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N54L - ESXI vs Bare Metal Install ?


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I've come to the point to upgrade/replace my old D-Link DNS-32x NAS boxes (I have 3: DNS-323, DNS-321 & DNS-325).

To this end, I've got two HP N54L's headed my way -and am looking to install XPEnology.


In preparation, I have been reading through a number of tutorials -

and have read that we can install either on "bare metal", or install XPEnology within ESXi.

I've setup a few ESXi servers before - so I've got a little bit of exposure on that front.


What I haven't found is a list of pros/cons on why one would want to install one way vs the other.

There is the obvious - on ESXi, one has the ability to run other VM's...

But I bought these to be dedicated NAS boxes - and don't see myself running other VM's on the hardware.

One box will be for my data files, and the other will be the NAS for my video files doubling as Plex Server.


From a power perspective, I've read that running it within ESXi prevents the disks from spinning down.

(That thread also discussed the pros and cons of the thermal shock spin up/down might have on the drive).


Are there other pros/cons that I am overlooking on running either within ESXI or a Bare Metal installion?


If I'm reading correctly - it sounds like the version that I should be looking to install on a new installation at this point is:

DSM 5.0-4528 (It seems as though DSM 5.1 is cutting edge, and folks are experiencing issues...)


Thank you in advance for any guidance or opinions!

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Here is a good list of the pro and cons: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=535


I personally tried ESXi, but switched to Bare-Metal. I think that a big advantage of NASes is redundancy, and the problem about ESXi is that S.M.A.R.T data is not available to DSM. Thus, the hypervisor has to handle disk failure, and I have no clue what happens when a disk fails.

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Decided to go with a bare metal install on the first of my N54L.


Tried to install 4528, but kept getting an error message as it was processing the .pat file.

I was able to install DSM 4493 without any difficulties.


After I had DSM 4493 running, I was able to upgrade to 4528, rebooting and following the "migration" wizard.

From there, DSM 4528 Update 2 was able to be installed (with the help of SSH and the sed commands)


So far - everything looks to be running well.

I've added Plex, and also BitTorrent Sync.


I'm still waiting on some hard drives for my final configuration.


Planning on 3x 3TB drives in the Plex box, and 3x 4TB drives in the household NAS


Still undecided if I want to use SHR or traditional RAID 5.

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I recently was introduced to the phpVirtualBox package for the the N54L too, and its quite handy.


I run my server baremetal, but anything I want to 'try' I now have a 'virtual' N54L DSM in phpVirtualBox that I can test stuff on, take snapshots of, break, restore, fix, experiment, and then when I am happy I know what I have done, THEN I perform it on the bare-metal host.


Not sure if it is what you are looking for or not, but I found it very helpful for determining what was causing me problems when installing certain packages - primarily because of the ease of taking a snapshot before an install, and knowing that by restoring the snapshot you could return the system to EXACTLY how it was before hand, rather than just having to perform an uninstall :smile:

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