NAS4Free under ESXi

One surprising thing I noticed when testing out NAS4Free is the lack of documentation with regards to installation on VMware. I can understand a viewpoint that a NAS is a NAS and not to be anything else, but what about working loads where that kind of raw performance is not required (granted the virtualization overhead these days should be within 5-10% of physical). In any case the below instructions are written with running ESXi 5.1 with NAS4Free, for ease of reading the directions are broken down into three sections.

Initial download and VM configuration

1)      Download the latest x64 release at

2)      Create a new custom Virtual Machine (Assume defaults unless otherwise specified)

a)      Guest Operating System – Other – FreeBSD 64-Bit

b)      Virtual sockets – 3  (you can use less but I was seeing a significant performance hit with less than 3)

c)      Memory: 4GB (not a hard requirement but in general the more the better)

d)     Network

i)        Number of NICs: 2

ii)      NIC 1 Adapter: e1000
(The e1000 will be used for management only as the default NAS4Free install does not correctly load the VMXNet3 driver)

iii)    NIC 2 Adapter: VMXNet3
(The VMXNet3 adapter will be used for Samba/NFS/iSCSI traffic)

e)      SCSI Controller: LSI Logic Parallel

f)       Disk: 4GB, can be thin provisioned

3)      Finish creating the VM

4)      Edit the VM

5)      Add  your additional hard disks and assign them starting at 1:0, 1:1, 1:2 (virtual RDM’s are an option as well). One VMDK per disk unless your really just feature evaluating the setup.

a)      Optionally if supported you could use Direct-Path to pass through your favorite SCSI controller

6)      Change your newly created SCSI Controller to: LSI Logic SAS
(Paravirtual does not function with the version of Vmware tools pre-bundled with the NAS distro)

7)      Select “OK” to complete the modifications


NAS4Free base install

1)      Boot the VM and start it off of the recently downloaded ISO

2)      Walk-through the normal installer screens selecting” Install ‘embedded’ OS on HDD/FLASH/USB”
(Full is extremely buggy at this point and only really used for NAS4Free developers)

3)  Install onto the 4GB volume

4)  After the install completes, reboot and disconnect the ISO volume

5)  Configure your mangement IP


Configuring your new VM

1)      Login to the web administration to the new VM

2)      Select System –> Advanced

3)      Select rc.conf

4)      We need to add some custom tuning for the VM

a)      Add – Name: vmguestd_enable – Value: Yes

b)      Add – Name: vmsetup_enable – Value: Yes

c)      Optionally (useful for debugging sometimes)

i)        Add – Name: dmesg_enable – Value: Yes

5)      Apply changes

6)      System –> Reboot


At this point the VM should be fully useable. If running into performance problems TOP within the VM and the vSphere performance graphs should be where to start looking. VM CPU usage and disk latency are generally the first points of issue.


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