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In the interests of avoiding FCvsNFS religious wars, let me first say that I prefer NFS over a standard FC SAN, and also I don't really have the option of using using FC for this anyhow.

I'm interested in setting up a couple of ESXi servers. I've got a couple servers that each have 8gb of ram and 2 opteron CPUs. None of them have FC but they all have GB ethernet and I happen to have a couple of gb switches as well...

The server hardware is a single QLogic HBA and a single SATA<->FC 4tb array, and a motherboard with a pair of opteron 246 CPUs and 8gb of ram.

What is the best choice for an platform for using this hardware as an NFS server?

I figure my options are linux (openfiler and XFS), solaris (and ZFS) or freebsd (and ZFS).

I'm really interested in playing around with ZFS and I figure it has cool features. I'm pretty experienced with solaris 9, and older (and mostly on SPARC hardware) but have quite a bit less experience with solaris 10 and as far as I can tell, solaris 10 is pretty different. I also have lots of experience with freebsd, but am wary of ZFS on freebsd.

Any suggestions? This is a free-time sort of thing so I don't have huge amounts of time to go down lots of blind alleys only to discover that this or that isn't supported or randomly explodes after it's been busy for a week.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Solaris. It's NFS implementation is (ime, ymmv) miles ahead of Linux's. And ZFS is pretty handy. If all you need is NFS, a large amount of familiarity with Solaris 10 shouldn't be required

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My major worry is hardware compatibility. Linux "just worked" while when I tried to get solaris installed it had weird issues with the HBA. That and the fact that, as you said, I just need NFS makes me really not care enough to bother getting solaris working. I guess I'll give it another whack.. – chris Aug 31 '09 at 3:50
You could also try a different distro of Solaris (ie: OpenSolaris, Nexenta, or NexentaStor). NexentaStor has a pretty nice Web UI as well. – tegbains Nov 28 '09 at 22:33
Omnios ( is a rock solid platform you could test too. If you have the choice of buying something new, supermicro chassis are very well supported in illumos based solaris clones. And yes, NFS in solaris(clones) is way better than in any linux box, no idea about freebsd. – natxo asenjo Jan 21 '14 at 9:03

Another vote for Solaris. There should be enough tutorials out there now to get you up and running, and the Sun way of doing things isn't really that difficult.

I would recommend checking out Ben Rockwood's blog, as he has alot of really good material on OpenSolaris and ZFS.

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I don't know if I'd quite agree on the Sun way of doing things not being that difficult :-) – Cian Aug 28 '09 at 23:28
Come on, Sun isn't that bad! AIX & HP-UX is the worst. SCO was the grand champion for worst Unix to Admin! – duffbeer703 Aug 28 '09 at 23:43

NFS is for shared file access. Use Solaris and iSCSI. ESX images have no need to share data space. In fact you don't want them to for security reasons.

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Leaving aside the fact that most of the places I've seen with a SAN leave all luns available to all initiators (not that I'm saying that you should do that, it's just what I've seen), I like using NFS so I can use common name space for Server, Workstation, and ESXi. And, if I don't have an iSCSI hardware HBA I'm not keen on using it. There are a bunch of other reasons as well... – chris Aug 29 '09 at 14:08

ESX images have no need to share data space. In fact you don't want them to for security reasons.

Definitely wrong. If you want to use advanced features like vMotion, HA, etc shared access to the VM datastore is required.

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Use NexentaStor.

There is complete article for NexentaStor ZFS storage appliance with vSphere via NFS.

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If you use vmware ESXi. I highly recomend you use QLogic HBA for iSCSI. Configure iscsi target as blockio. And use only VMFS5.

I don’t recommend you nfs storage for vmware VMs .

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NFS is rock solid for VMware, but you need a good NFS implementation and design, obviously. Just like for iscsi or FC – natxo asenjo Jan 21 '14 at 9:03
Have you ever tested performance betwen NFS and iSCSI on same HW? – Lukáš Viktora Jan 22 '14 at 11:09
that is not the point, you recommend against using something without any argumentation. – natxo asenjo Jan 22 '14 at 14:56

protected by Iain Nov 27 '11 at 9:05

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