Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Home network update

My home network has been faithfully served by an installation of OpenSolaris on my HP ML110 G5. Unfortunately Oracle's actions towards the open source community have sadly killed what was an excellent project. While there is a small hope that the Illumos folks might get a fork organised, remaining on OpenSolaris was not practical.

To replace OpenSolaris, I would need an environment that provided all the features I was currently running. This meant I needed a CIFS and NFS server, iSCSI target server, internal DNS server, CUPS print server, private IMAP server (for my old pre-Gmail mail archive) and Windows 7 virtual machine courtesy of VirtualBox. Yeah, OpenSolaris was a *very* capable platform.

The solution I opted for was to turn the ML110 G5 into another VMware ESXi server, running a number of virtual machines the provide the above services. I would also take this opportunity to fix a couple of niggling problems with the way it was setup.

This change coincided with a number of new purchases for the home network:
  • Acer Revo Aspire
  • Netgear ReadyNAS Duo
  • OCZ Vertex 2 SSD
The Acer Revo was bought because I was fed up with using Windows 7 over RDP on the Mac. Little issues like the backslash key not working with a UK keyboard (sounds trivial, but you try using Windows seriously without entering backslash) meant I wanted something I could connect to directly via my KVM. The Revo won't win any awards for high performance, is a capable enough machine (with 2GB RAM) and can run a number of apps (including the vSphere client and Office 2010) without any problems.

I bought the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo after looking at some of the alternatives. I was originally tempted by the Iomega ix2-200d, but was put off by the fact the filesystem is proprietary and requires you to send the unit back if there is a problem. In contrast, the ReadyNAS Duo uses Ext3, but the real dealmaker was an offer to get a second 1TB disk *for free* (via mail-in coupon). My initial playing with this unit has been positive and it's nice and quiet, but I've not spent a huge amount of time with it yet.

The OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (60GB) was purchased because I wanted to experiment with the NexentaStor [Community Edition] virtual storage appliance. Built on top of the open-sourced Solaris codebase, Nexenta have built a storage solution around ZFS. Although the SSD is pretty small for a disk, it can be added as an "L2ARC" (Level 2 Adaptive Read Cache) to boost performance. This will require a block post of it's own to detail.

Finally, although I am not pleased with the way that Oracle have gutted Sun, the Solaris operating system remains excellent and I will be using it in my work for the foreseeable future. The preview release of Solaris 11 Express demanded a look.

I'll be blogging about some of these developments in future posts, coming soon...