My new Opensolaris fileserver, preparations

In what little free time I’ve had lately, I’ve been migrating my home fileserver over to Opensolaris. This is for two reasons. First, I’m quite impressed with ZFS. Knowing what I know now about disk failure, I want scrubbing (periodic verification that disk contents are really what you think they are.) Also, the zfs and zpool commands seem a lot more sane than the commands that manipulate the Linux software RAID (md) system. Second, I wanted to replace some of the hardware. The current set of drives is over 3.5 years old, and I could replace those 5 drives with a much simpler mirror of two 1TB drives and get the same capacity (which I still haven’t filled up.)

First I dealt with the issue of “It doesn’t even support my hardware!” Well, actually, it supported all my hardware except my VIA SATA controller card and the on-board SATA controller. After a lot of frustration, I found out from a friend that Opensolaris does support the incredibly-cheap cards based on the SiI3114 chipset, and many people have had good experiences with them. The only other thing that I needed support for in my server which wasn’t supported out-of-the-box was the Marvel Yukon PCI gigabit ethernet that was built-in to the motherboard. There is a driver available from

So far so good. I ordered my 1TB drives, two 4 port SATA cards based on the SiI3114 (never hurts to have more SATA ports, and I think for the best reliability I want to split mirrors across the two SATA cards. I also decided that, since I wanted to put the root pool on a different disk from the data pool, instead of putting it on a cruddy old IDE disk I had around, I’d try installing the rpool on a mirror of 8GB CompactFlash cards. So, I ordered 2 CF to SATA adapters off Ebay from some guy in Hong Kong. But, I was feeling impatient, so when I ordered my CF cards elsewhere, I also ordered a dual CF to IDE adapter.

In my next post, I’ll detail all I went through getting Opensolaris installed and my new hardware set up.

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