with a side of crazy
The events of the past two weeks have made me more seriously consider what life is all about and what it means. The bottom line is life is precious and life is short. You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone. Secrets eat you from the inside and isolation hurts.
It turns out I've been wasting my life and I need to turn this around. Trying to stick to higher principles and beliefs have isolated me and lead me down a river of lies and deceit. (No I'm not a member of a secret religious cult.)
On personal projects I've been trying to do things the right way for the right reasons. I was brought up to always do your best and always be prepared. It turns out just getting things done is better. After all if you never finish anything who cares how well you did bits of it or what you had planned. Results speak for themselves.
You could say its time to come clean and air out the old laundry. However the minimalists would suggest just throwing it out and setting yourself free. Not to quote Fight Club deliberately It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything but that kind of applies really well.
It's time for change. The road will be bumpy and in places there won't even be a trail. They say nothing worth doing is ever easy. Believe me, it's not easy.
That's a fair bit of beating around the bush. Basically it's that time again, when I need to get rid of some more of my stuff that's just taking up space and not being truly appreciated.
Just a quick list of things I need to rid myself of and you (or someone you know) might want, if I don't get any interest on here I'll put them up on gumtree. Prices are all flexible within reason;
There's also a heap more computer gear I need to get rid of in the coming months. It's all old though, so if anyones after anything specific let me know and you're welcome to whats not in use.
So the long planned rebuild of my home storage box had been through a few different revisions over the months. Originally I was pretty set on the backblaze case and design. Aiming more for bulk storage than fast. I even went as far as procuring the 9 port mulipliers for this however never found a cheap enough way to get the bare chassis. When comparing the price that the complete backblaze option would cost it even made little sense for anything other than sheer bulk storage.
Next up I was considering getting an entry level NetApp. As I'm in the industry the pricing I could get was looking pretty good - however it was still going to be a tough sell. Limited expandability due to high cost of disk shelves vs the up front system cost. When you factor in the up front cost including ALL disks over 3 years it started to look not so terrible. But it all fell apart when I thought about how to back it up (my current system is backed up zfs send/recv style) which NetApp can do (SnapMirror) however I couldn't simply splurge for a 2nd one. Also with a pretty firm price floor of about $6000 and not having any option on expansion I just couldn't justify it - too many dollars for too little storage. Sure it'd be fast, easy to manage, reliable and quality, for 2 times the price of a DIY box but unable to back it up. Backups are important, very important.
So after that I decided to go down a road quite a few others have too. Off the shelf 4RU 24bay case and cheap LSI SAS HBA's. The only downside was the limitation of 24 drives. To go beyond that I'd either need to build a complete second box, or buy the disk shelf version and additional HBA's. For now that's a future me problem. Fortunately the case was cheap compared to a backblaze one, and included the hotswap backplanes. In a few ways this is the same as the expansion problem of the NetApp (buy a second or high priced shelves) but at least backing it up is possible (current backup box still works) and because I don't need to buy disks it costs only a third of the NetApp.
Regardless of the overall system design, I'd already selected a mainboard & cpu combination. An Intel CPU obviously, and a server class board to ensure enough sufficiently wide PCIe slots.
So the overall parts list is this (and rough price);
I started off by fitting the replacement fan wall and fans. Then I marked and drilled the sides of the rear area to support 3x 2.5" SSD's mounted internally. As I was intending on booting from a USB drive and using rear mounted SSD's for cache.
Next up I worked out how I was going to wire the hot swap backplanes power. Each of these horizontal blades support 4 drives and have 2x standard 4pin molex power connectors. As my power supply has two separate 12V rails I wanted to try to balance these rails as evenly as possible. So I wired up the blades to alternating supplies - even numbered to one, and odd numbered to the other. This resulted in me using some terminal blocks and wiring off to the modular power connectors directly.
Here's the result.
