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post #1 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I've put together a 12-drive hardware RAID box with a p77 mobo and i5 3750k proc and 12gb RAM. I plan on using it as the main media server for a house full of PLEX clients. I also want to be able to set it up as a general NAS and FTP server...AND be able to use it to feed my home theater room. What is the easiest way to do this? Preferably using free software. I already have Win7x64 running on it.

I was thinking just install Win 7 and then VMWare or Virtual Machine and run freeBSD or freeNAS on a VM. Then I can set it up so the regular Win 7 pulls a logical drive from that VM? I dont even know if thats possible. I have no experience with running VMs.

Thanks for any input.
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post #2 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 03:11 PM
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Is there a reason why you want it set up as a nas instead of just sharing the drives?

I have a similar setup as you. 10tb server running win 7. I also use it for my torrent client, ftp server, etc. It also feeds media to the other htpc's in the house.

I use software raid. (snapraid). Adding a vm sounds like added complexity for minimal gain. But maybe I'm missing the benefit.
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post #3 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm guessing by "sharing the drives" you mean just setting up a windows workgroup? I will have an Apple computer and a Popcorn Hour that I need to be able to access my media with.

Like I said I'm not really sure what the best way to do it is, so if you think I'm making it too complicated and know of an easier solution please let me know

Thanks!
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post #4 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 05:08 PM
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According to Google popcorn hour and apple can both read smb shares. Which is what windows uses. It's not a workgroup the drives are just shared over the network.

I did come across some issue where osx lion uses smb 2.0

I use neither of those devices though so I am not confirming anything. Just giving you some info.
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post #5 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oapy123 View Post

I've put together a 12-drive hardware RAID box with a p77 mobo and i5 3750k proc and 12gb RAM. I plan on using it as the main media server for a house full of PLEX clients. I also want to be able to set it up as a general NAS and FTP server...AND be able to use it to feed my home theater room. What is the easiest way to do this? Preferably using free software. I already have Win7x64 running on it.
I was thinking just install Win 7 and then VMWare or Virtual Machine and run freeBSD or freeNAS on a VM. Then I can set it up so the regular Win 7 pulls a logical drive from that VM? I dont even know if thats possible. I have no experience with running VMs.
Thanks for any input.

To do an all-in-one, take a look at this: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1573272 -- That's basically what I'm running.

I don't know how stable it would be running the configuration you've proposed with Win7 as the base OS.
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post #6 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcturkey View Post

To do an all-in-one, take a look at this: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1573272 -- That's basically what I'm running.
I don't know how stable it would be running the configuration you've proposed with Win7 as the base OS.

I do something very similar using ESXI5 as the baseline OS with one VM running ZFSGuru to provide ZFS-based storage (Samba, AFP, iSCSI and NFS) to all the other VMs. I even use iSCSI to provide storage to my HTPC clients running small SSD boot drives so they have a drive to record TV. I got my strategy from from the link above, the only difference is that I use ZFSGuru (FreeBSD based) instead of one of the Solaris derivatives.
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post #7 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 08:34 PM
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you can research ESXi and see if that is something you would want to pursue. The benefit with that is if you are planning to run a NAS, then you can pool individual drives as a storage and make a RAID for something like freeNAS 8 w/ ZFS. Core i5 should be plenty but if you can do consider core i7.
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post #8 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to be honest, that looks pretty darn complicated considering I have zero experience with any of it. Maybe I am confused but isnt the main point of ZFS to have the same benefits of a hardware RAID without having to actually have a hardware raid card? In my case I already have a good one (3ware 9650SE-12ML).

What you're proposing is that I run ESXi as the base operating system using my SSD OS drive on the on-board SATA controller....and on that create one VM for the NAS (map the 3-ware controller to this) and one VM for windows (feeding off the NAS VM) where I can install the plex software and run my home theater room? So basically the same concept I had except instead of windows 7 i'd be using ESXi (which you believe to be more stable for this purpose?)

Just trying to wrap my head around all of this. Considering my lack of experience with non-windows operating systems (I know my way around Linux), do you think this is something a n00b can handle or should I just try it my way with Windows first and see how it works?

I appreciate all of the advice/suggestions.
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post #9 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 09:47 PM
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I know some people feel standard windows in a server is sacrelig. But I am still looking for the advantages with all this complicated setup. Not my machine though and not trying to knock anyones setup. Just wondering if its worth it for someone new to all of it.

