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!




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