FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD. I could have also gone with FreeBSD or even NetBSD but I opted not to because I feel more comfortable administering Linux systems. BSD support for ZFS is great but Linux is really good these days too.
CentOS is a great choice and so is Debain. I feel like I’m going to get better support for ZFS on Ubuntu though. I want more up to date pacakges which I feel like I am more likely to have if I use Ubuntu. This is important when running ZFS on Linux. Fedora could also provide cutting edge packages but I feel like they go too far. I don’t feel like Fedara is as stable. It is a little bit too cutting edge for me. In the end I chose Ubuntu.
Why a NAS?
You might wonder why would I even need a NAS? Large drives are pretty cheap these days. You can install them internally or externally. You can even setup RAID on your desktop if you really want to.
- RAID ( technically don’t need a NAS for this )
- Bitrot protection ( also could be done on a desktop with ZFS )
- Access from multiple systems
- Separation from my desktop
- can rebuild / reformat and still reach the data from any other system
- anything that goes wrong on my desktops has less of a chance of effecting my NAS
- don’t need to share things or open as many services on my desktops
- Future growth
- For fun
Before Switching to ZFS
Originally, my volumes were formatted with ext4. I had built RAID 10 arrays using soft RAID. After doing this for a while I started getting worried about the the threat of bitrot. I transitioned my NAS to ZFS.
What About Offsite Backups
This is an important consideration. The plan is to encrypt and upload all data to cheap, slow, offsite cloud storage. I’m considering Amazon S3 Glacier and S3 Glacier Deep Archive.