Can the HP Proliant MicroServer Gen8 G1610T run both FreeNAS and pfSense?



  • I'm looking for a Pfsense router and FreeNAS back-up server to get more experienced with FreeNAS and ZFS. Is the HP Proliant MicroServer Gen8 G1610T a decent server to run both at the same time?

    • FreeNAS

    • pfSense

    It's not going to become my primary NAS, but will become my primary router. I'm looking for a budget solution, but FreeNAS is so difficult with hardware requirements (no AMD, watch out with virtualization) and currently the most important would be Pfsense, but it'd be great to be able to do both.

    I haven't decided on how to run Pfsense yet either, perhaps install FreeNAS on the hardware and virtualize Pfsense, or learn about jails, or possibly ESXi, which I've used a lot, but seems to be always used with a pass-through HBA. I'm looking for a solution that's decently supported. I want FreeNAS and Pfsense to be up 99,5%+ of the time without having to look and worry about them.

    I like that this HP server has an Intel CPU (supported), 2 ethernet ports (Pfsense WAN+LAN), ECC RAM and 4 disk bays (enough). I'm open to look at alternatives, but low power-usage is important to me and this box doesn't need to run any other VM's or do any Plex transcoding. I have another VMware server for that.



  • This could be interesting as I recently obtained a Supermicro server with Intel Xeon E3-1240 with 4 disk bays and 2 Intel NICs and ECC RAM. It also has a LSI MegaRAID 4 port SAS card installed.

    Since the machine is way too powerful to be just a pfSense router, I too was thinking about setting up pfSense in a virtualized environment and using the server for some other things. I already have a 6 bay FreeNAS box, so this could either be a backup or a 2nd FreeNAS box. Unfortunately I do not have much experience with virtualization or ESXi, so I hope to learn more from this thread and others.



  • Yes it will run both under ESXi.  I can't comment about other virtualization platforms.  I run NAS4Free and pfSense under ESXi, along with some other VMs.

    You will already know that you need more than 4 GB of installed RAM to install ESXi.

    The G1620T doesn't support AES-NI, which will be required for pfSense 2.5.  I've upgraded both of my Gen8 machines to E3-1265L v2 Xeons, which are getting hard to find and aren't cheap.

    Make sure you have the latest firmware on the Gen8, including Intelligent Provisioning. (IP Version 1.64B is current for the Gen 8, I think.)

    ZFS on a VM is probably not going to get you a lot but if it's a backup NAS you can at least get the experience.

    There is a How To for pfSense on ESXi in https://doc.pfsense.org



  • Another interesting CPU alternative is the I5-3470T and yes it will run i a G8 (I'm doing it myself)
    it packs more punch, supports AES-Ni and it has a 35W tdp



  • I think I'll buy the HP ProLiant MicroServer (Gen8, G1610T) and replace the CPU yeah.



  • @Inxsible:

    This could be interesting as I recently obtained a Supermicro server with Intel Xeon E3-1240 with 4 disk bays and 2 Intel NICs and ECC RAM. It also has a LSI MegaRAID 4 port SAS card installed.

    Since the machine is way too powerful to be just a pfSense router, I too was thinking about setting up pfSense in a virtualized environment and using the server for some other things. I already have a 6 bay FreeNAS box, so this could either be a backup or a 2nd FreeNAS box. Unfortunately I do not have much experience with virtualization or ESXi, so I hope to learn more from this thread and others.

    Follow this guide, it's quiet simple once you get it. I'm sure you know more about networking than I do, which will help.
    https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/PfSense_on_VMware_vSphere_/_ESXi

    In short:

    • Create a WANvSwitch
    • Create a LANvSwith
    • Create a PortGroup for WAN (Finally you should place Pfsense as the only DHCP-client in this PortGropu)
    • Create a PortGroup for LAN (for your VM's and all devices in the house)
    • Create a a separate LAN port group on the LAN vSwitch for the ESXi management interface. Somehow you can't create a VMkernel interface on the LAN PortGroup, but it's connected to the LANvSwitch, so all the same.

    Your cable provider could check your MAC address and you might have to unplug your cable modem for a few minutes.

    You can even test first and start with virtual switches that don't have a a physical uplink, so you won't bring half the network offline if you misconfigure something. If the Pfsense has 2 interfaces and the LAN interface will have 192.168.1.1/24 as it's IP and you are running a DHCP server, just spin up another VM in the same LAN port group and you'll quickly find out if that's working.

    It's a good idea to use static IP addresses for your ESX management interfaces on LAN. You shouldn't need one at WAN in the end, but it might be handy if your Pfsense VM is not connected straight to your cable mode, although I guess this could be a NAT in NAT.

    You should be able to enable passthrough on the LSI-controller. Log into your ESXi box, go to hardware and you will see your PCIe devices and a "toggle passthrough" button. You have to reboot after this, but then you can attach the PCIe device to a VM.

    Anyway, I'm not great at explaining this. Just follow the pictures at https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/PfSense_on_VMware_vSphere_/_ESXi and let me know if you get stuck anywhere.