HowTo:Nexenta

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13 May 2010, coming soon, stay tuned. I'm working on a step by step as we speak.

For now amuse yourself by reading about how Nexenta goes faster than Openfiler and Dell/Equallogic.

Here's my $0.02 on Nexenta. (Based on my use of the free NexentaStor Community Edition, 3.0.2.

To summarize: If you are looking for storage appliance software, try Nexenta first. Maybe you'll luck out and Nexenta will like your hardware. If not, run Openfiler.

The Nexenta Community Edition is free to use. They do make you register it. That's a bit of a hassle, especially if you fat-finger the key ("Is that an I or a 1?")

The Nexenta load is no harder than, and arguably easier, than loading Openfiler.

Nexenta is more picky about hardware than Openfiler. Some machines that run Openfiler fine won't run Nexenta at all. Since Nexenta is based on OpenSolaris, the OpenSolaris Hardware Compatibility List may give you some guidance whether your hardware will run Nexenta.

Speaking of pickiness, I've had Nexenta repeatedly give me grief at install time on certain machines. The installer starts, doesn't get very far, and then reboots. I found that Nexenta doesn't like the BIOS APCI power settings. If you see this, try fiddling with APCI in BIOS (like turning it off).

Openfiler is a bit "fiddly" at times. Something that you know for a fact works, doesn't, and you wind up dinking with it. For example, I almost always wind up throwing my first iSCSI target away, and making a second one.

If Nexenta loads at all (see comment about hardware pickiness above), it just works the first time, every time, smooth sailing.

Openfiler 2.3 "out of the box" is broken. iSCSI luns will present once, but will not present again after a reboot. This is well discussed issue. It's easy to fix, but it's unfortunate that the Openfiler people haven't addressed it.

I like the built in patcher in the Openfiler GUI. I'm not sure how Nexenta does patching.

Nexenta is prettier, especially if you have flash. The little tachometer gauges are especially cute.

Some of the advanced features in the pay-for-commercial NexentaStor 3.0, like the High Availability Cluster Plugin are supposedly easy to deploy. Openfiler has features like this as well, but few mortal humans have ever figured out how to actually use them.

Nexenta status during an Iometer run

When a Drive Fails

During set up, if you configure the email related parameters, Nexenta will send you emails. Some are daily "everything's fine" status emails. When something bad happens, though, Nexenta will send you an email about. For example, I had a data drive in one of my zfs raidz sets go bad, This is the email I got:

FAULT: **********************************************************************
FAULT: Appliance   : filer2 (OS v3.0.2, NMS v3.0.2-1)
FAULT: Machine SIG : BBIEIEHAE
FAULT: Primary MAC : 0:27:19:b0:6b:7b
FAULT: Time        : Tue May 18 21:51:25 2010
FAULT: Trigger     : volume-check
FAULT: Fault Type  : ALARM
FAULT: Fault ID    : 500
FAULT: Fault Count : 2
FAULT: Severity    : NOTICE
FAULT: Action      : Administrative action may be required
FAULT: Description : Volume 'zvol0' is DEGRADED
FAULT: **********************************************************************

!
! For more detais on this trigger click on link below:
! http://192.168.1.12:2000/data/runners?selected_runner=volume-check
!

 Volume: zvol0
=============================================================================
 pool: zvol0
 state: DEGRADED
status: One or more devices has experienced an unrecoverable error.  An
       attempt was made to correct the error.  Applications are unaffected.
action: Determine if the device needs to be replaced, and clear the errors
       using 'zpool clear' or replace the device with 'zpool replace'.
  see: http://www.sun.com/msg/ZFS-8000-9P
 scrub: scrub in progress for 0h41m, 16.03% done, 3h35m to go
config:

       NAME        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
       zvol0       DEGRADED     0     0     0
         raidz1-0  DEGRADED     0     0     0
           c2t2d0  ONLINE       0     0     0
           c2t3d0  DEGRADED     0     0 2.34K  too many errors
- Hide quoted text -
           c2t4d0  ONLINE       0     0     0
           c2t5d0  ONLINE       0     0     0

errors: No known data errors

Uh-oh! I guess one of $50 SATA drives decided to head south. Good thing that I was using ZFS. I didn't notice, everything continued to function, and I didn't notice it slowing down even.

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