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What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Show off your HTPC builds, NAS Servers, and any other hardware. Great place to ask for hardware help too.
Manni
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Manni » Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:09 pm

Hi Jamie,

As I said, my unraid server is out of service as I've sent my Adaptec controller back and am still waiting for my LSI controllers, so I can't check much. I don't think the VM can start if the array doesn't start, as the VM is still on the array (I haven't moved it to the cache SSD yet). I did manage to create two virtual and dynamic disks (one system, one data) with no apparent issues.

I'm also back to work this week, so I have a lot less time to play with these toys, and I'm afraid I have no experience with video surveillance.

We might want to stick to CMC related questions in this Unraid thread so as not to put an unduly burden on Paul, who has been incredibly helpful in getting us started with Unraid and is giving hints that we might have reached the limit of his generous support.

Going forward, I'll follow his suggestion and will post generic Unraid support questions in the relevant Unraid forum, and I might come back to this thread if I have CMC specific Unraid-related questions.

Jamie
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Jamie » Sun Jan 09, 2022 1:57 pm

Manni wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:09 pm
Hi Jamie,

We might want to stick to CMC related questions in this Unraid thread so as not to put an unduly burden on Paul, who has been incredibly helpful in getting us started with Unraid and is giving hints that we might have reached the limit of his generous support.
Hi Manni,

Paul prompted me to create this unraid thread for general unraid discussion. He has converted many people to use unraid and I thought he was happy to provide a way for all of us to share our knowledge. There are many places in this forum where we have created threads to encourage people to share their thoughts on non CMC issues.


Paul. Has this changed?

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Pauven
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Pauven » Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:21 pm

Jamie wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 1:57 pm
Paul. Has this changed?
No changes! :D I've just been real busy. You have reached the limits of my knowledge in a few areas, but not my willingness to help.

Manni wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:09 pm
Going forward, I'll follow his suggestion and will post generic Unraid support questions in the relevant Unraid forum
Not trying to dissuade any conversation here. Simply trying to make sure you get the help you need for topics beyond my knowledge. There are thousands of helpful Unraid users that hang out on the Unraid forums (plus, Lime Tech themselves). You only get me here, which makes for a poor substitute.

Manni wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:09 pm
I don't think the VM can start if the array doesn't start, as the VM is still on the array
I believe this is correct. Starting the array also starts up lots of sub-services, including the Docker and VM images. You don't need a big complex array, but you do need one to start up before you get VM capabilities.


Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
1. Does unraid have a default VNC or do I have to install one?
There's on built-in, and you access it via the Unraid GUI/web page. On a fresh install, it can be a bit trickier to use, as you have to be quick to see the BIOS screen so you can tell it to use your install media. Hit Start, them immediately launch the VNC session and respond to the prompt to use install media.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
2. The videos say you should only make your vdisk 70 GB at the most. I want to have a 2 tb of space for my VM. I need room for my surveillance as well as other software. What is your recommendation? how much space do you recommend for the vdisk? Is the vdisk like the c: drive or is it like a dedicated windows OS partition?
Personally, I think you can make VM's any size you want, but most of mine are around 50-100 GB depending upon needs. What you DON'T want to do is to make it really big and store your media inside of it. Instead you want to create a network share on your array to write the media to. You can simply access the share from inside the VM, or pass it through as if it was a local disk/directory. Much of this capability is built into the VM/Docker setup. For example, I use a Shinobi_Pro Docker to do my video surveillance recording, and in the Docker config I set the "video storage location" to "/mnt/disks/cctv/", which is the path to my Unassigned Devices drive share. Even if the Docker (or VM) goes belly up, my video is safe outside of them.

For my MyMovies VM, I gave it 75G. That provides enough space to install Windows updates, My Movies updates, the My Movies DB itself, and a few My Movies DB backups. That size feels about right.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
3. The videos and documentation recommend you use an IDE bus for the OS Install CDRom Bus and the VirtIO Driver CDRom Bus. I was wondering whether it should be sata instead?
It's all virtual, so don't get hung up on the technologies thinking it will make a performance difference. Follow the recommendations, because it is what works.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
4. Also where do you get the windows 10 pro iso download? I used the windows 10 creation tool to create the iso. Is this the right thing to do?
Yep, that's what I've done. Once you have the ISO, just put it out in the ISO folder on your Unraid server, then configure it to mount inside the VM. Then launch the VNC session immediately after starting the VM, and press the key to start from your disc media.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
5. Can I restart the vm from the vm tab now and will the install continue, or should I remove the VM and start over with the vm creation? What is the best way to remove the VM? Just the vm or the disks too? I think in my case i should do both.
Not sure why you'd want to start over, unless you aren't happy with your configuration. I believe you can delete from the VM manager if needed/wanted. Based upon your questions, I'm thinking you have a virtual machine with nothing installed yet, so not much need to delete and try again, almost nothing to delete, unless you've changed your mind on the disk sizes.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
6. Can I create the VM remotely or should I go to my machine and use the monitor there at least for the install? If I could remotely create a windows VM with my laptop it would help me a lot. I have to stand at my unraid machine and I have a bad back.
Definitely remotely using VNC, much easier than trying to do hardware passthrough to use a physical monitor. Remember, you are creating a Virtual Machine - it doesn't really exist - so to use physical items (keyboards/mice/monitors/etc.) with a VM you have to pass them through to the VM, which is extra config. The easiest way is to just access it via VNC during initial software install, then enable RDP and access via RDP from that point on.

