My NAS Part 02 – It’s coming together

This series of posts will follow along as I build my very own NAS. In this second part I’ll talk about the user experience of some of the basic hardware with Linux/Solaris.

So, I’ve finally added the missing pieces, namely mainboard, memory and a CPU. I opted for an Asus P5N64 WS Professional mainboard (mainly because nForce is reasonably well supported on Solaris), some Corsair 1333MHz DDR3 RAM and an Intel Q8200 CPU. Assembling everything was no problem – and much to my rejoice the operating system didn’t make a fuss either! Currently the machine still runs the old Linux installation with Nexenta Core Platform on another disk.

Sure, I had to do some handywork before network was back: On Linux I had to force a load of forcedeth and reconfigure my interfaces through /etc/network/interfaces and added bonding. Still, not much to do, all drivers present without binkering.

Solaris didn’t play so nice in the beginning, for some reason I had to plug-in both ethernet cables in order to complete the boot. After that I simply unplumbed the interfaces, disabled nwam through svcadm, enabled physical through svcadm (allowing me to manually configure the interfaces) and finally bonded/aggregated the interfaces through dladm. I do have to say that I like the way Solaris allows configuration of network interfaces way better than the standard Linux method (mainly: fire up vim and edit everything). The nice thing: I really didn’t have to install/download/compile anything, Solaris came loaded with all necessary drivers.

Now, the good news is that all the important components (SAS controller, SATA controller, ethernet, PCI and PCI-e bridges) work fine on Linux and Solaris. Bad news: I didn’t get to test wireless LAN and sound yet, that’s not really the purpose of that machine 🙂 .

So, what’s the verdict on the P5N64 WS Pro in terms of non-Windows compatibility? It’s great, the board comes with 3 PCI-e 16x ports, 2 gigabit ethernet ports (Marvell), 2x eSATA and — much to my rejoice — a BIOS debugger. There is 1 PCI slot for your old stuff (in my case, maybe an old IDE controller or TV card) and 1 pinset for front-panel USB. A COM port slot is included in the package, which is a welcome addition. As usual Asus delivers a lot of stuff with the mainboard, unfortunately they didn’t provide a CD-ROM to restore the BIOS (AMI BIOS; which I had to do already…).

Next week I’ll plug-in the PCI-e SAS controller from Fujitsu-Siemens (which is based on LSI’s SAS1068) and get going with my JBODs 🙂 .

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