After this I fitted and tested the powersupply and fans. Then the mainboard, CPU and RAM were installed. Now it was ready for some initial testing. Then the SAS HBA's and further testing.
Once the SAS HBA's were installed I was able to map out which slot mapped to which device. Fortunately this wasn't hard to figure out and somehow I had 11 spare disks to assist with this mapping out. On this mainboard, the first 3 PCIe slots were direct to the CPU, and the rest were off the chipset, so I used the top 3 slots (which I number 1-3 from CPU working away, see pic further down). What I ended up with was;
I also took the time to reflash the cards from integrated RAID (IR) mode to initiator target (IT) mode as in this mode it's not so fast to kick out a possibly failing disk (which allows the use of green power drives with fewer issues). After a bit of messing around in UEFI to do this I ended up booting the Win7 install disk and using the command prompt there.
Now for the software side of things. I'd been working on my own OpenSolaris/OpenIndiana derived NAS distribution for a while, but was also interested in trying OmniOS and SmartOS on the hardware. What I found was SmartOS wasn't the best idea for what I wanted. OmniOS was a good start but I'd want to build my idea of a NAS system on top of it (already on my todo list in fact). So for the time being I'd still run my own system.
Then I tried running this within a VM under ESXi. I'd read of a few people doing this with great success however I was skeptical at first - partly due to concerns over how failure situations would be handled. Would a failing disk cause the system instability or worse? However after playing with it and swapping disks hot, I'm much more confident that passing through the whole PCIe card solves any concerns there. The important thing is you need a mainboard and CPU that support the VT-D feature.
The other concern with running a virtualised file server was around performance and latency. I'm glad to report there is such a minimal difference on this hardware that it's not worth thinking about. I did some benchmarks with NetApp's Simulate IO (SIO) tool which shows nearly identical performance before/after. These were done with a 10 disk raidz2 zpool made up of 500GB WD blue drives spread across 3 HBA's.
The exact command line used was sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 1900m 90 50 V:\testfile. The parameters are Read Percentage, Random Percentage, Block size, File Size, Duration (seconds), Thread count, Filename. Using 0 for Read% means only write, and 0 for Random% means sequential. The point of this tool is to simulate IO, so we deliberately use a high number of threads (50) to cause high IO, and a large size to reduce the benefit of memory caching on client and server. For comparison I've included a local SSD run of the same thing. The most relevant figures in here for comparison are IOPS and KB/s each of these are best of two runs.
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): V:\testfile Outputs IOPS: 564 KB/s: 36080 IOs: 50738
Vmware virtual machine install
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): V:\testfile Outputs IOPS: 521 KB/s: 33358 IOs: 46910
Single SATA2 Sandforce based SSD (Win7 NTFS)
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): C:\Users\robert\Desktop\testfile Outputs IOPS: 2445 KB/s: 156497 IOs: 220074
Direct disk copies from my desktop PC's SSD's were limited only by the network. 112MB/s write speed sustained for 30GB (using 4GB test files) over CIFS. Baremetal and virtualised had the same speed - no difference at all.
Next I had to decide how the cache disks would work. With ESXi on baremetal booting off USB, I had an SSD as a datastore to contain the filers boot disk. To provide the cache disks I had a few options:
It didn't look like I could pass through a whole disk off the onboard controllers, so that was out which left me with a datastore layer of overhead or losing hot swap bays.
Then I had to decide on how to expand my zpool. Going into this upgrade I was using some very old hardware (5-7 years old) with drives that were about 2 years old (oldest 5 were 6/feb/2010). There were 10x 2TB WD Green drives in this raidz2 zpool, one with known bad sectors. Earlier in the year when I had purchased an additional two drives due to disk failures that turned out to be a failing mainboard. So I had 12 disks to work with, 1 a little bit dodgy (64kB bad out of 2TB).
