Storage Operating System - Alternative to FreeNAS

So, we have a spare Dell Poweredge 730 that we have a few VMs spun up for testing. Other than FreeNAS, what is a good operating system to spin up as just good network storage? I’d rather not run freenas in a VM.

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Linux with Samba work well, but virtualized hard drives never perform as well as bare metal.

Well, I already have a SAN in place. The VMs are on SSDs and I wanted the extra hard drives as a pooled storage for saving files between the VMs.

will the “storage vm” have direct access to the drives?

As it stands, the mechanical drives are on a separate raid controller. I can raid them via the card, or via another system and put them all together. I’d prefer to have them in raid on the card, then have an OS read the card for storage. Like Tom said, I might just put Ubuntu with Samba as a VM to access it.

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If it is a windows network and you already have a windows server running - just add a virtual disk and create a SMB share.

Or create an iSCSI target on your SAN and connect the VM directly to the iSCSI target - will definitely perform better depending on the network supporting this. Windows has iSCSI support baked directly into it.

One thing to consider is vmware has a storage API and a lot of SANS support even the most basic VAAI - which means operations happen at the SAN and not the host, so you get some pretty dumbfounding speeds even over a gigabit link (depending on the operations). So even a virtual disk used for file storage will perform really well on a virtual disk.