It’s been over 2 years since my previous guide on setting up iSCSI between FreeNAS and ESXi and in that time many things have changed. FreeNAS now has a new UI, making things simpler and more straight forward. I think we can all agree the prettier graphs are extremely important too. In this guide we’ll evaluate if FreeNAS is still the best solution for your storage needs and explain why iSCSI performs best, followed by complete setup instructions for a killer multi-path redundant link iSCSI config. FreeNAS is great but as with most things, there are pros and cons so lets get them out of the way as clearly as possible.
VMs are great, they allow you to consolidate many computers in to 1 physical system without forcing you to use a single OS. Sometimes it’s nice to give these VMs access to HW directly. In this guide I’ll show you how to pass a disk, at the block level through to a VM in Proxmox. This isn’t passing the disk through directly so it’s not a good idea to use ZFS or raid on the passed through disks. You’ll notice they still show as a VirtIO device inside the VM.
In an effort to find a more open alternative to ESXi I’ve been labbing with XCP-ng. Setting it up with an iSCSI connection to FreeNAS is rather simple, here I’ll explain how I’ve done it in hopes it can help others out there. I’ll be using fresh installs of XCP-ng and FreeNAS with a storage pool already created for this guide. Also I’ll use XCP-ng Center so a Windows system is required.
Have your shiny new Virtual Machine all set up in ESXi? Wondering how to make it Autostart in case of power failure or other host restart scenarios? This mini guide is for you! Making ESXi auto boot VMs is very simple, these tools are designed for us dumb humans after all.
Recently I’ve been using Hyper-V quite a lot due to the convenience of it being part of Windows 10 Pro and Server 2016. This got me wanting to try out Hyper-V Server 2016 for home lab use. After getting errors trying to connect Windows 10’s Hyper-V manager to the Server and doing some googling I realized it wasn’t going to be as simple to manage as ESXi/XenServer/Proxmox. In a domain it’s much easier to manager Hyper-V Server but, like most home users will find, when you’re not on a domain, things aren’t so simple.
With FreeNAS’s new interface, this is out of date. I have written an updated one here. Also, I have a guide for FreeNAS, XCP-ng and iSCSI here. In my home lab setup I’ve currently got 1 FreeNAS box and 1 VMware ESXi box. They’re connected using a multipath iSCSI link on cheap quad-gigabit cards I brought used. This setup works quite well for home lab use and provides a safe enough place to store my VMs. In this article I’ll guide you through the setup process I’ve used to get iSCSI working between FreeNAS and ESXi. I’ll presume you’ve got a fresh FreeNAS and ESXi install on both systems and quad or dual gigabit links between them.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s entry in to the virtualization market. Virtualization allows you to run multiple operating systems (Virtual Machines) on a single physical machine known as the host. With the resources available in a modern server you can often run dozens or more virtual machines on a single host allowing for considerable hardware consolidation. In this guide I’ll be installing the Hyper-V role on to Windows Server 2016 Standard 180 day trial so you can easily follow along. I would recommend doing this on a physical machine rather than inside an existing VM unless you know what you’re doing.
By default in ESXi the Round Robin IOPS limit is set to 1000 meaning that the path only changes after 1000 I/O operations have occurred. The result is basically the same performance as running a single path in my experience. Adjusting the limit from 1000 to 1 can result in much better performance.
Installing ESXi (or any os for that matter) off of a CD/DVD is becoming harder and harder yet they still insist on distributing ISO files. Once upon a time we had these drives internally but these days chances are neither your workstation or server are going to have an optical drive meaning you’ll have to dig up a USB optical drive from the bottom of a box buried under multiple other boxes… Or something like that. USB sticks have replaced optical media for installing operating systems so here I’ll show you how to create an install USB for VMware ESXi. You’ll need: A Windows computer (Or USB passthrough to a Windows VM) ESXi ISO file USB Flash Drive 4GB+ Rufus (Portable edition is convenient)
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