Working from the ZFS optimal raid size plan, I decided the next optimal size up from where I was would be one of the following;
So if I allow my dodgy disk to be used as a hot spare, the second option gives me a wider stripe of 19 disks, ultimately better protection to multiple disk failures and still 20 disks in the chassis. Finally I decided to put the cache disks onto the hot swap trays as I had 4 bays free. Why not put 3 SSD's in there then. So that's the plan. Right now there's 2 in there with a 3rd going in once it's been reclaimed from it's current machine. The SSD's have been partitioned (GPT) to have a 2GB slice at the front for ZIL, and the rest of the disk for L2ARC. ZIL mirrored, L2ARC not.
Initial Data Seeding.
To copy my data on I used zfs send/receive via a utility called mbuffer. Mbuffer helps smooth out any drops or bursts in IO on the sending side to help maintain a higher average speed of transfer over the network. In the past I have had some issues with this when sending a whole dataset. This time around however I had no such issues and was able to copy the entire dataset in one continuous operaion.
summary: 12.5 TByte in 39 h 49 min 91.4 MB/s
Now for some final benchmarking (this is with 100GB L2ARC, 2GB ZIL and the 19 disk raidz3 of 2TB WD Green drives)
CIFS: sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 1900m 90 50 V:\testfile
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): V:\testfile Outputs IOPS: 1112 KB/s: 71191 IOs: 100112
NFS4: ./sio_ntap_linux 0 0 64K 1900m 90 50 /storage/siotest/testfile
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): /storage/siotest/testfile Outputs IOPS: 1342 KB/s: 85915 IOs: 120818
Big test (working file size > memory + l2arc size):
CIFS: sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 140g 300 50 V:\testfile2
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 150323855360 Secs: 300 Threads: 50 File(s): V:\testfile2 Outputs IOPS: 727 KB/s: 46506 IOs: 217997
NFS4: ./sio_ntap_linux 0 0 64K 140g 300 50 /storage/siotest/testfile2
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 150323855360 Secs: 300 Threads: 50 File(s): /storage/siotest/testfile2 Outputs IOPS: 1503 KB/s: 96197 IOs: 450923
And now for a real world comparison I ran the same tests on an idle (not in production) NetApp FAS2240-2. However as the test machine was not the same I had to perform benchmarks of my system again from this client. It turned out the test machine is a pile of crap when it comes to network load testing.
CIFS to NetApp FAS2240-2 (19 disk RAID-DP aggregate of 600GB 10k SAS disks - tested from a dual core, 6gb ram laptop via a crossover cable) sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 1900m 90 50 Z:\testfile
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): Z:\testfile Outputs IOPS: 490 KB/s: 31349 IOs: 44082
CIFS to my system, same laptop. sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 1900m 90 50 Z:\testfile
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 1992294400 Secs: 90 Threads: 50 File(s): Z:\testfile Outputs IOPS: 414 KB/s: 26520 IOs: 37299
CIFS to the NetApp again, 49GB test size (didn't have time for mkfile to produce a larger file) (volume not deduped, no flash cache, no flash pool, controller has 6GB RAM, 768MB NVMEM). sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 49g 300 50 Z:\testfile2
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 52613349376 Secs: 300 Threads: 50 File(s): Z:\testfile2 Outputs IOPS: 775 KB/s: 49609 IOs: 232529
CIFS to my system, same laptop, large file test (140gb - unfortunately I didn't test with a 49gb file to equal comparison however that could have fit in L2ARC so wouldn't have been fair anyway) sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 140g 300 50 Z:\testfile2
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 150323855360 Secs: 300 Threads: 50 File(s): Z:\testfile2 Outputs IOPS: 322 KB/s: 20616 IOs: 96639
CIFS to my system, from original desktop pc (showing just how crap that laptop is - tests run on same day as the laptop tests for a control sample) sio_ntap_win32.exe 0 0 64K 140g 300 50 Z:\testfile2
SIO_NTAP: Inputs Read %: 0 Random %: 0 Block Size: 65536 File Size: 150323855360 Secs: 300 Threads: 50 File(s): Z:\testfile2 Outputs IOPS: 854 KB/s: 54676 IOs: 256301
Interpreting the SIO results can be a bit of dark voodoo. Unfortunately I wasn't able to test the NetApp with a more realistic system - the laptop is clearly crap achieving only 37% of the IOPS my desktop could achieve over the same network. Ignoring the crap laptop for now, this shows that the NetApp is clearly superior (as what should be expected) however my a much smaller margin that I had expected. On the small test (which would fit in the ram of both systems) the NetApp achieves 18% more IOPS (and throughput). For the large test the gap widens dramatically (however test sizes were different). I'd be willing to bet the NetApp had much more headroom available for load than my system did - of course this wouldn't be visible with such a crap test machine. Due to this I think these tests are flawed and totally useless, apart from proving that my work laptop fails at networking.
