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xConVirus

Need Home Server Advice

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hey guys,

 

I'm working on setting up a personal ESXI server that I can learn and play around with lots of different stuff. I have an i7-2600, 16GB 1333MHz DDR3, Intel DH67CL motherboard, a Zotac GTX 750 Ti, two 120GB Sandisk SSDs, and some random HDDs of varying sizes. The issue I have run into is that ESXI doesn't support "fakeraid" solutions like most onboard controllers provides, and I had intended to use the 2 Sandisk SSDs as a boot drive in RAID1. I need help deciding where to go from here. I've looked into getting an actual hardware RAID controller but the couple cheap ones I've found are still "fakeraid". I'm wondering if I should just give up on ESXI, although part of the reason I wanted to use it is because I know how huge it is in enterprise data centers and I wanted to get some experience with it. 

 

I've googled for an hour or two now and some people say I should install ESXI on USB, however that is both 1) slow to boot and 2) if the USB fails then all the settings are gone and I'm not quite sure how I'd back them up/restore them easily without manual configuration. I've also seen people suggesting alternatives like Proxmox, or XenServer. One of the things I'll be experimenting with on this server is FreeNAS, I'm new to it but I'm wondering if it has the capabilities to act as a virtualization server? Then I'd just have FreeNAS as my base instead of ESXI.

 

Very new to this and at the moment quite discouraged so advice and suggestions on where to go from here is appreciated. Thanks guys. 

 

EDIT: Googling some more looks like Proxmox doesn't support "fakeraid" either. So the more general question is how can I get the redundancy (RAID 1ish) I want for whichever solution? If I install it on a USB and the USB fails, is it that hard/time consuming to recover from?

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check out perc 6i card on ebay cheap... also I believe a raid setup should have all drives the same make/model/size for real setup not virtual

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On 12/21/2016 at 4:23 AM, xConVirus said:

Hey guys,

 

I'm working on setting up a personal ESXI server that I can learn and play around with lots of different stuff. I have an i7-2600, 16GB 1333MHz DDR3, Intel DH67CL motherboard, a Zotac GTX 750 Ti, two 120GB Sandisk SSDs, and some random HDDs of varying sizes. The issue I have run into is that ESXI doesn't support "fakeraid" solutions like most onboard controllers provides, and I had intended to use the 2 Sandisk SSDs as a boot drive in RAID1. I need help deciding where to go from here. I've looked into getting an actual hardware RAID controller but the couple cheap ones I've found are still "fakeraid". I'm wondering if I should just give up on ESXI, although part of the reason I wanted to use it is because I know how huge it is in enterprise data centers and I wanted to get some experience with it. 

 

I've googled for an hour or two now and some people say I should install ESXI on USB, however that is both 1) slow to boot and 2) if the USB fails then all the settings are gone and I'm not quite sure how I'd back them up/restore them easily without manual configuration. I've also seen people suggesting alternatives like Proxmox, or XenServer. One of the things I'll be experimenting with on this server is FreeNAS, I'm new to it but I'm wondering if it has the capabilities to act as a virtualization server? Then I'd just have FreeNAS as my base instead of ESXI.

 

Very new to this and at the moment quite discouraged so advice and suggestions on where to go from here is appreciated. Thanks guys. 

 

EDIT: Googling some more looks like Proxmox doesn't support "fakeraid" either. So the more general question is how can I get the redundancy (RAID 1ish) I want for whichever solution? If I install it on a USB and the USB fails, is it that hard/time consuming to recover from?

I think you first need to get a better grasp at what ESXI does. ESXI is a bare-metal hypervisor. Essentially, you're loading ESXI via a USB to boot from that USB--load speeds once the software is loaded and running is inconsequential to how fast your VMs will work. What this means is the USB will load ESXI with all your settings, however, that's all it'll do. The actual VMs and how fast they operate will depend on your hardware and how you allocate it.

Another thing to understand is that ESXI is picky with what hardware you can use. Every PCI device or USB device you connect to your machine is subject to work based on compatibility. What this means is just because you have a USB 3.0 USB PCI-E device that worked in Windows 7, doesn't mean it'll work on ESXI (check their huge compatibility lists/Google it). 

Expect "fakeraid" to fail on ESXI. Those SSDs will effectively become your datastores in ESXI. Essentially, they will hold the virtual machine files in them for every VM you make. To get them to operate as 1 (via RAID) you will need to ensure they are under a hardware RAID 1, not software. You need to also ensure ESXI will recognize whatever hardware raid controller you plan to use so it can even see them as 1 drive. Redundancy is important, and ESXI can make snapshots of your VMs once you have them loaded, so rather than waste 1 entire SSD, make snapshots and back them up to local storage.

 

FreeNAS is meant purely to run as a storage solution, however, it permits you to run certain applications (Plex/Crashplan/etc), but it does not operate like a Windows environment where you can install and run what you want. FreeNAS is also NOT a hypervisor, it's purely meant for file storage.

Get better versed on ESXI and FreeNAS before you proceed. Also, note that components like the graphics card you have on it will effectively be lost to ESXI once you run it--meaning you cannot assign/allocate it to any VM, meaning once you turn on the monitor, all you'll see is the basic vSphere page telling you to go to whatever IP you assigned as the managed IP. 

It took me a few months but I got my hands on a server and I run ESXI 6.0 on it. There I run a FreeNAS VM that has 16TBs of HDD space in RAID Z working as my file server, I have an application Server 2012 R2 VM running some software I use for other machines on my network as well as backup utilities, I have a Linux SSH file server online host, I have a Plex VM running on another Linux install...etc, etc.

There are tons of things you can do on ESXI--but you need to do your research. It's not easy, it's kinda frustrating when things don't work, but when you get a better grasp at how it works, the uses are pretty limitless.


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Personally I'd get/build a second machine, and teach yourself how to work with iSCSI and NAS's.  This appears to be a popular option in "the real world" with VMware. 

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17 hours ago, Mark77 said:

Personally I'd get/build a second machine, and teach yourself how to work with iSCSI and NAS's.  This appears to be a popular option in "the real world" with VMware. 

To specify that iSCSI, FCoE and FC (SAN)

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