Five fun and useful uses for an extra PCI slot

Anytime I pick up a “new” desktop/server/workstation class system, I check out the available PCI slots to see what my I/O options will be. There’s usually some open space there, and sometimes (especially when I’m building a system from board+case) there will be available “slots” on the case with no corresponding PCI slot on the system board.

Based on a recent home office closet cleaning, I’ve been inspired to share my top five uses for a spare slot.  Continue reading

System Build Report: A Xeon-D “HTPC” for FreeBSD Corral or VMware vSphere

I’ve been planning to do some network testing and deploy some new storage for VMware vSphere in the home lab. My Synology NAS boxes (DS1513+ and DS1813+) have good performance but are limited to four 1GbE ports each, and my budget won’t allow a 10GbE-capable Synology this spring. [See below for a note on those $499 Synology systems on Amazon.] Continue reading

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now – are they just vapor?

For those of you not of a certain age… a bit of a soundtrack for this post.

 

 

I wrote last month about the “antsle” “personal cloud server,” and a few people on Minds had a brisk but respectful debate over whether it was cloud, and whether there was more to cloud than cloud storage (i.e. Dropbox, Box, Owncloud, OneDrive, Sugarsync, etc).

It got me to thinking about how I’d define “cloud” and why others feel differently. So here’s a bit of a soft-topic consideration for you along the way.

I was first exposed to the buzzword around 2009, when a major PC and IT gear reseller from the midwest was trying to convince me on every call and email thread that I should buy The Cloud(tm). My rep never could tell me why, or what problem it would solve, a common shortcoming of quota-bound sales reps. I think the closest to a justification I ever got was “Just give a try, you’ll be able to tell where you can use it.” And I didn’t.

As the current decade rolled along, anyone running the server side of a client/server model called themselves The Cloud(tm). And of course, Amazon Web Services and other players came along to give their own definitions and market shares to the matter.

Today, at its extreme interpretation, anything not running in focus on your current personal device is probably considered “cloud” by someone. And to be fair to antsle, that’s where they fit in a way.  Continue reading

A quick word on VAAI and FreeNAS/TrueNAS

[I have a lot of stuff in my head to tell you all about, but I also have a thousand square feet of inventory and storage to move an average of two miles this weekend… so keep an eye out for more lengthy posts coming later in the month. ]

I’m helping a friend’s startup get some infrastructure built, and one of the things I’m looking at is shoring up their VMware environment. They’re not ready for any of the common sub-six-letter names that usually come up for a vSphere storage platform yet… even a Celerra is overkill for five developers, I’d have to say.

So I was looking into VAAI support on the TrueNAS appliances from iXsystems (and of course FreeNAS itself). The first three search results I found were actually this blog, some cached twitter roll comments where I said I didn’t know if TrueNAS/FreeNAS supported VAAI.

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Well, I got it on good authority this afternoon that VAAI support is in the plans for FreeNAS over at iXsystems. There’s no current date for when it will be released, but they’ve jumped through a number of flaming hoops already to get ready, and will be keeping me (and you all by extension) up to date on progress.

For those of you using FreeNAS in your home lab, this probably won’t stop you from using it as shared storage for your VMware lab environment, or anything else for that matter. But if you’re considering TrueNAS for VMware storage, or need the full-on VAAI feature set, this will make things smoother in the foreseeable future.

And an unsolicited and uncompensated plug here (although if they want help testing a FreeNAS Mini Plus, they know where to find me)…

iXsystems are a hardware vendor who are a good friend to open source. They’re probably best known for their support of FreeBSD and FreeNAS (and Jordan Hubbard is joining them as new CTO this month), but they also sponsor Slackware, and make some cool storage appliances as well as a line of servers that come with open software history and support behind them. They’ve long been a friend of BayLISA, the Silicon Valley sysadmin group I’m involved with, as well as the Bay Area FreeBSD User Group and other organizations. Check them out if you’re looking for servers, workstations, or software.

Now back to moving… why did I need a Centillion 100 again? Anybody?

[PS: Welcome to all of you who followed iXsystems over here to my blog. For full disclosure, I am currently president of BayLISA, the Silicon Valley system administration user group, but this stuff is mostly written as Robert Novak, blogger, rather than Robert Novak, BayLISA cheerleader-in-chief.]