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.
William Reading - Apr 1, 2012
I essentially have my FreeBSD box as a NAS only for this reason. It just doesn’t have the same kind of support as stuff that is built for linux does.
Micklo - Jul 18, 2012
I use VirtualBox and run Linux virtualized ontop Solaris. So I have Solaris running native ZFS, and use virtualized Linux for front end applications. It works very well. You could try to run VirtualBox ontop FreeBSD?
Graham Booker - Jul 18, 2012
Solaris is even worse when it comes to a usable system. I’ve used Solaris in the past and I will never use it again. I tried running VirtualBox, but anyone who does will know that going beyond the basics is not trivial. I explicitly mentioned ripping DVDs/BDs, and this was unworkable with VirtualBox. Besides, if I do everything inside VirtualBox, I’m essentially wasting RAM through the fact that some is for the host and some is for the VM. It’s just better to run Ubuntu and be done with it.