Installing FreeNAS 8 on VMware vSphere (ESXi)

FreeNAS is an Open Source Storage Platform and version 8 benefits not only from a complete rewrite – it also boats a new web interface and support for the ZFS filesystem. It is also worth mentioning that FreeNAS supports Advanced Format drives (something that my Windows Home Server does not).

The features of ZFS are many but it is the data integrity and large capacity support that caught my attention when I first started to ponder alternatives to Windows Home Server (WHS).

The other ZFS contender that has piqued my interest is Nexenta whose community edition has an 18TB limit (although you can run the Nexenta Core version with a community developed GUI without any storage limit). One key difference to be aware of (and these will be moving goalposts) are the versions of ZFS that both of these projects are running. At the moment, for example, it looks like FreeNAS does not support de-duplication of data while Nexenta does.

FreeNAS is designed to be run from a flash drive which is nice in that all of your hard drives can be dedicated to storage. A 1GB drive is recommended as the minimum requirement and this can hold several FreeNAS images – so you can roll back to a previous installation if you experience troubles during an upgrade for example. I will be installing FreeNAS to a 1GB virtual hard disk instead.

I have yet to decide between FreeNAS and Nexenta yet – but for today wanted to get the ball rolling installing FreeNAS 8 in VMware vSphere 4.x.

First download the FreeNAS 8 .iso and copy it to your vSphere datastore.

Create a new virtual machine and specify the following Guest Operating System properties – Other and FreeBSD (64-bit).

I configured 4Gb of RAM with the default LSI Logic Parallel SCSI controller with a 1GB vitrual hard disk.

Finally point the virtual CD-ROM of the virtual machine to the uploaded FreeNAS .iso and boot the virtual machine:

Press 1 to begin installation:

Press Enter to install to default device:

Press Enter again to install to the VMware virtual disk:

Press Enter again to confirm installation to hard drive (installation to USB is the preferred method for FreeNAS but this is not practical on ESXi):

Wait for FreeNAS to copy the image to the virtual drive:

Reboot the virtual machine:

As you can see there are various options for configuring FreeNAS when it boots. For now I will take a quick look at the Web interface.

Open Firefox and browse to the IP address of your FreeNAS installation (as detailed in the previous screenshot).

Use admin for the Username and freenas for the password.

Welcome to the FreeNAS interface!

As you can see there are plenty of options available to configure FreeNAS and (now that installation is complete) that will be the topic of a later blog-post.


Ubuntu – Installing gThumb Image Viewer

Some time ago I installed Viewnior as a fast and light-weight image viewer. In this role it worked well but I missed the extra functionality that I was used to from using Irfanview on Windows.

gThumb is an image viewer and browser that includes an importer tool for transferring photos from cameras. Installation is very simple – open the Terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gthumb

As you can see gThumb can perform some basic image editing, including the ability to crop images:

gThumb also includes a thumbnail viewer and can even find duplicate images – the full list of features is here.

To get my .jpg images to open with gThumb I simply found a .jpg file and right clicked on it and selected Properties. Then I clicked on the Open With tab and selected gThumb Image Viewer from the list.

gThumb looks like a great Irfanview alternative!

Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid – Viewnior, A Fast and Lightweight Image Viewer

The default image viewer in Ubuntu is a little slow for my liking but I quickly found a faster alternative in Viewnior. In Lucid just enter the following in the terminal to install it:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xsisqox/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install viewnior

Once it is installed just right click on an image, select Open With from the menu and then select Viewnior as the default application.

Alternatively you can open Viewnior by clicking Applications, Graphics and Viewnior.

Viewnior is a great alternative to Irfanview which I have installed on my Windows box.

Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid – Using Phatch to Batch Rename Photos Using EXIF Data

Up until now I have been renaming photos from my digital camera on Windows 7 with a great little application called NameExif. With a handful of clicks I could add the date and time to all my photos from their EXIF data.

In Ubuntu I found that Phatch was a suitable equivalent (although it will do a lot more than just rename files if you want it to).

Phatch is installed as follows:

sudo apt-get install phatch

To run Phatch click Applications, Graphics and then Phatch.

To create a new profile in Phatch I clicked the add button and then selected the Rename preset. Then I just selected the year-month-day-hour-minute-second preset from the File Name drop down menu. Then I simply added <filename> at the end to get the exact configuration that I wanted and saved the profile for future use.