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 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.