One thing I did notice while running these tests which I'd never seen before, was large use of the ZIL. Previously when I had a mirrored ZIL on SSD's I'd allocated 8GB for it, however I'd never seen it above about 200MB ever. I based 8GB on the old "how much data could you ingest in 30 seconds, and double it". Allowing for a maxed out 1Gbit interface, 8GB seemed a good number. However I never saw it anyway near used. So this time around I worked out a 2GB number from a more conservative "how much data could you ingest in 8 seconds, doubled", and working from 125MB/s. 8 seconds because the default flush interval is 5 seconds. In practice when writing flat out the disks are all only hit for a burst every 5 seconds. Part of this ZIL sizing comes from my NetApp experience where the NVRAM/NVMEM performs ultimately the same function (but is battery backed for power loss/crash consistency). Only the biggest NetApp system has 8GB NVRAM and it can easily write from a filled 10GbE interfaces out to over 1000 disks. Consider the FAS2240 I've been comparing it to, that has 768MB (which also is halved if used in an HA pair because it's a mirror of the partner's NVMEM too). This suggests I might be around the right ballpark even though the comparison is not totally apples:apples.
During the large file NFS SIO tests above I ran a quick zpool iostat -v 5 300 and spotted ZIL usage above 1.5GB! Fortunately it didn't stay there and hovered around 1GB for most of the test. Perhaps 2GB is close to correct, if not slightly too small for this system? Following is the zpool iostat while running NFS SIO tests;
capacity operations bandwidth pool alloc free read write read write ------------ ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- marlow 16.0T 18.5T 96 1.68K 12.1M 146M raidz3 16.0T 18.5T 96 605 12.1M 70.2M c5t2d0 - - 79 47 645K 4.64M c5t3d0 - - 79 75 665K 4.63M c5t4d0 - - 79 48 655K 4.65M c5t5d0 - - 79 69 653K 4.64M c5t6d0 - - 78 90 646K 4.63M c5t7d0 - - 79 64 649K 4.64M c6t1d0 - - 79 47 653K 4.65M c6t2d0 - - 79 45 658K 4.65M c6t3d0 - - 79 45 660K 4.65M c6t4d0 - - 80 45 658K 4.65M c6t5d0 - - 79 45 658K 4.65M c6t6d0 - - 79 45 663K 4.65M c6t7d0 - - 79 45 651K 4.65M c7t1d0 - - 78 51 643K 4.64M c7t2d0 - - 78 47 646K 4.65M c7t3d0 - - 78 71 644K 4.64M c7t4d0 - - 79 72 653K 4.63M c7t5d0 - - 78 45 650K 4.65M c7t6d0 - - 79 47 656K 4.65M logs - - - - - - mirror 1.51G 485M 0 1.09K 0 76.1M c6t0d0s0 - - 0 1.09K 0 76.1M c7t0d0s0 - - 0 1.09K 0 76.1M cache - - - - - - c6t0d0s1 53.9G 0 32 142 4.03M 17.7M c7t0d0s1 53.9G 0 33 135 4.14M 16.8M ------------ ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
And for the overall happy snaps. This is a nearly finished internal shot of the rear part of the case, showing the mainboard, two cooling fans (which now have 50ohm resistors in series to slow them down) and the nearly finished cable routing. The PCI cards are HBA1, HBA2, HBA3 from top to bottom. On the Intel SASU8CI card, the connector closest to the mainboard is SAS ports 0-3, and the other connector is 4-7. Since this photo was taken I've also added 2 more 8GB memory modules (taking it to 32GB total), the Intel Remote Management Module (RMM) (which gives me remote console, remote cdrom/usb capability) and an Intel Quad port ethernet card.
