Monday, June 2, 2014

Home Data Center 2.0 - dogfooding again!

Over six years ago, I put together my first home data center (HDC), which I assembled around a free CPU that was given to me.
A lot has happened in those six years. I've moved house, been through three different employers (and yes, I count Oracle as a different employer, for reasons you can see here), and most relevant to this blog post - technology has improved.
My old home server was an energy pig, loud, and hitting certain limits. The Opteron Model 185 has a TDP of 110 watts, and worse, the original power supply in the original HDC broke, and I replaced it with a LOUD one from a Sun w2100z workstation. I also replaced other parts over the years as things evolved. What I ended up with at the start of 2014 was:
  • AMD Opteron Model 185 - No changes here.
  • Tyan S2866 - Same here, too.
  • 4GB of ECC RAM - Up from 2GB of ECC, to the motherboard's maximum. I tried at first with two additional GB of non-ECC, but one nightly build of illumos-gate where I saw a single-bit error in one built binary was enough to convince me about ECC's fundamental goodness.
  • Two Intel S3500 80GB SATA SSDs - I use these as mirrored root, and mirrored slog, leaving alone ~20GB slices (16 + 4) each. I'm under the assumption that the Intel disk controller will do proper wear-leveling, and what-not. (Any corrections are most appreciated!) These replace two different, lesser-brand 64GB SSDs that crapped out on me.
  • Two Seagate ST2000DL003 2TB SATA drives. - I bought these on clearance a month before the big Thailand flood that disrupted the disk-drive market. At $30/TB, I still haven't found as good of a deal, and the batch on sale were of sufficient quality to not fail me or my mirrored data (so says ZFS, anyway).
  • Lian Li case - I still like the overall mechanical design of this brother-in-law recommended case. I already mentioned the power supply, so I'll skip that here.
  • A cheap nVidia 8400 card - It runs twm on a 1920x1200 display, good enough!
  • OpenIndiana - After moving OpenSolaris from SVR4 to IPS, I used OpenSolaris until Oracle happened. OI was a natural stepping stone off of OpenSolaris.
I gave a talk on how I use my HDC. I'll update that later in this post, but suffice to say, between the energy consumption and the desire for me and my family to enable more services, I figured it was time to upgrade the hardware. With my new job at OmniTI, I also wanted to start dogfooding something I was working with. I couldn't use NexentaStor with my HDC, because of the non-storage functions of Illumos I was using. OmniOS, on the other hand, was going to be a near-ideal candidate to replace OpenIndiana, especially given its server focus.
As before, I started with a CPU for the system. The Socket 1150 Xeon E3 chips, which we had on one server at Nexenta (to help with the Illumos bring up of Intel's I210 and I217 ethernet chip, alongside Joyent and Pluribus), seemed an ideal candidate. Some models had low power draws, and they had all of the features needed to exploit more advanced Illumos features like KVM, if I ever needed it. I also considered the Socket 2011 Xeon E5 chips, but decided that I really didn't need more than 32GB of RAM for the forseeable future. So with that in mind, I asked OmniTI's Supermicro sales rep to put together a box for me. Here's what I got:
  • Intel Xeon E3 1265L v3 - This CPU has a TDP of 45 watts, that's 40% of the TDP of the old CPU. It clocks slightly slower, but otherwise is quite the upgrade with 4 cores, hyperthreading (looking like 8 CPUs to Illumos), and all of the modern bells and whistles like VT-x with EPT and AES-NI. It also is being used in at least one shipping illumos-driven product, which is nice to know.
  • Supermicro X10SLM-LN4F motherboard - This motherboard has four Intel I210 Gigabit ethernet ports on it. I only need two for now, thanks to Crossbow, but I have plans that my paranoia about separate physical LANs may require one or both of those last two. I'm using all four of its 6Gbit SATA ports, and it has two more 3Gbit ones for later. (I'll probably move the SSDs to the 3Gbit ones, because of latency vs. throughput, if I go to a 4-spinning-rust storage setup.) I've disabled USB3 for now, but if/when illumos supports it, I'll be able to test it here.
  • 32 GB of ECC RAM - Maxxed out now. So far, this hasn't been a concern.
  • Same drives as the old one - I moved them right over from the old setup. Installed OmniOS (see below), but basically did "zpool split", "zpool export" from the old server, and "zpool import" on the new one. ZFS again for the win!
