2020.04.27 – Install FreeNAS 11.3 on VMware Fusion with iSCSI Disks

Helping photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1B9BaoXdZP8EAfxx6

Download from here: https://www.freenas.org/download/

Informations that helps me to learn and install here: https://www.sysprobs.com/nas-vmware-workstation-iscsi-target

VMware is one of the best and user-friendly virtualization software in the market. Their Fusion can be installed on most of the client Operating Systems to virtualize the physical hardware and install multiple Operating Systems top of it.

Not only the server or client Operating Systems but even we can also install network storage Operating Systems on VMware as a virtual machine. Here I’m going to show how to install FreeNAS on VMware Fusion and configure iSCS disks. This method gives the ideal test lab setup to have NAS as a virtual machine on single computer hardware.

What is NAS (Network Access Storage)?

In the physical environment, NAS is a hardware device with hard drives and it is accessible via the network port. The controller will have its own Operating System to manage the disks and allow the access. Every NAS devices have plenty of features and tools to make it scalable, secure and accessible.

These NAS devices support iSCSI, that can be used to set up VMware vCenter. But for the testing purpose in VMware, we can’t have the expensive physical NAS devices to configure a cluster with high availability in VMware Fusion. So, there is some free open source NAS software available to install on computers or servers to build a NAS system with existing hard disks and partitions. These free storage virtualization software make your computer hard disk as network access storage.

I found that these two famous free NAS software can be installed in the computer and make NAS.

Installing FreeNAS on VMware Fusion is simple and straight forward. But setting up and configuring the iSCSI disks involves several steps. Also, remember that the steps involved in configuring iSCSI disks in FreeNAS as shown below remain the same on any platform.

Install FreeNAS Server on VMware Fusion

1) Download the latest stable version from the official site here. At the moment you can find FreeNAS 11.3-U2.1 as on writing this guide.

NOTE: The current version requires a minimum 8GB of RAM. Since I have enough resources on my MacBook PRO, I could configure a VM with 8GB RAM. If you do not have enough RAM, then you can try with lower capacity. It may impact the performance of VM.

2) Create a virtual machine in VMware Fusion

3) Select Install from disk or image and click Continue

4) If needed click Use an other disk or disk image, find the FreeNAT file and select it. Then press Continue

5) Let Legacy BIOS and click Continue

6) Click Continue Settings

7) Search for Users > murgescusilvia > Virtual Machines. If you want, create a New Folder chose a name like FreeNAS, make sure to chose a name into Save As like FreeNAS, and click Save

8) Continue with FreeNAS Settings

9) Into Processors & Memory

  • Processors: 4
  • Memory: 8GB meaning 8192 MB
  • Keep Advanced options unselected as default

10) Connect CD/DVD Drive is already installed

11) Keep Hard Disk configuration default of 20GB. Remember, this hard disk will be used to install the Operating System only. We can’t use this disk to create storage, disks and LUNs for sharing a purpose. We need to attach another hard disk again to this VM. We will discuss that later.

12) Boot the system with the first option (default)

13) Let it for Autoboot and wait…

14) Select the Install/Upgrade option and press OK

15) On the next screen, select the virtual hard disk to install. You need to choose the hard drive and press spacebar key to make the selection.

16) Press Yes

17) Insert your Password and make sure you will remember it for future use

18) Select the Boot mode as ‘Boot via BIOS’ option to make the things simple

19) Click OK

20) Chose Reboot and click OK

21) Immediately remove the loaded ISO file

At this point, we have successfully installed the latest FreeNAS on VMware Fusion which is running on MacBook PRO.

Let’s see some more settings to make it work.

Network Settings in FreeNAS VM – Vmware Fusion

Once the VM booted, you can see the below screen which gives several options.

By default, the VM network is in NAT mode in VMware Fusion. I’m not going to explain more about VMware Fusion networking.

In the NAT mode, your virtual machines and host will communicate well even though the host and VM IP look different.

If you want you can change the network mode to ‘Bridge Mode’ so the FreeNAS virtual machine will get the same IP scheme of your host computer physical network.

In both cases, we need to configure static IP for FreeNAS storage. That is the ideal way to keep the IP unchanged for your storage device.

22) First I change the network connectivity

23) Before configure the IP for FreeNAS I power-on the application that offer connectivity to internet, pfSense. I don’t know if I need internet for fart configuration of FreeNAS but I make sure it is connected to internet.

24) Configure FreeNAT with a static IP. Press 1 and enter

25) I have used File Name: em1 not em0 as in the follow Photo. I forget to make a photo withered version. All other are the same as shown

Once the IP changes, it will display the web URL on the screen.

26) Open a browser and access the URL. I use Firefox. Login with the root user name and password you set during the installation.

You must land on the FreeNAS management page without any issues.

Add Disk and Configure iSCSI in FreeNAS 11.3 on VMware Fusion

27) Now we are ready to configure the storage system and iSCSI disks. But we do not have any more drives than the OS disk. Hence we need to add another disk. You can add a few disks if you want.

  • -> It is thinking that luckily VMware allows adding the virtual disks to a virtual machine while it is working. SCSI disks can be added. We will see that it is not true for VMware Fusion.
  • -> In VMware Fusion shout down before adding a new Hard Disk
  • -> Power-off FreeNAS
  • -> Add a new Hard Disk. I added another 10GB disk for testing purpose.

28) Power-on FreeNAT and make sure VMware and FreeNAS detected the new disk successfully. It should be listed under the Storage > Disks.

29) Clock Storage > pool. Select ADD


31) Add the new disk Name pool1 to the pool, select da1 and click ->

  • -> da1 is moved right. Click Created
  • -> Click CREATE POOL
  • -> it is successfully created

32) Now start the iSCSI service in FreeNAS. By default, it is off.  Go to ‘Services’, select and switch on the iSCSI service.

33) Go to ‘Sharing’ and select ‘Block (iSCSI)’ to configure more options. Then SAVE

34) Click on ‘Portals’ and add a new one. If it is the first time you are configuring, most probably you need to add a new portal. Click ADD

35) You can comment for your reference. Click on the drop-down and select the IP address of the FreeNAS VM.

36) Now click on ‘Initiators’ tab and add a new one.

37) If you do not want more restriction, as me, then keep both ‘All’. Otherwise, add the client network where you will be accessing the iSCSI storage. I left ‘All’ and applied the settings.

38) Time to add targets. Click on ‘Targets’ and ADD a new one.

39) Give a name related to the type so that you can understand later. Here select the portal you created in the earlier step.

40) We need to create Extents to add the storage. Click on ‘Extends’ and ADD new.

41) Give an appropriate name, and select the type as ‘File’.

  • -> Maybe it can be given any name you chose without .vmdy end but …
  • -> I give the next name from here. It is correct?
  • -> Browse the mount point where you intended to store the iSCSI disk and give a name at the end of the mount point. This method will allow hosting several LUNs in the same disk. Give the size of the extend. When host access this iSCSI target, it will read the disk size what you mention here. It should be less than the mount point size.

42) As the final step, add an ‘Associated Targets’. 

43) Make sure to select the correct names from the drop-down and add LUN ID. It can be any number between 0 to 256 but should be unique. Click SAVE

This is it!

With those steps, we have successfully created an iSCSI disk in FreeNAS which is running on VMware workstation.

Connect and Test the iSCSI Target in FreeNAS from VMware vCenter

This is done into Building a VMware vSphere Virtual Lab with VMware Fusion part 5

Helpful photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1B9BaoXdZP8EAfxx6