FreeBSD is the ideal system to use when building a server. It’s reliable and rock-solid and it’s file system ZFS not only offers anything you would expect from a file system but is also easy to set up and to maintain. This is why I chose it to power my NAS. In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series I already described my intentions and the hardware assembly. Now it’s time to bring it to life.
I decided to use the netinstall image of FreeBSD 10.3 amd64 on a memstick. From OS X I unmounted the memory stick and wrote the image file to the disk (please be sure to change the device to the one matching your memory stick):
sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2 sudo dd if=freebsd-memstick.iso of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=8m sudo sync sudo diskutil eject /dev/disk2
I also chose to disconnect all hard disks except for the system disk to eliminate the risk of accidentally installing it onto the wrong device.
2. Trusted boot / UEFI setup
When I first attached the memstick and booted the system, I got the following error:
The motherboard I bought uses trusted boot to ensure that I don’t use a bootloader that is corrupted by checking it’s code signature. But as the FreeBSD bootloader is not listed, this won’t work. So I first had to disable the “secure boot” option in the UEFI BIOS by changing “Windows UEFI mode” to “Other OS”.
Additionally, in the advanced setup menu I enabled the “PCIe power” setting to enable Wake-on-LAN for the internal network adapter to allow the system to be booted remotely, which is essential if you don’t have a IPMI module :-)
3. OS installation
The FreeBSD installation itself is straight forward. All components are supported and there’s no need to load additional drivers or to do any sysadmin voodoo to get it working. In the bootloader menu I chose “UEFI boot”, as this is supported since 10.3 so I thought it’s time to give it a try.
To keep the system footprint as minimal as possible, I did not install any additional components like docs or kernel sources. And because I use prebuilt binary packages rather than the ports collection (at least on the host), I didn’t install the ports snapshot either.
I gave the system static IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and chose “Guided Root-on-ZFS” for the disk setup. As there’s currently only one system disk without redundancy I used ZFS striping (later on we’ll attach a mirror disk and convert the single-disk pool to a mirror) and called the pool “system” which is essential as I want to create another pool for data storage later on. At this point I chose to not use encryption for system disk as I can do this on a per-jail basis later on.
When it came to the system startup configuration I enabled sshd, powerd and ntpd. Then reboot and - viola: working system!
3.2. Post installation
After I successfully logged in via SSH, I installed
vim-lite and my dotfiles.
For better security I also disabled
ChallengeResponseAuthentification (aka password auth) and set up my public key to
be allowed to connect. I also enabled
ntpdate for automatic time synchronization:
As I want to use WOL to boot my system, I already prepared for the struggle I know from setting this up on linux. But
in FreeBSD you don’t need to do anything as long as WOL is support/enabled in your BIOS and your network device supports
responding to Magic Packets which is indicated by
WOL_MAGIC in the
options line on
ifconfig re0 re0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500 options=8209b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_MTU,VLAN_HWTAGGING,VLAN_HWCSUM,WOL_MAGIC,LINKSTATE> ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx inet 10.0.0.20 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 10.0.0.255 [...] nd6 options=23<PERFORMNUD,ACCEPT_RTADV,AUTO_LINKLOCAL> media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>) status: active
Now I can just run the following command from my local machine (
brew install wakonlan required) where
is the MAC address of the NAS and
10.0.0.255 matches the broadcast address of the network that both machines reside in:
sudo wakeonlan -i 10.0.0.255 xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx
3.4. Automatic shutdown
Additional to WOL for boot, I want the system to shut down automatically at night to save energy. So I set up a cronjob for the root user, that powers off the system at 3:01 AM:
SHELL=/bin/sh PATH=/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/local/bin HOME=/root 1 3 * * * /sbin/shutdown -p now
4. Periodic status mails
FreeBSD sends daily, weekly and monthly status reports of the system including information about vulnerable packages
and storage pool health. As I don’t want to run a mail server on the NAS I installed
ssmtp and configured it to
use a SMTP account on my mailserver to deliver the status mails. I already described how to do this a few weeks ago
in the post FreeBSD: Send mails over an external SMTP server.
Afterwards I created the file
/etc/periodic.conf by copying the example file:
cp /etc/defaults/periodic.conf /etc/periodic.conf
and enabled the option
daily_status_zfs_enable to get daily status on ZFS. Also, by default daily mails are send
at 3:01 AM but at this time my NAS won’t be running. So I decided to change it to 10:00 PM by editing
change the line containing
periodic daily to something like that:
1 22 * * * root periodic daily
periodic daily manually ensured that was working properly.
