FreeNAS, Virtual Host or Virtual Client?

So I have this home server/network project that I have been working on for a while now and I've finally sorted out the pfsense router and I'm about to move on to the server.

I am planning on making the server a multi-purpose machine including the following functions; NAS, Web Host, Steam Box, HTPC and a game server.

I'm at a crossroads at the moment as to whether I should go with FreeNAS ( or another free storage solution) as the main OS on the server with virtual box, and all the other VMs running as clients on that. Or running a linux server OS, probably CentOS, as the virtual host and having FreeNAS/other NAS OS running as a VM on the Linux host.

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge to recommend either way?

Any help would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance.

My philosophy is that the NAS goes on its own hardware. Freenas especially really needs direct access to the disks.

You could just use Linux for the whole thing. KVM for your virtualization and zfsonlinux for storage.

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That does sound like the recommended solution from what I've been able to find.

My idea was that maybe I just have all the drives in a 1 to 1 mirroring config and thus then run the NAS OS on that but I guess if I'm doing that then I might as well use linux as the main storage solution.

I'm somewhat new to doing things open source, so I wasn't really aware that linux had a storage solution that would be as robust as having an operating system based on the concept. Although also FreeNAS probably isn't as strong on the virtualization side of things I guess :P

Wendell switched to Fedora

If you are going to use ZFS file system for your NAS storage, it is really important with ECC RAM. Otherwise it would mess up your data or even break the ZFS pool. (which makes it unmountable, and all data is lost)


Yeah I've got all ECC RAM for my build. It was actually a really good deal on the Server considering it was brand new with a Xeon processor.

It's a dell T20 and after rebate it was only about £200 which is now about $250 atm.

Had to buy 16 GB extra RAM and some proper storage but I think I got reliability to price just about right for a home build.

ZFS was definitely the plan btw after watching the bit rot video Wendell made :)

fedora server is intriguing but I am still a bit too nooby to go into a non-console environment just yet. This is part of the reason for this project though as I am using it too learn more about linux and other opensource platforms in general.

I might use the fedora server as a virtualized test lab to learn on, but stick with centOS as the base OS as it will be a bit more familiar.

I ran freenas on a VM for a while fine. Everyone everywhere I see says that it is a bad idea and freenas relies on really accessing the drives not being told by a hyperviser or VM what the drive do.

I tend to think that make sense and the server on freenas and virtualize the other stuff. Steam box and HTPC might be tricky. Kodi is good and plex.

I would make the NAS box and get an nvidia shield for the TV stuff...HDMI2.0 and remote all setup. Can run kodi on it as a app. Does 4K.

Yeah, i was just pointing out the need for ECC RAM with ZFS. Good thing you already had a server with ECC. But damn, thats a good price for the server!

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