FreeNAS Storage Setup for the Home VMware Lab

There are a few options out there for the home lab, but over the years I’ve tried many and default to FreeNAS due to its low overhead for resources and fast setup. This walk-though is based on build 8.2.0 and is a step by step process to get your NAS array up and running in any lab. My setup consists of VMware Workstation 9 with FreeNAS 8.2.0, ESXi 5.1 and Windows 2008 R2 64-bit.

1) First start out by obtaining the bits for FreeNAS from – the downloads are located on the right-hand side of the page.

2) Create your virtual machine with VMware Workstation with the following parameters ( you don’t need a 20GB primary disk, but I used one for other functions). I have setup two (private guest only virtual networks) to use for this configuration. VMnet2 is the management network and VMnet9 is the storage network. Also, notice the low overhead of RAM.

3) Next step is to attach the ISO to the VM and boot it. Go through the setup, restart and you will be prompted with this menu on boot:

4) Select Configure Network Interface #1 and setup EM0. As you probably saw in my screenshot of the vm configuration, I have two virtual NIC’s setup. This is because I keep the management and storage traffic separate. So, when you select #1 from this menu, you will see EM0 and Em1.

5) After you configure em0 for management traffic, move on to the configuration of em1 for the actual storage path. I used the for my “storage” network. The next few steps will outline the configuration from the GUI.

6) Log into the appliance from a machine on your network

7) One of the first things I do from here is change the admin password from this location.

8) Since time is critical part of any service, I added my local DC to the list of NTP servers (I’ve also noted the add NTP server dialog box to the right). My internal time service is listed on the left. This is after all a “fenced off” environment (to borrow a term from vCloud).

9) I didn’t use any VLAN’s or static routes but this depicts how the interfaces are used in my FreeNAS environment. I’ve setup labels on the interfaces just to be clear what is used for what.

10) When we added that second disk, we are now able to add it into the volume manager and create a new NFS mount point off it by going into the volume manager and creating the path indicated in the following screenshot. Also note the permissions assigned to the volume.

11) Now that we have the volume and path setup we need to share it out the “storage” path. EM1. Note that you select the allowed network IP (or as I have listed here) range of IP’s that are allowed to get to the share. Remember, EM1 is on VMNET9 which is on a separate virtual network segment that allows for isolated storage traffic in my lab.

12) Double-check to make sure the NFS service is running on your device


You are now ready to start connecting your vSphere ESXi nodes to the storage and setup HA, DRS, FT, etc!




VMworld 2012 Recap

Yet another great event hosted by VMware! This will mark my 6th year to the event and I must say that the event gets better every year. Maybe not from a size perspective, but cetrainly from a community point of view. I can’t even compare it to other IT events that I’ve been to in the past. What really makes this event (for me) is the community involvement. John Troyer and Alex Maier do a superb job of keeping the community going as well as the guys over at vBrownbag and not to mention the countless people on social media (primarily Twitter) that keep it real. The weekly podcasts that John and Alex do as well as those technical sessions on vBrownbag are unlike anything outside of the VMware community!

Decided to get to VMworld a bit early this year since there are so many activities going on Sunday afternoon / evening. I started my Sunday by heading down the Moscone west building where registration and check-in was held at and I must say the process was very smooth. It was about 15 minutes before the hands on labs (HOL) kicked off at 11am, so I jumped in line to be the first group of people in to test out the new bring your own device option (BYOD). Well, there were some technical difficulties and I ended up waiting for a long time only to decide to come back Monday. There were some irate attendees and it was understandable after that length of time. I heard later that evening that they should use Sunday as the beta run of the HOL at VMworld 🙂

The solutions exchange welcome reception was moved to Sunday afternoon / evening and always kicks off with a bang. Spent a few hours there talking with some new vendors that I’ve never seen (or heard of) before. I make a special note to visit the new and emerging companies that VMware always sets aside room for on the floor. I of course made a stop at the VMUG User Group booth and they had a great setup this year. They even had an old school picture booth where you could get your VMUG” Mug Shot” taken. The booth is run by members of the VMUG community including board members and leaders from all over the world.

That evening was the infamous VMunderground party which is vendor sponsored and run by a bunch of guys that you can find on their website. They call the party the Warm up Party as a Service or WuPaas for short. Anyway, this is an awesome event that allows the social community folks to get together and mingle before the event officially kicks off on Monday morning. Tickets for this event are hard to come by and I highly suggest attending it.

The big news was announced at Monday morning’s keynote when Paul Maritz took the stage and gave his final address before handing over the reigns to Pat Gelsinger as the new CEO of VMware. The announcement of the removal of the vRam entitlements from VMware’s pricing model had a very positive feedback of thunderous applause. The new pricing models are now under what is called “Cloud Bundles” and I won’t overload you with the structure – visit VMware’s site to get the latest scoop on licensing. Here is a great whitepaper describing the new model.

I spent the remainder of the day Monday through Wednesday attending breakouts and spending a lot of time on the solutions exchange floor talking to technical folks.

Thursday I reserved for the hands on labs (or HOL for short/twitter). VMware does an excellent job at providing a full working lab for each attendee and the lessons are easy to follow along and gives you a real, practical use case for each one. VMware eats their own dog food – in other words, the equipment is no longer onsite as it has been in the past. These labs are accessed from remote data centers in locations such as Las Vegas and the UK. All delivered via VMware View to the terminals or (something new this year), Bring your own device (BYOD). I didn’t get a chance to do the labs on my laptop, but after talking to a few attendee’s the experience was great.