Intel D2500CCE and Xen/pfSense/freeNas Combo



  • Hi,

    I was wondering if anyone has any ideas of how well this configuration would run?  Does this processor/mobo/memory combo have enough processing power for my needs?

    I'm looking in to getting an Intel D2500CCE Atom with 4GB of ram and running both pfSense and freeNAS in the Xen hypervisor.  I have a 10/1 cable modem and I don't run Snort or HAVP but I do run openVPN.  The thought of getting better utilization out of this machine is intriguing and besides my wife would probably never go for building two machines.  I 'm just happy she's onboard with me spending the money to build a pfSense box in the first place.  She really hates to big beige box in the living room and she likes the idea of the new machine being more power efficient.

    I've seen that some people on here are concerned about running a NAS on the same box as your router.  But is this still a concern if there running separately in a hypervisor?

    Thanks for your input.

    Matt



  • Ok so maybe I should have looked at the hardware requirements on the FreeNAS website first before I posted the above post.  Looks like FreeNAS requires a lot of memory.  Much more than I would have thought for a BSD installation.  It's too bad that the D2500CCE has a 4GB ram limitation.

    So maybe my question should be; has anyone here have experience with a Xen/pfSense/FreeNAS installation on suitable hardware?  If so what did that hardware combo look like?

    Matt



  • it works just fine,

    I used this

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101364

    with a 8GB crucial kit (it only claims 4GB max)

    supermicro 3.5 to dual 2.5 (good for 1TB drives in a mirror)

    2 40MM delta fans foam double stick taped in place to a little more cooling.

    and a intel GBE quad "et" card.

    I have 4GB to each VM, it was made for heavy use but ended up getting repurposed.

    the box has been in use for a bit over 2 years.



  • That looks like a really nice setup there starshooter10.  Are you running the ZFS or UFS file system on FreeNAS?  Also how hard was it to configure the networking?  I've never installed Xen yet.  Is it as easy as Virtualbox to configure to get multiple VM's on the same virtual LAN?



  • You probably should be looking at NAS4Free rather than FreeNAS.

    ZFS memory requirements can be huge if you want decent performance.



  • I'll check out NAS4Free gderf.  Thanks.



  • Virtualization wise, the Atom D2500 CPU on that board does not support VT-x.  I'm not an expert in XEN, but you may have issues with running some OSes as paravirtualized VMs.  I do not know the status of pfSense nor FreeNAS in respect to paravirtualized XEN support.  Your hardware could run VMware ESXi, which would allow the respective OSes to be fully virtualized even with out VT-x, you just wouldn't be able to run x64 bit versions of them.  (Of course, this is where your problem looks like a nail while I have my VMWare hammer in hand, which is very often.)

    As to Memory constraints, you could also look at some other NAS like applications that are less feature robust, but run in less RAM.  For a casual file server I use UnRAID, it shares them out as SMB/CIFS shares, which Windows likes, you can use parity with dis-similar disks, and only really needs 512MB of RAM to run ok.  People run these in VMs all the time.  I do use FreeNAS, though, so UnRAID isn't just a "what I'm familiar" with recommendation, I use FreeNAS as an iSCSI SAN for a Dev/Test VMware cluster.



  • Thanks matguy.  Looks like I have some research to do on VMware ESXi.  I didn't know this was free and available.  I thought Xen was the only free hypervisor out there.

    This looks like it's going to take some time to come up with a good solution for hardware and software.  I only want to have to buy this hardware once and I absolutely want to get it right.  I've played around with Virtualbox quite a bit but it looks like I'm going to have to start researching other solutions and learning a little bit more about virtualization.



  • @mattness:

    … looks like I'm going to have to start researching other solutions and learning a little bit more about virtualization.

    Might evolve in to a good job, did for me ;)



  • That's great to hear matguy.  I've recently began studying for the A+ exam to obtain an entry level certificate to an IT career.  Good to know that some of the information I'm learning about pfSense and virtualization might also help me get a job someday as well.  Now I just wish I had more hardware to play around with.  Virtualbox is great and all but real hardware is no substitute for hypervisors like EXSi or Xen.



  • @mattness:

    That's great to hear matguy.  I've recently began studying for the A+ exam to obtain an entry level certificate to an IT career.  Good to know that some of the information I'm learning about pfSense and virtualization might also help me get a job someday as well.  Now I just wish I had more hardware to play around with.  Virtualbox is great and all but real hardware is no substitute for hypervisors like EXSi or Xen.

    Also, "real" hardware doesn't have to be new hardware.  I personally check out the local hardware recyclers in my area, one deals in all sorts of various hardware, another seems to specialize in business hardware recycling, so they get old servers and such.  You can get some neat stuff for pretty cheap.

    Or, some desktops make decent servers for testing/learning.  I have a bunch of old Dell and HP desktops being used as various types of servers.  A couple HP DC7700p's (Core2Duo) are VMware ESXi hosts, a Dell XG280 is an UnRAID server with 5 internal drives, a couple mini Dell XG260's are Domain Controllers (mostly for internal DNS at this point), an old Dell GX100 is a m0n0wall (pfSense forked from m0n0wall) router.  The HP's you can get for under $100 each, the Dell 280's you can get for well under $100, the 260's can be found for under $50, the 100… harder to find, but it's an old PIII series Celeron.

    I also am "bad" about rescuing hardware from surplus at work, made my last move difficult.  And, a lot of that isn't very "wife" compatible, especially if you don't have private space to dedicate to it.



  • Yeah I'm going to have to check out the hardware recyclers around the DFW area.  Right now my only spare machine (AMD Athlon XP 3000+) is my current pfSense box.  Most of the places that I've gone to that sell used hardware are way to proud of what they have.  New equipment can be had for some of the prices that I've seen around.

    Right now I'm running a four year old late 2008 Macbook with 8GB of ram and I'm able to simultaneously run 4 VM's (pfSense, NAS4Free, Xp and Kubuntu 12.04) and they all run fairly well.  Only occasionally does the mouse lock up for a bit when one of the VM's is doing something intense.


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