Jamie wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:55 pm
7. Also, My monitor is not the best? It is a VESA monitor, so should I be using QXL for the vnc video driver? I am using integrated graphics too. I think this is why my vm won't start right now because I am using a VESA monitor and QXL. I could probably swap it out for a LCD monitor and try that monitor instead. I think I will swap them out, But I would like to know your viewpoint on when to use QXL, or Cirrus?
Again, you are confusing physical with virtual. This PC doesn't actually exist. Your choice of fake hardware (QXL vs. Cirrus vs. whatever) is only for the benefit of Windows or Linux or whatever OS you install. Different OS's prefer different hardware out of the box, so you are choosing what virtual hardware that is presented to Windows. Windows will think you have a QXL video device, even though there is no physical equivalent of this.

Since I've already worked through these choices, here's my config for your reference. Note, after installing Windows and drivers, I remove the OS Install ISO and VirtIO Drivers ISO, since these are no longer needed. This is the equivalent of ejecting a physical DVD. I could have left them configured, but that just makes them visible inside the VM as inserted discs which I no longer need, so that's why they aren't configured in my screenshot below.

image.png
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Jamie
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Jamie » Sun Jan 09, 2022 6:43 pm

Thanks for your replies, Paul.

I think you have now sent me in the right direction. I know you are busy with other jobs not related to CMC and also you want to get CMC 5 out the door. I am patient and willing to wait days, or even weeks for a response.

I also know that I can and should investigate things on the unraid forum too. Being an unraid and linux noob, sometimes I do not know where to start but I do use Google to get me started. SpaceInvader on Youtube is helpful but he goes very fast and sometimes it is tough to see his screenshots. I do use pause very often.

Let me know if and when you want to complete beta testing and I'll do my best to help you. Thanks again and have a good day.

Jamie
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Jamie » Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:59 am

Okay, I am up and running on windows 10 Pro. I've got my drivers installed and windows activated. I did find a way to get into the VM install using my web Browser. In this case Chrome.

1. I typed "tower/login" in the url and entered my login credentials for my unraid server. I have been doing this for a while now.

2. I setup my vm as described by the spaceinvader youtube video for windows 10 part 1



3. After I clicked the the create button, vnc again did not come up. I started the vm by clicking the windows icon for my vm. A menu popped up and I clicked start. I then clicked the icon again and clicked vnc remote. It should be the top menu item. This brought me to an efi shell. I then entered the following commands at the shell prompt and I was booted into the windows 10 installer.

fs0:
cd efi
cd boot
bootx64.efi

4. After entering the shell boot command an icon popped up for a number of seconds and then the windows install window came up. I then followed the video and finished the install.

I still find that I get confused over what machine hardware I am using but I just did what the video suggested. This is different from other vms that I have used such as vmware and virtual box. For them, I used the hardware for the host machine. Thanks Paul for setting me straight.

I can now get in my windows 10 vm through the method given at the top for VNC, or remote desktop. I am at home now.

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Pauven
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Pauven » Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:02 pm

I find SpaceInvader One's videos helpful myself. I really should do a video series for CMC someday. In the video you linked, you only need to complete Stage 1, stopping before installing the sound card. You won't need sound, or any passthrough hardware.

I know he recommends Splashtop, no idea why. RDP is built into Windows, you just need to enable it on the VM inside Windows, then it is very seamless to connect from your local desktop. VNC has mouse registration issues with the pointer lagging, RDP feels like you're on local hardware. I like to set the VM's resolution in RDP to my local display's full resolution, and run at fullscreen. I also go ahead and store my username/password in my RDP connection, so I just open the session and I'm right in.

