Dec 30

Mission Goal

So whats this all about… I’ve been running a homeserver for a few years now, using different kinds of linux distro’s. The server usually more or less built from leftovers of previous workstations. The old system also includes 2x 3slot SATA harddisk enclosures, connected to a promise raid controller. The system was a 2.6Ghz core2duo with 4GB memory and 2x 250GB system drives. The system was storing all our data, videos, photos via Samba/Netatalk and took backups (bacula) of my various servers on the net. It was also running a nagios monitoring installation. Everything was encrypted with the usual linux LUKS stuff.

PC V2120

So why a new system?

  • Energy consumption too high. As you may know, energy isn’t as cheap anymore. With the recent changes in Germany and some not so clever decisions made by our fearless leaders, the prices for energy skyrocketed and the pressure to built intelligent less power consuming systems keeps on growing. While i totally agree on shutting down nuclear power plants, i don’t like the way how renewable energy is subsidized and how big energy companies profit by putting the burden on the customer. Actually i think, core infrastructure such as energy, water, public transport etc. should be handled by the government or non-profit organizations, rather than companies.
  • Next generation filesystem. Everyone’s generating lots of data these days. Documents, Scans, Photos and Videos of your family, your music etc. Maybe you already convinced your family to create backups, do this extra step and bought them a time capsule or similar. You have a raid in your homeserver and you are aware of the fact, harddrives wear out over time..  Now considering, you store your digital life for centuries and do everything right, keep replacing disks and so on.. collecting terrabytes of data over the years.. you won’t even notice if any of your data is damaged until it is too late. Here comes ZFS to the rescue, by taking care of the integrity of your files. By generating checksums for all your files and keeping multiple copies of it. It will detect broken files and replace them automatically with the working copy. A nice side effect for ZFS, it includes also compression and deduplication. On Solaris it even includes an encryption layer.



  1. Data integrity. The ZFS Filesystem is said to require 1GB memory per TB stored, especially if you want to use deduplication, since this feature will hold big hashtables in memory. Afaik, only the Oracle Solaris 11 supports the builtin ZFS encryption layer. But Solaris is a commercial system, requiring you to have some support contract if you use it in production. While this isn’t necessarily a problem for a homeserver, the supported hardware list for solaris is very short. So i will try to stick with FreeBSD and take the performance hit it comes with by using GELI encryption below the ZFS layer. Since i will be using SSD drives for the main OS, i try to get some performance back by adding some SSD caching to the ZFS. I would also love to use ECC memory.
  2. diskspace should be at least 6-8TB usable space, with room for additional drives
  3. As for energy, i am trying to get the most performance at the lowest energy. Performance is required for encryption, compression, occasional realtime transcoding. Depending on how it works out, everything should spin down or step down if it is idle.
  4. Remote Access
  5. Low Noise

Hardware so far…

  • Intel Server Board S1200BTLR – Sockel1155, SandyBridge, 2xGbit, 2x SATA3, 4x SATA2, onboard GFX, up to 4x8GB ECC DDR3 Memory, IPMI 2.0 ~200EUR
  • Intel Xeon E3-1265LV2 – TDP 45W, QuadCore 2.5Ghz, IvyBridge, AES-NI, HT, Turbo Boost, VT flags ~300EUR (wikipedia)
  • Adaptec 7805 – 8x Port SAS/SATA Raid Controller, lowprofile, 1GB cache, support for FreeBSD, support for drives with 4TB size, up to 256 drives using expander. ~500EUR
  • cheaper “dumb” controller LSI SAS 9207-8i for ~200EUR even got Solaris Support.. and FreeBSD.
  • Lian Li PC V2120 – beautiful, low noise chassis with plenty of room for more disks ~400EUR
  • Western Digital Red Harddrive – 3TB SATA3, low 24dB Noise, 24/7 support, Low power: 4,4W read/write, <1W sleep/standby power consumption ~140EUR


  • Update: I found a mainboard with USB3 and ECC. Have a look at Supermicro X9SAE.
  • Update: Order is out to 3 different stores. I took the Supermicro X9SAE-V which allows two x8 PCIe3.0 instead of a single x16 PCIe3.0 .. considering i may need more disks some day and a 2nd LSI SAS 9207-8i Controller. Rest as expected, 3x 3TB WD red drives, Xeon E3-1265LV2 but a slight change for the chassis, its a Lian Li PC-P80N now, since its just standing in some dark corner anyway, so no need to look beautiful.. but not getting my hands bloody on the installation and having 10 3,5″ harddrive slots as well as 2 2,5″ slots for 2 ssd drives, is nice. I will be using two Sandisk G25-G3 Extreme SSD 2,5″ 120GB for the system itself and as cache for the ZFS. The reason for the sandisk was it is pretty fast Sata3(6Gbit), 550MB read/510MB write, a good MTBF of 2.500.000 hours and as expected a low 0,6W read/write energy consumption. For the operating system, i will see how a solaris 11.1 installation will work out. If it fails to support anything or does not fully use powersaving features, i may still consider FreeBSD on the 2nd run 🙂
  • Latest Update: No free updates, no solaris.


This post will be updated as they come in.

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