The HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen10 micro tower format is a small cube-shaped server with the particularity of offering 4 disk bays. It is completely silent with controlled power consumption and is offered at an affordable price. There is an Intel Celeron or Intel Xeon version, the first being available for less than 300$. It is not that expensive if we compare it to a Synology NAS, especially since we are entitled to much more interesting hardware:

  • Intel Celeron G1610T CPU (dual-core, 64 bit, virtualization)
  • 2GB of ECC RAM (expandable)
  • 2-gigabit network cards
  • ILO (KVM IP)
  • A PCI Express 16x low profile format slot.
  • Consumption in idle and without discs of ~ 30W
  • Quiet

So we have a real server on which we can put the OS of our choice and do virtualization.

After putting 8GB of ECC RAM and 4 1TB drives in the bays, I installed FreeNAS on a USB key. At startup, the fan blows hard (since we are dealing with a real server), but it gradually slows down to become almost inaudible. It’s simple: this server makes less noise than a fiber Sensation Bbox.

I already knew a little bit about FreeNAS, but a few years ago, I was not very familiar with ZFS and FreeBSD. Today I am much more so, and I discover how good this product is. What a joy to have the tools to manage a zpool, schedule periodic scrub, snapshots with retention time, dataset, and block devices.

Of course, FreeNAS is NAS oriented, so beyond ZFS, we have Windows, UNIX, and Apple sharing features as well as complete user management (LDAP or AD integration possible).

FreeBSD sysadmin will be happy to note the presence of jails. If you want your NAS to act as a DNS server with HPE ProLiant DL160 Gen10, create a jail that will run on FreeBSD 9.3 and in which you can configure named.

By Robert Smith

John Smith: John, a former software engineer, shares his insights on software development, programming languages, and coding best practices.