  • Supermicro SC732D4 - The case, while not QUITE as cabling-friendly as the old Lian Li, has plastic disk trays that are an improvement over just screwing them in place on the Lian Li. The case comes standard with a four-disk 3.5" cage, and I added a four-disk 2.5" cage to mine. The 500W power supply seems to be an energy improvement, and is DEFINITELY quieter.
  • OmniOS r151010 - For my home server use, I'm going to be using the stable OmniOS release, which as of very recently became r151010. Every six months, therefore, I'll be getting a new OmniOS to use on this server. I haven't tried installing X or twm just yet, but that, and possibly printer support for my USB color printer, are the only things lacking over my old OI install.
I've had this hardware running for about two weeks now. It does everything the old server did, and a few new things.
  • File Service - NFS, and as of very recently, CIFS as well. The latter is entirely to enable scan-to-network-disk scanning. This happens in the global zone, on the "internal network" NIC.
  • Router - This is a dedicated zone which serves as the default router and NAT box. It also redirects external web and Minecraft requests (see below) to their respective zones. It also serves as an IPsec-protected remote access point. Ex-Sun people will know exactly what I'm talking about. It uses an internal vNIC, and a dedicated external NIC.
  • Webserver - As advertised. Right now it just serves static content on port 80 (, but I may expand this, if I don't put HTTPS service in another zone later. This sits on an internal vNIC, and its inbound traffic is directed by the NAT/Router.
  • Minecraft - My children discovered Minecraft in the past year or so. Turns out, Illumos does a good job of serving Minecraft. With this new server, and running the processes as 32-bit ones (implicit 4Gig limit), I can host two Minecraft servers easily now. This sits on an internal vNIC as well.
  • Work - For now, this is just a place for me to store files for my job and build things. Soon, I plan on using another IPsec tunnel in the Router zone, an etherstub, and making this a part of my office, sitting in my house. Once that happens, I'll be using a dedicated NIC (for separation) to plug my work-issued laptop into.
  • Remote printing - I have a USB color printer that the global zone can share (via lpd). To be honest, I don't have this working on OmniOS just yet, but I'll get that back.
  • DHCP and DNS - Some people assume these are part of a router, but that's not necessarily the case. In this new instantiation, they'll live in the same zone as the webserver (which has a default route installed but is NOT the router). For this new OmniOS install, I'm switching to the ISC DHCP daemon. I hope to upstream it to omnios-build after some operational experience.
Not quite two weeks now, and so far, so good. My kids haven't noticed any lags in Minecraft, and I've built illumos-gate from scratch, both DEBUG and non-DEBUG, in less than 90 minutes. We'll see how DHCP holds up when Homeschool Book Club shows up with Moms carrying smartphones, tablets, and laptops, plus even a kid or two bringing a Minecraft-playing laptop as well for after the discussion.


  1. regarding your minecraft setup: do you have a smf file to share to start/stop the minecraft server in Omnios you could share? And do you use screen like most linux setups out there?

  2. Pardon my latency here, natxete. I start/stop them (actually, have my kids start/stop them) by hand, and used to use screen for the Bukkit one (until Bukkit disappeared).

  3. I know this is an old post, but it's still a good reference, as I'm building a similar system for our home, to replace my aging OpenIndiana machine.

    I saw that your old system had a basic nVidia graphics card like I have used, but my experience with OmniOS at work shows that X Windows is not part of the distribution (except for X11 client support).

    So, I expect that you may have given up the illumos-based desktop like I'm about to do. Did you ever add an X server & window manager to your HDC, or if not, what do you sit in front of these days when you need a windowing display for development, work, browsing, etc?

    1. Again, pardon the latency. I don't run X on my HDC anymore. When I was running OSol and OI, I used to have X up solely to keep each zone's console readily available for viewing. I could probably use screen or something like that, but remotely checking out the logs works just as well.

      I have a work-issued MacBook Pro (which I use with NFS and the now-fully-operational "Work" zone for some things) for OmniOS work.