OP in your title you mention "htpc" as one of the requirements. You also say you want this to "be able to use it to feed my home theater room". Did you mean using this machine as an actual htpc as in hdmi to the home theater? Or feeding the home theater as in serving media to it?
Just thought that would clear things up a tiny bit. Good luck to you sir. I'm sure it will be fun whatever road you choose. I'd love to hear your results if you end up going the VM route.
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post #10 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I mean that this box will be an actual HTPC feeding my A/V receiver via HDMI....in addition to being a NAS and plex media server
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post #11 of 18 Old 08-16-2012, 11:38 PM
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I built a very similar box (minus some storage capactiy) and wanted to do the same thing.

I was interested in ESXI5, but like you I thought it seemed complicated - and I wasn't sure how video for the HTPC portion would be (would it be equivalent to running straight windows, or laggy and not as good?). Do if you decide to try the ESXI5 please let us know how it goes smile.gif
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post #12 of 18 Old 08-17-2012, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oapy123 View Post

I mean that this box will be an actual HTPC feeding my A/V receiver via HDMI....in addition to being a NAS and plex media server

Ok thats the first part I would consider. If win 7 is not the base you need to do HD video/ possible HD audio bitstreaming out of the vm software. While probably possible just another hurdle to consider.

Just ran across this, not sure how old it is.
Run freenas in a virtual enviroment

And it refers to using Virtualbox which is a free open source virtualization app.
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post #13 of 18 Old 08-17-2012, 07:39 AM
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What are you going to do to get the Mid Tower(I'm assuming) to blend into your room? Most HTPC guys want a small case or at least a horizontal case that looks the same format as your standard receiver.
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post #14 of 18 Old 08-17-2012, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

What are you going to do to get the Mid Tower(I'm assuming) to blend into your room? Most HTPC guys want a small case or at least a horizontal case that looks the same format as your standard receiver.

its a dedicated theater room...all the equipment will be in another room so I just used a cheap mid-tower case since looks dont matter.
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post #15 of 18 Old 08-17-2012, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by oapy123 View Post

its a dedicated theater room...all the equipment will be in another room so I just used a cheap mid-tower case since looks dont matter.

Yeah, if looks isn't an issue I still prefer the tower layout.
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post #16 of 18 Old 08-17-2012, 07:23 PM
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The main concern with Windows 7 as your base instead of ESXi or another dedicated Hypervisor, is that of graceful recovery of VMs in the event that the host OS has to reboot, or suffers some sort of crash. ESXi pretty much never has to be rebooted unless you're changing hardware or applying one of the very infrequent updates that is released. Windows 7, on the other hand, would need to be rebooted quite a bit more often for updates (yes, you could turn them off, but that is risky on a system that is housing that much data). That means ensuring that it safely powers down all the VMs before doing so - without native OS support for it, that can be a tricky feat to accomplish in any sort of automated fashion. There is also the issue of passing hardware through to FreeNAS - I don't think you could do this in Windows 7, so you'd be forced to create virtual disks on those drives, and then have FreeNAS use those. While that would work, it does introduce another layer of complexity into the system.

Now, another option if you'd prefer to stick with the familiarity of Windows would be using Hyper-V as your base, though you'd have to learn how to manage it through remote tools or the CLI unless you have access to a full copy of Server 2008 (or 2012 when that releases next month), since the free version of Hyper-V does not have a native GUI.
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post #17 of 18 Old 08-18-2012, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I've pretty much decided to skip the virtualization. It just seems like too much of a headache and too great a chance of losing data if the box crashes.

I've decided instead to just run PlexMediaServer and PlexMediaClient on Win7x64 and set up the raid array as a networked disc in windows. Then for my Apple products and my Popcorn Hour I'll set up SMB shares. This is a much much easier and safer method. I'm not sure why I didnt think of this in the first place.
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post #18 of 18 Old 08-22-2012, 10:26 PM
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You already knew this, just trying to ensure the best setup thus over complicating things. :P I do the same thing....

I've got a similar setup btw and it runs great. My main HTPC serves as our main tv, ripping, encoding, connecting to an external 4-bay (for now), and shared to my sons computer and daughters apple tv through SMB shares.
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