My first foray into using FreeBSD as a server.

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For quite a while now, I've been running a Debian stable install on the local home server in my home. It was primarily used as a storage server where I can offload my stuff and configs on so that I'm not worried about losing my configs whenever I jump a distro to test things out. Furthermore, that server has also served some neater and more esoteric stuff aside from the usual storage stuff. At one point, with a help of a VLAN switch, I have used that box to power a game server and recently I've been running a voice server on it. All of those were run under Debian stable.

However for the past few months, I have been having trouble with updating the system. Now, this has nothing to do with Debian stable and is completely my fault. I've run an LVM pool between two 500GB drives in the system and it seemed that one of those drives failed. Because with how that was set-up some parts of the LVM suddenly became inaccessible to me and as a result I can't update the system. It was working at the time and because I was initially quite busy and lately lazy, I just left the issue there. But last night, I have been thinking about fixing that server since it wouldn't be long before I would start getting back to work. My line of thinking goes: "If there's one thing that I would have at least done for my stupidly long break it would be fixing this server." and I did. I woke up pretty early today and started cracking on the server install.

Initially, I have had trouble with letting the system detect my install USB. This is something that suddenly caught me off-guard because it was the same exact install stick that I used to install 5 instances of FreeBSD from. After a bit of fumbling around the BIOS settings I figured that my boot order priority was just not putting the USB stick up in front so the hard drives are just being picked first. With that out the way, I just powered on through the guided install of FreeBSD; which I would say is really pleasant. Coming from bare bones to even non-existent install disks having just a dialog menu to guide you along the way is a breeze. Of course, I am fully aware that "I wouldn't learn about my system more because I'm using an installer." But hey, I've installed both Arch and Gentoo before so I have at the very least a faint idea of how the install process works. (By the way, in my opinion the Gentoo install was miles better than the Arch one, it's much more verbose and much more approachable. It's not just a set of commands that you're going to run. It's a series of steps that make sense in a computer user way, if that made sense.)

Regardless, I have had one more trouble with installing FreeBSD and though personally I should have taken that as a sign of stuff to come. I basically arranged the server to be a mirror between two 500GB drives. These are the same two 500GB drives that I was running on the Debian stable install, by the way. Selecting the ZFS install and selecting the two drives for a mirrored installed returned an I/O error. At the time, I thought maybe the drive isn't really dead because it's still being detected by the BIOS earlier so I powered the computer off and changes the SATA cables in the system. Ran the install again and, lo and behold, the other drive was detected. So I went in with the install using those two on a mirrored arrangement and checking the zpool status returned that it's just fine.

Later that day, I was transferring all of my stuff back into the server when I checked the zpool status again and it returned that the pool was in a degraded state. I thought to myself: "Yeah, this is probably it. That drive's really dead." But now, I'm quite glad that it happened in a ZFS configuration because now the system is still running albeit in a degraded state and I have time to replace my disk and still not suffer from any data loss. That which is quite pleasant coming from a quite chaotic Debian install.

I have been dabbling on a lot of FreeBSD stuff lately and largely due to the handbook, I was able to do a lot of stuff immediately. I was able to set up a samba share, which is a sort-of bridge that allows Windows to detect the FreeBSD (or GNU/Linux) server on the network and be able to transfer files onto it, easily because there's good documentation about it and tells quite clearly how to set it up for multiple windows users that may be using the server to back files up.

So yeah, I'm really quite pleased with how stuff went with my new FreeBSD server and I have never thought that doing the stuff that I did earlier today would be as easy as I did it.

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