Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD


  • Service Provider

    There are many good options for an OS to install on a SAM-SD. But some are more common than others. There are many factors, from performance to scale to experience to connection technologies that determine which OSes and which additional software will make sense in any specific scenario and this can change over time as well. But as a starting point here are the primary operating systems that should be considered in very roughly the order in which they should be considered.

    • Linux Family [Very Well Suited to Storage in General]
      • OpenSuse: enterprise, free Linux distro with a heavy focus on storage and clustering technologies.
      • Fedora, CentOS: enterprise, free Linux distros with heavy focus on core technology and stability.
      • Ubuntu: enterprise, free Linux distro with high change rate.
    • Windows
    • Solaris Family
      • Solaris
      • OpenIndiana and derivatives.
    • BSD Family
      • FreeBSD
      • Dragonfly

  • Service Provider

    Why Linux? Linux is extremely well suited to general purpose storage tasks. It's subsystems are very performant for storage and it has a plethora of core storage options available for it that make it extremely flexible allowing it to address a large range of needs. Unlike most operating systems, Linux does not have one or two core filesystems but many. The most important ones include EXT4, XFS, BtrFS, JFS2 and recently ZFS has been added as well (but not in core distributions.) Linux can also support NTFS when needed.

    Linux has enterprise class software RAID called MD RAID that provides RAID 0, 1, 6 and 10 options and is the most common base OS used in NAS and SAN devices. MD RAID is very enterprise class and can be used in nearly any scenario.

    Linux has excellent hardware support including support for all enterprise hardware RAID devices.

    Linux has a very powerful and optional logical volume manager called LVM that provides an important abstraction layer that includes the ability to do filesystem snapshots.

    Linux has high performance and highly reliable NFS and iSCSI stacks, has an adequate SMB stack and be extended with less common file system options such as AFS, AFP, Apple Mac Metadata, ATAoE and more. The most flexibility of any platform.

    Linux can also challenge the storage norms with options like Gluster and CEPH making it uniquely powerful for storage.

    Linux has a powerful storage layer network mirroring technology that rivals anything in the business called DRBD which allows Linux to be used to build traditional high availability storage clusters without the need for external or third party storage replication techologies at the block level. Linux also has natively the powerful RSYNC file sync technology for file level syncronization between systems.

    At the application layer Linux has Pacemaker providing full fault tolerance for the block or file serving layer allowing complete high availability storage clusters to be built using no external products whatsoever.

    Linux also shines with the broadest community, industry and OEM support options.


  • Service Provider

    Why Windows? Windows is often not thought of as a core storage platform but it potentially as a lot to offer someone if looking for the right set of technologies. Windows falls short on performance and reliability for NFS and iSCSI stacks making it a poor choice for a general performance platform but is the best platform available for SMB protocol support where it is native. Windows can be extended with third party tools such as Starwind's iSCSI initiator to make it a viable enterprise block / SAN platform as well.

    Windows has the best SMB and NTFS features on the market and the latest features before anyone else. Active Directory integration is available from all platforms but is easiest on Windows.

    Windows has excellent support for hardware, including hardware RAID. A caveat on Windows is that the OS level software RAID is considered poor and should be avoided. It is the only enterprise server OS at this time without an adequate software RAID system.

    Of interesting is Windows Storage Spaces and Windows Storage Spaces Direct which are currently too early to judge based on long term reliability but represent a huge investment by Microsoft in the future of Windows as a storage platform and may represent a strong set of features in the future.

    Windows is, along with Solaris, the most expensive option on this list. Rather unique in being non-free. But with the excellent features that it provides for the right scenario it can easily be the best choice, especially if your needs are for SMB 3 support.



  • That's interesting - I wonder if MS would ever consider making a storage version of Windows that would be free? I know they had a paid version in the past.


  • Service Provider

    @Dashrender said:

    That's interesting - I wonder if MS would ever consider making a storage version of Windows that would be free? I know they had a paid version in the past.

    Someday, perhaps. I would not expect this anytime soon.


  • Service Provider

    Why Solaris? Solaris is one of the most powerful, stable and performant storage operating systems available and is the native platform for the highly respected ZFS filesystem, as well as having access to the extremely mature and speedy UFS2 filesystem. Solaris is not available for free but when purchased comes with enterprise Oracle support and the version of ZFS, which is no longer open source, that comes with Solaris is the most featureful and up to date version on the market.

    Solaris is unique in not only being a great choice for commodity AMD64 architecture systems but also being available for Sparc-based platforms which would be a rather niche choice for a storage solution but certainly an option for a larger, very scalable solution.

    Solaris is a good choice when the ultimate in performance, stability, support and ZFS features are needed. When using Solaris it is generally assumed that ZFS-based software RAID will be used.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    A caveat on Windows is that the OS level software RAID is considered poor and should be avoided. It is the only
    enterprise server OS at this time without an adequate software RAID system.

    Anyone ever hear of them actually moving to fix this? Is it just that anyone with enough machines to warrant "serious" software RAID already runs some other OS? I'd love to get a box setup and not have to pay though the nose for a good RAID card.



