FreeBSD File Server with ZFS

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Thu Feb 18 08:44:06 UTC 2010

Hash: SHA1

On 18/02/2010 00:11, mailinglist wrote:
> I've got an old P4 desktop computer running in the basement with a 1 
> TB external USB drive connected to that I use as a file server. That
> PC is running XP. It has recently become infected with some sort of
> virus. I'd like to replace it with FreeBSD running ZFS + Samba (I
> need to access it from a OS X machine and a Windows 7 box).

Does your old P4 support 64-bit operation?  Does it have 2GB RAM or
more? If not, then you might want to reconsider using ZFS.  It's not
that it won't or can't be made to work given those limitations, but
you'll find it hard work to get it running stably and performing well.
UFS on the other hand will work just fine on 32bit systems and smaller
and older machines.  (The limitation with UFS is a maximum 2TB
filesystem size, but I suspect this will not cause you any practical

> 1) Will FreeBSD be able to detect and use my TB hard drive as ZFS 
> disk? Right now it is only a single disk, but later on I'll and a
> second disk and setup a mirror. Even as a single disk, the
> checksumming ability would be nice.

Yes.  You can run ZFS from a single drive.  That's not where ZFS's
strengths really lie, but it's worthwhile as a learning exercise
certainly, and the zpool management stuff is cool in any case.

> 2)Assume I get everything setup in regards to step 1 and my OS disk 
> dies. How do I go about importing the ZFS external disk into another 
> FreeBSD installation?

You plug the drive in and then run 'zpool import' with appropriate
flags to tell the system to investigate the new disk and discover any
ZFS related metadata on it.  See zpool(1M) which has a long sequence on
the 'import' sub-command.



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