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Installing SmartOS on ASUS RS720-E6/RS12

11 июня, 2013

In May we’ve got the gift. It was a 2U server ASUS. I’m not joking. Good guys said that they could not apply this hardware in their business and decided to give us a gift. Well, not just for pretty eyes, you know. They simply liked what our editors made on one of our news portals and actually made a gift for them.

Anyway. I’ve got this server and decided to put it under SmartOS. SmartOS is special OS intended for virtualization. It is a successor of popular Sun Solaris OS, to be more precise — of its open version OpenSolaris which was closed by itself in 2010. Due to this virtualization intention SmartOS doesn’t boot from hard drive. It boots from USB-stick. Isn’t it strange? No! OS loads on RAM disk and operates faster. All hard drives are used for user’s virtual machines data. There is a great sense in such design! Also USB-booting is intended only for standalone installations. Because in cloud environment servers are booting from PXE-servers which could be not necessarily under SmartOS. So I did not pay much attention to the disks setup. There were 4 1Tb HDDs and 4 225Gb SSDs under Pike 2108 RAID-controller.

I’ve got some 4Gb USB-stick which was found in one of my table boxes. I haven’t think much then… I put OS on stick without any problem. You could follow the link to learn how to do that. After inserting USB in the server I booted it successfully and went home. That happened in datacenter in Moscow and I left home to St.Petersburg where I live…

After arriving I logged in to the server and had seen very funny thing. SmartOS put ZFS on RAID that was set up by default. Default in ASUS were two RAID-1s: one on all 1Tb disks and 1 on all SSDs. So controller exposed two virtual disks to the BIOS. When I’ve installed OS for the first time I didn’t think much and put them in the line for making one pool, thinking that smart ZFS will make the best of all the disks! What do you think happened? ZFS made its own RAID-1 from these two virtual disks leaving volume of the smallest for operations. It could not satisfy me and I’ve organized KVM session for setting up hardware RAID. For the best performance and freedom with ZFS I’ve made RAID-0 on every given disk resulting in 8 virtual disks equal to physical ones. After rebooting and making ZFS pool on 4 1TB disks I calmed down. SSD disks were left for caching and other fast operations.

Satisfied with ZFS I decided to put the latest version of SmartOS on server’s USB. This procedure is also quite easy. But in the middle of the  «dd-ing» the USBdisk, it suddenly stopped to response. Wow! I realized that disk was intended for carrying presentations but not for working in server 24 hours a day! It simply burned out from the temperature on heavy data operation I think.

So we came to the state when I cant reboot. Because there is no boot media. But there is working OS from memory. And this is not such little. I decided to create zones and start running virtual machines. Also I’ve ordered Kingston 64Gb USB for $100 to be delivered in Datacenter.

Be careful with planning disks for SmartOS and pay attention to good USB-stick if you plan to boot your server from it.

To be continued.

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