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I need to build out a new NAS server and am looking at FreeNAS.

The server will be a 12-drive SuperMicro server with 12x1TB drives, RAID5, 11 drives hot, one Standby (so 10TB of usable space). There is no upgrade path from the 0.7 FreeNAS to the 8.0 series, so I'd prefer to start with 8.0, which currently stands at the RC5 release. This server will be exporting iSCSI volumes to Linux and Windows, as well as some NFS shares

My Questions

  • Is FreeNAS 8.0 R5 stable enough that at least data integrity is assured? If I deploy with the 0.7 series, I will be stuck with it so I'd prefer to get on 8.0 from the beginning
  • Does FreeNAS support thin-provisioning iSCSI images? (i.e. exporting a 500GB iSCSI image, but only reducing the space on the NAS as the image is filled instead of immediately). This is important because the disk images are rarely over 25% used and I want to be able to "oversell" the space.
  • There will be about 30 servers using iSCSI images exported by this box. Is 4G of RAM sufficient, or for that number of clients is more recommended?
  • Is there any reason to look at other NAS solutions (OpenFiler, ReadyNAS) for what I'm trying to achieve?
  • Thanks in advance

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    2 Answers

    • Data Integrity is pretty darn stable. FreeNAS is built on FreeBSD, so the underlying OS isn't RC status at all; the management features built on it are however (even those are mostly just incremental upgrades from previous versions).
    • If you use ZFS with compression I know you can greatly reduce the file sizes; I don't know offhand if istgt does dynamic files.
    • The number of servers is somewhat meaningless. The speed of the CPU and RAID HBA (if not using ZFS) are very important. If you're using ZFS: CPU and RAM = No such thing as too much (though diminishing returns applies).
    • You should always at least entertain alternatives, though I'm partial to FreeNAS (and anything FreeBSD based).
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    I was also thinking on giving a try to FeeNAS 8.0, but I'm not in a hurry so I'll wait to test it with real data.

    Any way, from what I could read in the the Release Notes of FreeNAS 8.0 RC5 (see the extract below) it seems at least ZFS, Samba and NFS are well tested versions:

    Usability of this Release Candidate:

    At this point the feature set of FreeNAS 8 is complete enough to perform file sharing tasks via NFS or Samba, using local users, AD, or LDAP, as well as allowing the system to operate as an iSCSI target. The base technology of FreeBSD, ZFS, Samba, and NFS is very stable and very well tested. While there isn't an upgrade path from other storage solutions, including previous FreeNAS 0.7 releases, the system is suitable for new deployments provided the feature set is a good match for the requirements.

    I'd recommend you to read carefully the release notes to get a better idea.

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