I'm glad you figured out the VNC connection, but I think you had to jump over extra hurdles, not sure why. I've never done those extra steps. VNC only launches if you open it, not from creating a VM or starting it - I would love a "Start + Open VNC" option to do it all at the same time.

Now that you've activated Windows, you need to resist changing the VM's hardware config, or else you may lose your activation. You can do certain things like changing the # of processors or amount of RAM, but if you change the "Machine" or "BIOS" assignments, you are likely to break activation as Windows will see this as a new machine. I typically wait several weeks, while I get everything running the way I want, before activating, in case I need to blow it away and start over.

You can easily make a backup of your VM by copying the VM's directory in your domains share. I would do this before installing My Movies, in case you run into trouble. Then again after, in case you run into trouble. You know, 'cause My Movies...

At this point, just treat this VM as if it was a real physical Win10 machine, just in a different building so you always have to remote into it.
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Jamie
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Jamie » Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:23 pm

Pauven wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:02 pm

I know he recommends Splashtop, no idea why. RDP is built into Windows, you just need to enable it on the VM inside Windows, then it is very seamless to connect from your local desktop.
Yes, I use MS remote desktop too. It's there. It works. I know how it works. Why fuss with something else?
Pauven wrote:
Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:02 pm

You can easily make a backup of your VM by copying the VM's directory in your domains share. I would do this before installing My Movies, in case you run into trouble. Then again after, in case you run into trouble. You know, 'cause My Movies...
Do you stop the VM before copying the img file and folder?

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Pauven
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Pauven » Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:40 pm

Jamie wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:23 pm
Do you stop the VM before copying the img file and folder?
I do, but I don't know if that's a requirement. I would assume if the files are in use you might be blocked from copying, but that should provide feedback if that's the case. No harm in trying.
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Manni
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Manni » Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am

Just a quick update:

1) I received and installed my LSI 9201-16i. Not sure it's an original, but it seems to be working fine and at £200 it's a good deal.
2) Unlike the Adaptec, no losing of settings, no warning beeps and sleep works perfectly (all unused discs go to sleep).
3) All the disks in the array were recognised, though they were all greyed out initially. The driver letters were different but the disks were in the correct order. I was able to start the array fine.
4) I did a check first, it all went fine in about 10 hours. All the data was accessible (at least the files I spot checked).
5) The array is NOT usable to play a film during a check, which is a bummer. It's a stutter fest. You can pause the check, but still, that's annoying compared to a proper NAS.
6) Performance is similar network wise (around 115MB/s). EDIT: Local speed seems to be similar (around 150MB/s read).
7) I then wanted to do a pre-clear of the two parity disks before using them (I know I don't have to but given that I had issues with the Adaptec card I wanted to test this before enabling parity). I started both pre-clear for the two disks, it went okay for a few minutes, then I lost access to the Tower.
8) The Tower was OFF. I switched it back on, and on startup one of the pre-clear went on from where it stopped (8% pre-read), the other disk is not even listed anymore. I hope it's not the dreaded LSI bug! EDIT: I noticed that the parity disk was only missing in the main tab. In the dashboard, it wasn't. So I refreshed the unassigned disks in the main tab and the two disks were there. Weird.
9) I'm going to let that pre-clear end (I have set it to email every 25%, using Joe's script) then I'll see if I can get the second parity disk detected. EDIT: The pre-clear quickly shut down the server again. I'll try using the default script to see if it makes a difference.
10) Not sure what's happening with pre-clear on that system. Maybe there is a compatibility issue with the mobo? It's not the disks, all my disks are pre-checked with WD diags, I had similar issues when pre-clearing two of the four WD Red 4TB disks I pre-cleared with the Adaptec, and the two yesterday were two 4TB Hitachis. EDIT: Using the default script seems to have fixed it (12% on pre-read and going). Maybe Joe's script isn't compatible with 6.9.2? EDIT2: I'm wondering if the issue could be related to the S3 sleep plugin. It was enabled, but the unassigned drives were not included. Maybe the server simply went to sleep because the pre-clear on the unassigned drives was not detected as activity? Maybe it worked with the default script because the VM was running, which causes activity on one of the array disk as I haven't set the cache disk yet? I'll do more tests and will report back, but all working fine with default script.
11) I also received my 9305-24i (also not sure it's an original, but at £360 it's a good deal) and I'm going to test it in my other PC Case with the other MB (i5 2500K with 16GB RAM) as my ordered 24-bay server case (https://www.servercase.co.uk/shop/serve ... s-sc-4824/) won't get here before the end of February.
12) For some reason the autofan plugin started playing up with the new controller, setting all fans to zero RPM! Glad I was monitoring temps... I uninstalled the plugin.
Last edited by Manni on Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Pauven
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Re: What is Unraid and how to build an Unraid media server

Post by Pauven » Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:47 pm

Manni wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am
3) All the disks in the array were recognised, though they were all greyed out initially. The driver letters were different but the disks were in the correct order. I was able to start the array fine.
Back when I was a new Unraid user, I used to be concerned about drive letters and trying to link them to specific ports/bays/slots. Years later, I now realize that for the most part, don't worry about drive letters. They can and will change. What matters are the drive ID's.

