From Debian to FreeBSD (2/?)

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As stated previously, I’m building a new home server and switching the OS at the same time. The background and links to all posts can be found here.

New hardware and basic setup

The new machine sports a nifty Intel i5-3750, 8GiB of RAM, and came with a 240GB SSD installed. I added a 4TB HDD for storage and system redundancy. Why only one? Because the second disk is still spinning in he old server. Yes, I’m tempting Murphy by running 2 machines with only half a mirror each. Yet another reason why I should finish this sooner than later.

Knowing that SSDs usually use 4K sectors, even when reporting 512 byte, and since this isn’t a bad idea anyways, I wanted to make sure that the alignment matched. What is a bad idea tough is trying to outsmart the installer, which led to 5 installation attempts up to now, with a short Grml session in between to create a layout.


  1. Installed, checked the layout, didn’t seem aligned
  2. Started the install, went to the shell to create gnop overlays with 4K sectors, which were promptly removed
  3. Installed so I could get the settings and layout used for a default install so on attempt
  4. I booted into Grml, created the partition layout, started the install while creating the ZFS layout manually. Forgot to set bootfs on the Pool, and to install the bootloader
  5. Said „Fsck it“ because it’s 2:00am, did a default install, checked the numbers from gpart again, and noticed that they are 4K aligned. And ZFS is forced into a 4K alignment, too, so all good.

This is what happens when you try to be clever as a newbie.

One thing I’d liked to have done was to use part of the SSD for L2ARC1, but the read load on that machine won’t be that high or repetetive enough to give this any kind of priority. Same goes for ZIL2, with the added issue of there being only one SSD.

Next up will be some basic setup, including base services that won’t be jailed, like DNS and time synchronization.

  1. L2ARC is a read cache between the spinning rust disks and RAM, usually on fast disks like SSDs.

  2. ZIL is like L2ARC, only for writing. Inncoming data gets sent to a fast disk, and is flushed every 5 seconds. If this disk fails there’s data loss.