My Media-Server – revamped

By | 7. August 2017

Hi there.

After my „remote Plex Server“ project was shut down by the banning of rclone, I thought I could just write a few things about my new local media server I build a few weeks ago.

Up to this point, all my media- and downloadservices ran on an quite old HP ProLiant N54L microserver with Ubuntu 14.04 LTE and a ZFS RAIDZ1. Despite being old, slow and quite noisy in the end, it generally worked pretty well.

But, to be honest, it was my first real linux „project“ and was designed and configured by „trial and error“ and it became a more and more messy installation after some time. Lots of unnecessary  packages, broken repositories and configurations and so on. Once after an update the ZFS configuration broke the mount options so that I rebooted to an „no zfs pools available“ messages. If you are not really „fluid“ with ZFS on Linux, that really gives you an Adrenaline rush, I can assure you. After this shock I decided to got the „never touch a running system“ approach and stopped updating and rebooting the system.

Beginning of the year I found myself in the „ZFS storage“ trap, as my pool was filling up to the 95% mark and I had no viable option to expand/resize the ZFS pool. As ZFS is pretty robust, production ready and designed for enterprise environments, it is impossible to just „upgrade“ a pool. In order to get more storage, I would have to replace all 4 HDDs with bigger ones, one at a time, with a complete rebuild (which means time and possibility of failure) after each swap, or I had to attach an E-SATA enclosure and add a second RAIDZ to the existing pool. Wasn’t really an option.

So I decided to get rid of my ProLiant and ZFS, make use of my better linux skills I developed in the last years, and rebuild my mediacenter from scratch.

First things first: The Hardware

Case: I quite some research and I pretty much fell in love with the Node 804 from Fractal Design. I considered a few „NAS like“ cases but none of them really looked convincing. The Node is pretty compact (and fits in our cabinet like a glove) but has enough room for up to 12 HDDs with two 4Bay HDD cages easily accessible in a separate compartment of the case.

Mainboard: A tricky one. I really would have liked to take a „full on server“ approach and had a look at some SuperMicro and AsRock AsRack mainboards with 10+ SATA slots, IPMI and such. But I just didn’t have the budget. Same thing with „integrated“ option to get a SoC. In addition to being quite pricey, I stumbled across the „Atom C2000“ bug wich already has had an impact to NAS systems, Cisco Routers and so on. So I didn’t want to take this risk and settled with a „consumer“ grade mainboard, the AsRock H270 Pro4. It has an M2 Slot for the system SSD, 6 SATA ports (meh), a pretty solid bios fan management (yay) and supports Kaby Lake processors „out of the box“.

CPU: Kaby Lake Pentium G4560. Biggest Bang for the Buck. Initially I wanted to get the G4560T version with a lower TDP but a: it wasn’t available for order, b: it costs 20€ more than the „non-T“ version and c: the server usually just sits there idling so it wouldn’t have such an impact anyway.

The rest like PSU, Cooling, RAM etc is more or less from the shelf.

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