Manni wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am
5) The array is NOT usable to play a film during a check, which is a bummer. It's a stutter fest. You can pause the check, but still, that's annoying compared to a proper NAS.
There are tunables that can affect this.

A long-long-long time ago, I wrote a tool to check different tunable parameter values through an algorithm, and determine which values worked best on your particular hardware. I think it was on 6.6 or 6.7 that Lime-Tech completely changed the tunables, breaking my tool, and in 6.8 they supposedly auto-adjust so everyone gets good performance. While I personally get good results, I don't buy into the auto-adjusted works for everyone fan-fiction.

Since I run the defaults these days, I haven't had a reason to learn what the current tunable parameters do or how best to set them, but I know they exist. You may want search for this info on the Unraid forum. It's a common enough complaint that playback stutters during a parity check that you should be able to find some assistance.

For me, I just make sure that my parity checks run on schedule at 2am once a month, and they are normally done by the time I want to watch anything in the evening - but that's mainly because I want the parity check to complete faster without drive access competition, not so much that I experience stuttering.

Manni wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am
12) For some reason the autofan plugin started playing up with the new controller, setting all fans to zero RPM! Glad I was monitoring temps... I uninstalled the plugin.
I think I had mentioned something about this before. I find it flaky too. Typically my problem is the opposite, they speed up and get loud even when cooling is not needed. There are a lot of configuration items related to this, so it's probably possible to get it safely working if you take the extra time to tweak everything. You should be able to configure it so that the fans don't ever stop spinning, only get slower and quieter when cooling needs are low, so worse case you still have some airflow.

But if you are happy with the results without it, then you're probably better off without it.

Manni wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am
10) Not sure what's happening with pre-clear on that system. Maybe there is a compatibility issue with the mobo? It's not the disks, all my disks are pre-checked with WD diags, I had similar issues when pre-clearing two of the four WD Red 4TB disks I pre-cleared with the Adaptec, and the two yesterday were two 4TB Hitachis. EDIT: Using the default script seems to have fixed it (12% on pre-read and going). Maybe Joe's script isn't compatible with 6.9.2? EDIT2: I'm wondering if the issue could be related to the S3 sleep plugin. It was enabled, but the unassigned drives were not included. Maybe the server simply went to sleep because the pre-clear on the unassigned drives was not detected as activity? Maybe it worked with the default script because the VM was running, which causes activity on one of the array disk as I haven't set the cache disk yet? I'll do more tests and will report back, but all working fine with default script.
I think it's possible that you might be incorrectly assigning a cause to the effect. Yes, you're running a pre-clear when the server has issues, but the chances that the pre-clear itself is causing these issues is very slim.

I mentioned earlier that I don't S3, and there are known issues around S3 with Unraid. There's a good chance, like you theorized, that allowing the server to sleep is the root of the issues.

But you also wrote:
Manni wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:45 am
8) The Tower was OFF.
Which is unclear from my vantage point. Is the server crashing? Shutting down? Going to sleep? I don't know what OFF means in this context.

There have been occurrences in the past of servers crashing when idle or mostly idle, and running a VM often alleviates these symptoms. I experienced this myself when I was one of the very first users running Unraid on Ryzen, and I did a ton of troubleshooting for the community. One of the things I discovered, at least on Ryzen, is that by disabling "Global C-State Control" in the BIOS, these stability issues went away. These issues are harder to troubleshoot, because they atypically only cause issues when the PC is doing nothing, and the harder you use the hardware, the more stable it becomes. Interestingly, I read a similar article last week talking about how Global C-State Control really should be disabled on desktops (and presumably servers), as it requires tight integration of all components, and really is only suitable for laptops/tablets. So if you are experiencing random crashes, this would be my first trouble-shooting step.

It's also possible that the issue is heat related - PC's can shut themselves down if they exceed configured thermal limits, and perhaps you have a component (i.e. CPU) that is getting too hot, and causing a shutdown for protection. Maybe running the pre-clear was causing some CPU usage & heat.

But if by OFF you mean asleep, then definitely disable the S3 sleep capability for now. Get stable first, then try to add capabilities one-by-one, monitoring for issues.
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