My aspirations to build a Solaris fileserver have finally been realised and I now have 2TB of networked storage sitting beneath my desk as I type this. Now that the server is built and working, I figured it was time to share my experiences with the world.
Put simply, I wanted a fileserver to host all of my music, movies and other files in a central location that was networked with the rest of my house. Not only did I want to store my files, but I wanted around 2TB of actual storage so that it would last me a while, as well as some sort of protection against an inevitable drive failure. Unless you want to run some sort of backup software, which I don’t, then RAID is generally how you protect against drive failures. So RAID it was.
After some research, I decided that a dedicated box with RAID was definitely going to meet my needs the best. I also decided that RAID 1 (a simple mirror) was inefficient as it sacrifices too much drive space. As cheap as storage is these days, I’m still a poor uni student. So, something like RAID 5 is what I wanted. Once this was decided, it was time to look at filesystems. It didn’t take long to see that Sun’s ZFS with raidz was probably the way to go. This made the choice of operating system simple, as ZFS means Solaris unless you want to run your filesystem in userspace. To be honest, I’m not sure how much this would impact performance, but a chance to get acquainted with a new OS was too good to pass up, so Solaris it was.