  • Good timing on this (I might create a separate topic on this) we are contemplating buying HP StoreVirtual (lefthand) vs rolling out own zfs based solution.

    The goal is for large, moderate performing, VMware storage for our development environments. I personally have deployed over 100TiB on FreeNAS but concerned about introducing that into our business.


  • Service Provider

    Why OpenIndiana and other OpenSolaris Derivatives? The OpenIndiana family is descended from early work on Solaris 11 when it was still available open source. If you are looking for the performance profile of the Solaris family, generally out of a desire for ZFS support, and are okay with an older version of ZFS and the lack of Oracle support, the OpenIndiana family can be good. With the availability of ZFS broadly on Linux the need for this kind of solution has become rather niche and as there is much broader availability of experience on FreeBSD with the same release of ZFS people tend to shy away from OpenIndiana, although it can work very well.


  • Service Provider

    Why FreeBSD? FreeBSD brings up the rear in our list of storage operating systems. FreeBSD is not particularly well suited to storage tasks and will generally fall behind Linux and Solaris families in terms of performance. FreeBSD is generally chosen for native ZFS support in cases where BSD experience exists and Solaris experience does not while not trusting the installation methods for ZFS on Linux. This makes it a very niche choice. Sadly the use of FreeBSD is rampant in storage circles because of its use as a base for the creation of some NAS OS products like FreeNAS and NAS4Free that have made people assume that it is a good choice for this task when, instead, it is normally chosen for licensing reasons for distributors.


  • Service Provider

    @MattSpeller said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    A caveat on Windows is that the OS level software RAID is considered poor and should be avoided. It is the only
    enterprise server OS at this time without an adequate software RAID system.

    Anyone ever hear of them actually moving to fix this? Is it just that anyone with enough machines to warrant "serious" software RAID already runs some other OS? I'd love to get a box setup and not have to pay though the nose for a good RAID card.

    In theory, Storage Spaces will be a software RAID replacement on Windows, but it will take time to determine if this is true and how well this works. Microsoft has little reason to do software RAID as the abundance of hardware RAID for people running Windows makes this unnecessary and decades of training the Windows market that software RAID is a bad idea would make them look pretty silly at this point. Plus hardware vendors would be crushed if their market suddenly dried up.

    The reality is is that it is more a cultural thing than a technical one that drives hardware RAID in the Windows ecosystem.


  • Service Provider

    @MattSpeller said:

    I'd love to get a box setup and not have to pay though the nose for a good RAID card.

    Just don't use Windows or run Windows on top of Xen or KVM so you get Linux MD RAID with a Windows OS.


  • Service Provider

    @donaldlandru said:

    Good timing on this (I might create a separate topic on this) we are contemplating buying HP StoreVirtual (lefthand) vs rolling out own zfs based solution.

    Start a thread, plenty to discuss there.


  • Service Provider

    Added Fedora as it often makes more sense than CentOS today.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD:

    Why Windows?
    Windows is, along with Solaris, the most expensive option on this list. Rather unique in being non-free. But with the excellent features that it provides for the right scenario it can easily be the best choice, especially if your needs are for SMB 3 support.

    which feature set/role is required for a windows NAS? this is what comes with hyper-v server 2016 (which is free). also you can now put starwind free on it and get a free non supported OS/application.
    [never used just asking out of curiosity]
    0_1492790023587_hvfeatureset.jpg


  • Service Provider

    @matteo-nunziati said in Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD:

    @scottalanmiller said in Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD:

    Why Windows?
    Windows is, along with Solaris, the most expensive option on this list. Rather unique in being non-free. But with the excellent features that it provides for the right scenario it can easily be the best choice, especially if your needs are for SMB 3 support.

    which feature set/role is required for a windows NAS? this is what comes with hyper-v server 2016 (which is free). also you can now put starwind free on it and get a free non supported OS/application.
    [never used just asking out of curiosity]
    0_1492790023587_hvfeatureset.jpg

    Yeah, but it isn't licensed for that. What "comes with" Hyper-V is way more than what your licensed to use. There is certainly a little bit of grey area there, but using Hyper-V as a SAN platform is widely accepted as not an option by the EULA. Hyper-V is allowed only to be used for the purpose of hosting VMs on top of itself and the software necessary to do that, which does not include providing storage to other hosts. There IS some question around this use case, it's not 100% cut and dry, but it is 90% on the side of you can't do that.



  • @scottalanmiller GOSH! the feature list is so small compared to a full windows that I was sure that was only the licensed stuff!


  • Service Provider

    @matteo-nunziati said in Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD:

    @scottalanmiller GOSH! the feature list is so small compared to a full windows that I was sure that was only the licensed stuff!

    LOL, no. It's supposed to be minuscule because it is just a hypervisor. You can install and run nearly anything on there, which would pretty much make Windows pointless if Hyper-V was actually allowed to be used for anything.


  • Service Provider

    But it needs some amount of stuff because you are allowed to, for example, install Veeam on there.



  • what a mess...


  • Service Provider

    @matteo-nunziati said in Open Storage Operating Systems for SAM-SD:

    what a mess...

    Windows desktops are loaded with software that you are only limited as to how you can use it by EULA as well.



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