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Author Topic: Installing pfSense on Raid0  (Read 391 times)

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Offline Inxsible

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Installing pfSense on Raid0
« on: September 10, 2017, 04:52:24 pm »
I recently got my hands on a 1U Supermicro server that has a LSI MegaRAID 9260-4i card installed with a forward breakout cable connecting a TQ backplane.

I plan on using this server for pfSense. Unfortunately, the raid card doesn't support pass-through mode and I have to create a RAID0 of 1 disk (I know that's stupid) and only then is the disk visible to the OS. I have put in an old 80GB HDD in there and created a RAID0 and then completed the pfSense install.

My question is : Will this setup cause any issues?

If yes, then I might just use a sata cable to connect 1 drive directly to the motherboard and get rid of the LSI card and the breakout cable. The only reason I did it as RAID0 was because the card was already installed and it seems kinda difficult to pull the cables from the backplane

Thanks for your replies.

Offline pete

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 06:03:45 pm »
Here DIY built a NAS4Free 8 drive NAS box with an LSi 8 port raid card and utilize one SSD card connected to the motherboard for an OS drive. 

Just a guess here and suggestion to remove the LSi 4 port card and just utilize a new small SSD drive connected to the Supermicro server motherboard.  You can purchase a 32 Gb SSD card today for cheap these days.

Offline Inxsible

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2017, 07:01:14 pm »
Here DIY built a NAS4Free 8 drive NAS box with an LSi 8 port raid card and utilize one SSD card connected to the motherboard for an OS drive. 

Just a guess here and suggestion to remove the LSi 4 port card and just utilize a new small SSD drive connected to the Supermicro server motherboard.  You can purchase a 32 Gb SSD card today for cheap these days.
True, but I have no use for the 80GB drive that I had lying around. It came out of an old desktop which now sports a 1TB drive and 80 GB is not much to be used as an external drive, so I thought it would best be served in the pfSense router.

Also the server I have is a 1U server with space for 4 HDD drives in the caddies. I have put in only 1 drive (the 80GB) and left the other 3 caddies empty because I really don't need that much disk space for pfSense. Putting in an SSD in one of those caddies might require a lot of jury-rigging with adapters and such. I don't want to do all that especially when down the line I plan on getting rid of the 1U case and put the motherboard in a 3 or 4U case to use as a NAS. At that time I might use my other server board for pfSense

Offline Inxsible

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 10:20:48 pm »
I have since gone ahead and installed pfSense on the machine. I chose the Quick and Easy install. However in the UI and in the shell, it shows me that the drive size is 41GB, whereas in the RAID0 configuration, the drive size is 74GB.

Why is the entire space not shown?

Offline Gertjan

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 12:56:03 am »
The installer uses - or let you chose - from what ever partition is present on the disk.
Remember, it's just a firewall, no fancy partition tools are built in. Use a native OS like FreeBSD, or more appropriate tools too what your partition table looks like.

Offline Inxsible

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 10:17:13 am »
So would I have to create the partitions on the drive using Linux or FreeBSD first before installing pfSense?

This drive came out of my desktop and had Archlinux installed on it in LVM. But there was no 41GB partition in there at all. I had a 100MB boot partition and the rest was part of LVM --20 for root, 4 for home and the rest (50GB) for data. Don't know why and how it chose a 41GB partition to become the root of pfSense.

The LSI card created a VD of 74GB, so I assumed it would have overwritten the partition table too. Oh well, I can always try a reinstall.

Offline Inxsible

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 11:48:46 pm »
It was actually because FreeBSD creates a swap partition which is 2xRAM size. So I had 32GB of swap and 41GB of /.

I have since re-installed and this time went with the 'Custom Install' option and gave 8GB to swap and the rest to /. Now when I log into the web configurator, I see 64GB of / and 8GB of swap correctly.


on to configuration of everything I want to do with pfSense. :)

Offline Gertjan

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2017, 12:48:26 am »
Wait !

So, when choosing the automatic installl (hides all the technical details) it decides to make a 40+ Gb swap ? On a 32 Gb RAM system ....
For info : on my 3 Gb system it never uses the swap.

Btw : on a device like a firewall I would have opted for a raid 1 .... Knowing that you use 'old' drives ;)

Offline Inxsible

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Re: Installing pfSense on Raid0
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2017, 10:08:55 am »
Wait !

So, when choosing the automatic installl (hides all the technical details) it decides to make a 40+ Gb swap ? On a 32 Gb RAM system ....
For info : on my 3 Gb system it never uses the swap.
Yes, the installer makes the swap equal to 2xRAM. I have 16GB ECC RAM in that machine, so it made a 32GB swap. Someone should change that installer to ignore 2xRAM if the machine has enough for three reasons:
  • It's a very old formula for deciding the size of the swap, when machines tended to have very little RAM. I am talking MBs not GBs
  • For a machine that has enough RAM, swap isn't used much especially for a machine which is up 24/7 which pfSense would be.
  • swap may be used in desktop OSes for hibernate etc, but for an appliance like pfSense, it's not used as much as indicated by many users here.

Btw : on a device like a firewall I would have opted for a raid 1 .... Knowing that you use 'old' drives ;)
That would require me to have 2 drives. The only other 3.5" drive I have is a 500GB that I keep as emergency replacement for my FreeNAS box in case a drive fails. Also, wasting a 500GB drive for pfSense seems like a waste to me, especially since even 80GB would be more than sufficient for what I need it to do.