Front view showing the UPS too. Despite being brand new I do have a failed drive presense LED on bay 15 (4th down on left) which I need to find out about replacing.
Yikes, this has turned into quite a big write up. In a future post I'll go into more detail of the software side particularly my custom openindiania thing.
Ever since I rewrote the code behind this site to be all static (oh you didn't notice) I'd been meaning to update the theme.
Part of the original ploy was to swap out the backend code from wordpress and replace it with my own backend without altering the site appearance at all. This meant slicing up the shocking HTML code which came out of the theme I was using and adapting it to my code.
Fortunately I wasn't using too many features in wordpress and ultimately it had become a maintenance issue. To reduce risk (from software issues leading to a compromise/defacing) and service side resources (I was running mysql only for wordpress) I wanted to produce all the site HTML code from simple simple text files offline and sync them to the web server. Rather than generating on the server or on demand. Ultimately I selected markdown as the formatting for these files (with some minor metadata) and knocked up a tool in C# to iterate over my post files and produce the site (from a template not too unlike T4). This was then synced via rsync-over-ssh to the web server. I considered allowing dropbox to sync it but didn't in the end (yes that was a referral link).
Fast forward over 12 months, and I finally knocked up a new BootStrap based theme. The final motivation to do this was the file server rebuild post which will follow this one. In the previous theme it looked like crap (mainly bulletted list issues). My only issue with building a theme from scratch again is colours. However after some messing around and studying other sites which work I decided on these. Unless someone points out it's utter crap I think I'll leave it as is. To me the colours aren't too strong or in your face which is what I prefer, and it's not far off the default theme colours in Sublime Text which is the editor I built it in. I have to admit, CSS has come a very long way since I last tried to build a clean site with content/presentation separation and a framework like BootStrap gives you an excellent flexible foundation to build on. I'll be sure to use it in a future project (the nas one).
So recently I took a whole week off to work on personal projects. I started by creating a list of things I wanted to achieve in that week, mainly things I'd not quite got to in my normal downtime and then expanded from there. Despite trying to not let this list grow too big - for fear of building an insurmountable task list - I managed to keep it to two main projects and a handful of smaller separate tasks.
The two main projects were deliberately not related, with the idea of being able to spend alternate days on each, or simply swapping when I got stuck or simply needed a change.
Unfortunately I never quite got started on these two projects but did make major progress on nearly everything else. These included rebuilding my file server, regular exercise, rebuilding my desktop pc, catching up on recent TV and a laundry list of random odd jobs around the house.
The file server rebuild deserves a whole post so I'll keep that separate.
The desktop PC was simply an overdue thing. My previous main desktop died (north bridge failure) probably about 2 years ago. Since then I used an Asrock Atom330 as a desktop which then became my media pc and then an AMD based desktop (which began life as a bitcoin mining box). The AMD machine had to run windows due to the linux ati drivers being an epic pile of crap.
So to cut to the chase, I replaced the whole machine;
I think the thing I was most impressed with was at idle the machine uses 40W and at 100%CPU and 100%GPU (CUDA) it was pulling 220W. Oh and I'm back on linux again too which is nice.
The graphics card barely fit in too, which was funny.
That'll do for now. The file server rebuild post is going to be huge!