5. S.M.A.R.T. setup
To keep track of disk health I decided to install
smartmontools which can also be integrated with
So after running
pkg install smartmontools sysrc smartd_enable=YES
I added the line
daily_status_smart_devices="/dev/ada0 /dev/ada1 /dev/ada2"
/etc/periodic.conf to include it in the status mails.
periodic daily again resulted in the following text:
Checking health of /dev/ada0: OK
Checking health of /dev/ada1: OK
Checking health of /dev/ada2: OK
6. Storage pool setup
Now that the base system setup was completed, I set out to create another ZFS pool for data storage. This would incorporate the WD Red drive (I only got one for the beginning, but I will buy another one to set up a mirror) and the Corsair SSD for L2ARC cache.
L2ARC cache explanation from http://www.brendangregg.com/blog/2008-07-22/zfs-l2arc.html :
The “ARC” is the ZFS main memory cache (in DRAM), which can be accessed with sub microsecond latency. An ARC read miss would normally read from disk, at millisecond latency (especially random reads). The L2ARC sits in-between, extending the main memory cache using fast storage devices - such as flash memory based SSDs (solid state disks).
First I had to find out which disk is attached to which port and which port refers to which disk label.
lists all disks with their name and device name (
shows all attached labels:
<Corsair Force LS SSD S9FM02.6> at scbus0 target 0 lun 0 (ada0,pass0) <WDC WD30EFRX-68EUZN0 82.00A82> at scbus1 target 0 lun 0 (ada1,pass1) <WDC WD5000BPVT-00HXZT3 01.01A01> at scbus2 target 0 lun 0 (ada2,pass2)
Name Status Components diskid/DISK-16088024000104781294 N/A ada0 diskid/DISK-WD-WXH1E93PJW64 N/A ada2 diskid/DISK-73APPCH8T N/A ada3
In my case
ada1 had no disk label listed so I just used the device name - if you do that, it’s better to pick the label
in case you change your SATA wiring:
zpool create data /dev/ada1
Then I added the SSD cache drive, in my case
zpool add data cache /dev/diskid/DISK-16088024000104781294
zpool status indicated, that everything worked correctly:
pool: data state: ONLINE scan: none requested config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM data ONLINE 0 0 0 ada1 ONLINE 0 0 0 cache diskid/DISK-16088024000104781294 ONLINE 0 0 0 errors: No known data errors
I decided to jail all my services separately to ensure upgradability and a clean system setup. In my post
FreeBSD jails with a single public IP address I already
described how to set up FreeBSD jails with
In this case I chose to use a pseudo-bridge (host having a separate “public” LAN-visible IPv4 address for each jail).
So I didn’t have to set up
pf at all, I just added this lines to
re0 is the network adapter):
ifconfig_re0_alias0="inet 10.0.0.21 netmask 255.255.255.0" ifconfig_re0_alias1="inet 10.0.0.22 netmask 255.255.255.0" ifconfig_re0_alias2="inet 10.0.0.23 netmask 255.255.255.0" ifconfig_re0_alias3="inet 10.0.0.24 netmask 255.255.255.0" ifconfig_re0_alias4="inet 10.0.0.25 netmask 255.255.255.0"
and restarted the network using
service netif restart.
ezjail installation worked as described in my blog post
mentioned above. Right after installing ezjail and before running
ezjail-admin install, I edited the ezjail’s main
/usr/local/etc/ezjail.conf to enable ZFS usage. As I wanted to have all jails on the
added the following:
ezjail_use_zfs="YES" ezjail_use_zfs_for_jails="YES" ezjail_jail_zfs="data/ezjail"
ezjail-admin install I got an error saying “Network is unreachable” but after restarting everything
worked smoothly. Running
zfs list shows that ezjail created ZFS datasets for all resources:
NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT data 536G 2.11T 96K /data data/ezjail 536G 2.11T 124K /usr/jails data/ezjail/basejail 435M 2.11T 435M /usr/jails/basejail data/ezjail/newjail 6.00M 2.11T 6.00M /usr/jails/newjail [...]
To get the name resolution working from within the jails, I also copied over my resolv config to the template for new jails:
cp /etc/resolv.conf /usr/jails/newjail/etc/
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