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The Big WHS: 8 File-Serving OS’s Virtualized in one 4U Server

The Big WHS: 8 File-Serving OS’s Virtualized in one 4U Server

by Patrick KennedyMarch 22, 2010

Now that the Big WHS is stable, and I have a bit more storage capacity than I need, I decided that Windows Home Server running virtualized in a Hyper-V virtual machine is good, but I wanted to test out some of the free WHS alternatives. A quck listing of the NAS operating systems installed on the current box shows is:

  1. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 hosting, using Hyper-V:
  2. Windows Home Server (My WHS VM)
  3. FreeNAS
  4. OpenFiler
  5. unRaid
  6. CentOS
  7. EON
  8. Ubuntu
Hyper-V, WHS, Windows Server 2008 R2, CentOS, unRaid, Openfiler, Ubuntu, FreeNAS, EON on one machine

A complete NAS: Hyper-V, WHS, Windows Server 2008 R2, CentOS, unRaid, Openfiler, Ubuntu, FreeNAS, EON all on one machine

I will post some thoughts on each later this week. If anyone has any specific requests, please feel free to leave a comment below. Performance wise, I have the WHS virtual machine running over one of the Intel Pro/1000 PT Quad’s gigabit ports that is dedicated to that VM. Performance is quite good as I have ironed out many of the bugs that intially plagued the speed and have been seeing 101MB/s fairly consistently. Not perfect, but I am routing traffic through two Dell Gigabit switches so this is not a number found over 1 meter of Cat 6.

Just as some additional eye-candy, here is the FreeNAS home screen running from Hyper-V:

FreeNAS under Hyper-V Home Screen

FreeNAS running from Hyper-V Home Screen

Note I did manage to make a RaidZ (software raid 5) array out of vhd’s which was a pretty nice find.

Next up the OpenFiler Hyper-V’s WebGUI:

OpenFiler running under a Hyper-V and Windows Server 2008 R2 Host

OpenFiler running under a Hyper-V and Windows Server 2008 R2 Host

Stay tuned for fun with different NAS applications!

About The Author
Patrick Kennedy
Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.
  • Paul
    March 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I’m pretty anxious to hear your thoughts on which one is the easier to use/seems most robust/etc

  • Andy
    March 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I would love to see some iscsi tests!

    • March 24, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      Will be working on this soon. Week has been working from 7am to 11pm so I am not getting a ton of time to work on this especially since these are not typical Hyper-V guest OSes and they take a bit longer to make operational.

  • bellaireroad
    April 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    what memory are you running on the sm board? thanks

    • April 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      I’m actually using my old 12GB of Patriot DDR3 1600 memory. I upgraded my main box to Corsair Dominator GT C7 1600 and had those left over. They worked fine.

      Also I’m building (just got the parts) an extra server with a Supermicro X8SIL-F and probably an i3-530 + 8GB of RAM this weekend. It should be fun to be able to migrate Hyper-V VM’s.

  • Roger Gleason
    May 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I just got this board up and running with the onboard SAS in JBOD mode. I had to flash the LSI firmware and then dig around for the correct drivers, but it seems stable. The onboard SAS connects to a HP expander with reverse breakout cables, then to the backplane of a norco 4220. I have not figured out the IPMI yet.

  • May 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    The IPMI is pretty easy. You just need to connect to the IP address of that Realtek management NIC (it has DHCP on by default). Once you do that, it fires up in your web browser. From there you can do everything… see the virtual (java) monitor output, attach drives and etc.

  • craig
    May 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Can you tell me what your hardware specs are for this server of yours? I was originally considering building an unRAID server when I learned about BackBlaze’s 45 HDD Extreme Media Server Pod. I would like to be able to virtualize unRAID & FreeNAS & possibly other VMs to play with. Any insight would be appreciated on how you got it all installed & able to play nice. thanks!

  • May 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The test configuration is the Big WHS which you can see current specs for here.

  • Marcel
    August 7, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I notice you have unRAID running. Is it possible with Hyper-V server to boot unRAID from usb drive?

  • August 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Unfortunately unRaid does not play well with Hyper-V. I was just testing it out at that point and the overall effort went poorly.

  • Marcel
    August 10, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Thus better to run two separate machines. Thanks Patrick for the reply! I love your story’s about all the hardware.

  • patrickberry
    November 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    hey patrick,
    great site you have here. and very good setup too.

    there’s so many OS around, which one would you recommend for a 8hdd file server at home?
    and what mobo+card to go around with that setup?

  • November 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

    patrickberry: Thanks for the kind words. It really depends what you want to do with the server. If you just want a simple file server, something like FreeNAS is really great. If you want integrated windows client backups, deduplication, and the ability to do things like media encoding, WHS is pretty much the best there is at the moment. I am probably going to be doing more OS reviews in the near future but Nexenta is becoming a favorite.

    As far as motherboards/ cards, I would personally go with something with IPMI 2.0 and KVM-over-IP. It is really a must-have feature especially since the price premium is only a few dollars. Something like a Supermicro X8SIL-F with an Intel SASUC8I will provide up to 14 SATA ports and work with every OS. If you don’t go with a FreeNAS setup (which is FreeBSD based) then looking at a Supermicro X8SI6-F is a strong option which has the newer LSI SAS 2008 controller built-in. Both of those I have reviewed already and will be looking at an Asus model this weekend that is similar to both of those that may also prove to be a solid choice.

  • Joe
    March 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    You missed:

    ZFS with Solaris Kernel using a GNU Linux Userspace or

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