Install NAS4Free on VMware ESXi Part 1

Just a year ago I wrote an article on how to install NAS4Free in a virtual environment for a home lab purpose. Back at that time I was using Hyper-V Server as an Hypervisor. So far the installation has been serving great for my SQL Failover Cluster Instance. Performance wise I’m glad it served the purpose very well.

To my amazement I have to admit this article has gained a lot of traction. A year later I’m back again for a new installation. I’m in the process of rebuilding my environment so I decided to take a look at the various updates. Things have been changing very quickly during the last year and so my available resources as well!

This time I have decided to install NAS4Free on VMware vSphere Host as this is my platform of choice for my home lab! Moreover the idea of this article is to capture all the steps from installing and configuring NAS4Free including iSCSI volumes for a SQL Failover Cluster. Ideally this is the initial list of topics that will be covered and looking to write even more on the future:

  • Deploy NAS4Free on VMware ESXi (Part 1)

This is the initial part that covers the creation of the NAS4Free virtual machine in VMware ESXi host

This part will cover the “Full installation” of NAS4Free on a local disk including the creation of the System, SWAP and Data partitions

In this article I will cover the steps for the initial configuration from the Shell Console to the very first time logging on the Web Console. This includes network configuration, mounting of SWAP and Data partitions

In this step we’ll review how to create and configure Storage. NAS4Free uses aggregations of disks organised with “Virtual Disks” and “Pools” A quick insight to the key steps before moving to the next part

We are now ready to add and configure storage to present as iSCSI targets to other systems. In this article the creation of the minimal storage requirements to support a SQL Failover Cluster installation

As a final step before moving to the SQL Failover cluster configuration let’s take a look on how to mount the iSCSI volumes to a Windows Cluster

At this point we are ready to start with Part 1!

Deploy NAS4Free on VMware ESXi

At the time of writing I’m using the latest stable version of NAS4Free which is version This can be downloaded from here¬†and I would strongly recommend to take a look at the NAS4Free website for the latest info about their releases and what’s different between versions. For this article we’ll be using the LiveCD to perform a “Full Installation”. What is interesting is that NAS4Free 11.x is based on FreeBSD 11 whereas the latest NAS4Free 10.x is based on FreeBSD 10. As a such the latest versions of NAS4Free are only 64-bits! Something to consider with regards to the initial deployment phase.

Having this in mind and the available ISO at hand the creation of the virtual machine for NAS4Free is very easy and quick

Install NAS4Free VMware ESXi 01

So as per screenshot below let’s give a name to the VM and select the settings as shown

Install NAS4Free VMware ESXi 02

Next is to choose an available Datastore

Install NAS4Free VMware ESXi 03

At this point we can configure the virtual machine settings. For my environment the settings below are sufficient. In terms of RAM memory to allocate and considering storage will be served through iSCSI I’m observing the rule of 1GB of RAM per 1TB of storage. Of course this does not include compression and de-duplication. If you are planning to implement these as well add more RAM Memory. As per the initial disk 20GB is more than enough to store System (~3GB) SWAP (depends on allocated amount) and Data partition where for example temporary or additional packages can be stored. Also in order to maximise the VM performance I would also remove all the unnecessary devices that will not be used. In this case I removed the USB device

Install NAS4Free VMware ESXi 04

As per usual we get to final step offering a summary view before committing the configuration

Install NAS4Free VMware ESXi 05

Once we reviewed and accepted the NAS4Free virtual machine configuration we are now ready to power on the VM and proceed with the installation of the OS as shown in the next article.

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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