In one of my previous posts, I had mentioned how to install FreeBSD on ZFS. I was doing this for my file server, which I ran in this configuration for quite some time. It worked well for a while, but then I decided that FreeBSD was too constraining. This came when I was attempting to setup a process to rip media from DVDs and BluRay disks. I noticed that Handbrake doesn’t run natively, but is available via a port. The port doesn’t contain the GUI though; everything must be done on the command line. Then I looked at the tools necessary to rip from a BluRay disk, most notably MakeMKV. I could not get this tool to run on FreeBSD at all. Lastly, I could not execute any SWT-based java application because there is no native library for SWT in FreeBSD and the linux compatibility layer didn’t cut it.
So, I changed the server to run Ubuntu. I wanted to be able to make the raid drives spin down, so I needed to boot off different drives. I ordered two USB flash drives, set them up in a software raid 1, and installed the OS on it. I considered running root off ZFS, but the ZFS boot in linux is more primitive. I cannot boot off raidz1 nor raidz2, so booting off the existing raid was out, if I wanted to do so. Additionally, the ZFS boot appears to not be able to boot off USB, so that pretty much killed it. Later down the road, I’ll buy a pair of SSD drives for the boot drive. It looks like there it shouldn’t have issue with booting off ZFS, in a mirror configuration.
In some ways I’m said to see FreeBSD go, but I really need more functionality with the machine. FreeBSD is a nice stable server, but it’s so difficult to make it do anything beyond the standard fair. It’s package management and port system is more difficult to use than apt-get. Also, Ubuntu used by more people than FreeBSD, so it’s a more likely target for peoples’ software development. Lastly, SWT based java projects have no problems running on it, like the one I made to stream to my GoogleTV. So, now my server is running Ubuntu going forward.