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Old July 4, 2013, 03:04 PM
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Default Mini Itx ESXI pfsense/freenas

I'm looking to build an 8 bay esxi host running freenas in a VM. I've got the motherboard/cpu/ram/hba picked out and I've found one idea for the case. The lian Li pc-q25 is mitx and can hold 8 3.5 inch HDD. Does anyone know of anything better?
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Old July 4, 2013, 04:00 PM
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Honestly as some one who has tried to do the EXACT same thing I would say stop and look at it differently. If you want FreeNAS or a similar FreeFSB HDD pooling solution it should be its own dedicated machine. Then do everything else on an ESXI box.

First you'll need at least 3 NICs, one of which should be IPMI. And AFAIK there are no capable ITX boards w/ IPMI.

Secondly you'd FreeNAS shouldn't be running in an ESXI VM. FreeNAS doesn't have direct access to the hard drives.
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Old July 4, 2013, 06:40 PM
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If you want a single machine though, I would go with Windows 8. It has storage pools which should take care of your storage needs and you can run Hyper-V as a "role" on-top for VM's.
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Old July 4, 2013, 07:19 PM
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It really needs to be one machine. I suppose I could get a router and run the box as freenas only but I'd rather not. I don't think I'll need ipmi either. The hba will be passed through as the board and cpu I'm using supports vt-d. I've seen freenas and other nas boxes run in vms with pass through around. Even in itx for factor. I'm fairly confident it will work.
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Old July 4, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD View Post
If you want a single machine though, I would go with Windows 8. It has storage pools which should take care of your storage needs and you can run Hyper-V as a "role" on-top for VM's.
What I have currently is similar to that. I'm running windows seven and drive bender. I want to move away from that setup and create a headless vm machine. I won't have room for two separate machines for nas/vms so I need to consolidate the two into one box.

Last edited by SeeThruHead; July 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM.
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Old July 5, 2013, 12:16 AM
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I run pfsense and Solaris in virtual machines with nic's and HBA's passed through on an ESXi 5.1u1 host. I have no issues. Mind you, mine isn't mITX and there's 8-9 other vm's running on the system

I can see how some may not find it ideal, there are definitely flaws to it, but there's cons to everytime. Sometimes it comes down to what works best for you. I know I have to keep a specific startup order for my VM's for everything to work since they're kind of meshed together. In your case pfsense would need to startup first, and then freenas if it's connecting via dhcp anyway. The host itself also has to have a static IP or it may drop off your network

supermicro has a few mITX boards, but I don't think any have IPMI which would be ideal in case the host locks up, especially since you want it headless. I believe Vmware's last patch was for an issue that causes lockups on intel systems, I believe it's only a partial fix, not sure off hand. I haven't encountered it myself though.

the other thing to keep in mind, is that even with vt-d, some boards may not allow passthrough. it's often a separate option in bios like it is for mine


//corrected post, I said freenas when I meant pfsense....

Last edited by stlouis1; July 5, 2013 at 12:56 PM.
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Old July 5, 2013, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlouis1 View Post
I run FreeNAS and Solaris in virtual machines with nic's and HBA's passed through on an ESXi 5.1u1 host. I have no issues. Mind you, mine isn't mITX and there's 8-9 other vm's running on the system
Were you using a ZFS RAIDZ on FreeNAS?
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Old July 5, 2013, 08:37 AM
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I can't remember the name of the board. But it's confirmed to have 2 nic that work with esxi as well as support vt-d for pass through. It's also itx and cheap, I'll post it when I get home. I'm going to try pfsense and freenas to start. If it doesn't work o can always run tomato usb on a separate router.
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:28 AM
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VMware ESXI Low Power Home Server Lab Build

Thats the build I'm using as reference. If for whatever reason it doesn't work as ESXI i'll run it as straight freenas with a RT-N16 as my router. I'd rather have a ESXI box to play with but i suppose it's not essential. I'll create a build log when I've got the parts and start on the project.
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:58 AM
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What are you planning on using for motherboard, CPU, and HBA?
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