More on Nexenta

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

To summarize: Good stuff!  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 goes faster that Openfiler.  Nexenta goes faster than my $25,000 Dell/Equallogic PS5000E.

I’m working on a step by step how-to for loading Nexenta.

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  • 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.
    • Werner
    • May 17th, 2010

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

    Just run “$ setup appliance upgrade nms” to upgrade the Web UI or “$ setup appliance upgrade” to upgrade the base OS software in Nexenta Community Edition. Both commands should be run as ‘root’.

  1. Bravo. Quite right. Thanks.

    • Gernot Schmied
    • September 16th, 2010

    Hi,

    OpenFiler is an incredible piece of junk I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of testing extensively. 80% of your time you end up on the command line because the GUI does not reflect the real state of the system, configuration is a lottery, especially iSCSI.

    I recommend FreeNAS or Nexentastor, both are excellent.

    Gernot

  2. Hmm. I have a serious issue with OpenFiler. It has a known (bad) bug for a couple of years now that they haven’t addressed. That makes me think that the project is in decline.

    Having said that, Nexenta is pretty limited on what hardware it will run on. If you’re lucky, your hardware will be well supported by Nexenta/OpenSolaris. If you’re not so lucky, then in my opinion, OpenFiler might be an alternative.

    I find myself at the command line plenty of times with Nexenta. For example there is no GUI way to update it that I’m aware of.

    So I try Nexenta first, and fall back to OpenFiler if my hardware is not supported.

    • Michael Ellsworth
    • August 11th, 2011

    Just wanted to place my 2 cents, Been running NexentaStor for two years now and have tried OpenFiler and FreeNAS on systems that it would not install on. My conclusion is if it didn’t install, it’s probably with good reason. Let’s just say that some controllers with SMART enabled do not report properly failed/failing drives when they should. Also those systems have been flaky at best.

    • Chakravarthi PS
    • October 13th, 2011

    Is there any open source storage appliance which will support VMware VAAI ?

  3. Good question! Not that I know of, but it sure would be nice.

    • Josh Coombs
    • November 30th, 2011

    @Chakravarthi PS

    NexentaStore 3.1.0 supports VAAI for iSCSI and FC connections now based on the release notes.

  4. Wow! That’s really cool. I’ve seen VAAI really speed some things up, it offloads storage work to the SAN, leaving the hypervisors to do something better.

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