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The Server that might be TrueNAS Scale

Kyle R. Conway
I do Data, Design, and Marketing (and sympathize with Bartholomew Cubbins). I use code to solve problems. I'm a multidisciplinary artist who holds a phd in fine arts. I like tea.
Originally published at kylerconway.com on ・3 min read

What happens when you just get frustrated and buy an old server on ebay? Well… I don’t know yet because at the moment I’m checking the RAM with memtester on a System Rescue CD running off of a bootable USB drive. What I do know is that this computer has 64G of ECC RAM, 2 Intel xeon processors with a combined 24 cores, and 8 3.5″ drive bays.

It seems to have completed successfully. If you’re wondering what steps it processes through it seems to start on “stuck address” and end on “16-bit Writes”.

After generally confirming the memory was working as intended I ran a CPU stress test for an hour or so a few times. Watching all 24 cores light up in htop was thrilling.

Everything seems to be humming along just fine…

My general plan here is to consolidate other computers that were providing FreeNAS (now TrueNAS), XCP-ng, and other functions into a single unit using the now alpha_―should I be scared?―_TrueNAS Scale. I’m not switching because TrueNAS is lacking in general as a NAS because it’s been great. It’s just that the VM solution, bhyve, is both not what I’m familiar with and seems generally less good for the virtualization I do. Additionally, TrueNAS is based on BSD, and while BSD is great, I’m far more experienced with Linux having used it for 10 years, and Scale is:

  • Built on Debian Linux
  • Maintains ZFS for file system
  • Integrates the more familiar KVM for virtual machines
  • Adds Docker for containers

Basically, it should allow me to consolidate:

  1. My virtual machines
    • Currently running on a mix of desktop computers with KVM and a hobbled together machine running XCP-ng.
  2. My NAS
    • Currently a dedicated old desktop computer with the sides off.
  3. My Docker Containers
  4. Maybe PFSense (dare I virtualize this?)

Inside a bigger computer.

I’m have some trepidation about using the alpha TrueNAS Scale on this system that I actually intend to use for real, but I’ve also been very very interested in using this particular iteration of the Free and Open Source project TrueNAS since I heard about it sometime last year (or was it 2019?―what actually is time?).

End of post update

Since I started writing this post I’ve:

  • generally validated the hardware is working
  • added an internal SSD to directly to the SATA ports
  • installed a fresh copy of TrueNAS Scale alpha
  • Setup a single-disk pool (pool?) to test things
  • installed a docker version of Nextcloud that works well
  • created a working VM of Debian 10 Linux and accessed via included VNC
  • happily played in the shell with my known panoply of Linux terminal commands (so much less context switching!)
  • and generally explored the new web-based GUI (I’m liking it).

I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to fully fully commit to moving all of my day-to-day data over to the new machine (need to add non-test disks for non-test pools), but I suspect in the coming weeks I’ll gain an amount of trust to do so. The release notes indicate a certain stability in many of the elements independently (though when you bring things together who knows), but it looks good.

I’ll likely update here as I encounter problems or move additional items to the server.

Discussion (2)

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Nate

Nice post! Out of curiosity, how much were you able to get the server for?

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Kyle R. Conway Author

Thanks, Nate. ~$400. Shipping was like $60. Here it is: ebay.com/itm/UXS-Server-FREENAS-2U...

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