Categories
Audio Personal Computing

Roon with TrueNAS

Roon and TrueNAS 12 coexist nicely. Here at Dismal Manor, I have a TrueNAS 12.0 server that has two jobs, to serve music and to provide Time Machine storage for MacOS Big Sur. In this episode, I will describe the TrueNAS configuration used here at Dismal Manor. This arrangement is not particularly elegant as I was learning to manage TrueNAS as it was evolving from FreeNAS 9 to the current TrueNAS 12 core.

References

All references were retrieved on Ground Hog day. Well across the date line.

  1. https://www.truenas.com/docs/hub/intro/glossary/
  2. https://www.truenas.com/docs/hub/initial-setup/install/firsttimeinstall/
  3. https://www.truenas.com/docs/hub/sharing/smb/
  4. https://www.truenas.com/docs/hub/tasks/advanced/virtual-machines/
  5. https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/linux-install

Pools, Volumes, and FileSystems

TrueNAS functions in terms of pools, volumes, and filesystems. As I understand it, a pool is a TrueNAS container that combines multiple physical disks in a manner that lets TrueNAS use them as a virtual block device. Within the container, TrueNAS can create a volume which behaves like a block device. The volume can contain one or more file systems. The pool can also contain filesystems. File systems can contain file systems. File systems may be exported as network shared file systems.

Dismal’s primary storage pool

Use a volume when you want to limit the size of the dataset. When you create a volume, you set a maximum size for it. ZFS uses lazy provisioning. It will add blocks to the volume as needed until the size limit is reached.

Most of the time you will create a filesystem or dataset because the object is expected to grow and you want it to have file system sharing semantics.

Sharing in Apple Land

ZFS exports are always at the filesystem node level as identified by a filesystem path. This is in keeping with the original NFS model for which ZFS was designed to provide storage support. TrueNAS, to my knowledge, does not export block devices as a network service.

Dismal Manor is thoroughly modern so our Mac runs Big Sur. Dismal (our server) serves music, photos, and a couple of Time Machine spool volumes. Everything is in the primary ZFS Pool. Within the pool, individual datasets hold media, photos, and Roon Backups. One volume in the pool serves as the block device used by the virtual machine in which Roon runs.

The media dataset is further subdivided by iTunes (ALAC), HD Audio (ALAC and FLAC) purchased music from CD, HD Tracks (ALAC and FLAC) purchased music from HDtracks.com , and Qobuz (mostly FLAC but some ALAC) purchased music. It is only recently that iTunes and iThings tolerated FLAC and I’m not completely convinced that iThings like FLAC. So ALAC is kept separate for transfer to iThings.

The FLAC is kept separate by where it came from. HD Audio is FLAC from records. HD Tracks is media purchased from HD Tracks. Qobuz is media purchased from Qobuz, my current favorite source. The HD Audio is mostly direct purchases from artist websites, usually as media. The commercial services track purchases and allow transfer of media to a revived host in the event of media loss.

The figure below shows our shares. As you can see, the Time Machine spool is now SMB. There is a share for virtual machine installation media, one for Roon backups, and one for iTunes and other media, and one for photos.

Dismal’s configured exports

Photo storage for MacOS

The photos share is somewhat confounded by MacOS design. MacOS replication services expect the Photos AppLibrary to always be accessible (ie mounted at boot or is it login? Its Apple). So iCloud and the iThings do their thing to the thing-owner’s directory structure.

The Sony “real camera” is transferred twice, once into Photos App and a second time into ZFS photos file system. I’m slowly abandoning this practice as it is much easier to find an image in Photos, select it for editing, and pass it off to Luminar AI for editing.

Photos passes the raw file to Luminar. Luminar returns a TIFF with the edits back to Photos. As Firesign Theater was fond of saying, “When you are two places at once, you are no place at all.” It just became too hard to find stuff. Luminar has OK image management but for a hobby photographer, Big Sur Photos is champ.

The Roon Virtual Machine

Dismal runs a Roon virtual machine. In 2017-2018 I’d tried to run Roon on a Mac Mini running MacOS and that same Mac Mini running Ubuntu. Each time Dominion glitched us, I’d have to intervene on the Mac to get Roon up. Roon on the Mini was restarting before the shares came up so the mounts would fail.

Virtual Rocky Roon VM

So, I installed Roon in a VM on Dismal. This works nicely as TrueNAS starts the virtual machines after the file services are ready to go. The TrueNAS design enforces this sequence as hosting storage for zillions of virtual machines running Windows is a major TrueNAS use case. The data-less client rules in cubical land today.

This explains the ISOS dataset shared with Trey, this iMac. We fetch the appropriate installation media, copy it to ISOS, and specify it as the VM installation media. Once the OS is installed (Debian server is a good choice but also Ubuntu), download the Roon installation script and follow the Roon procedures.

Create the VM following the reference. Boot Linux from the ISO image and run the installer in the normal way following the TrueNAS VM creation instructions. Once the VM is ready, open a shell in the VM’s web interface and add the required packages to the distribution. The Roon installation procedure clearly explains the packages needed and lists them in an order that satisfies dependencies.

Once all of the dependencies are aboard, fetch the Roon installation script and run it as described in the Roon instructions. It will set up Roon as a service on the VM.

Roon Storage Organization at Camp Dismal

Then follow the Roon setup instructions to add media, create a place for configuration backups, etc. Once installed, your 2 week trial starts. The figure below shows how we configured our storage

Rocky’s storage configuration

Our music storage is partitioned into separate trees for iTunes media (mostly ALAC, but stuff that may be transferred to an iThing), HD Audio (mostly FLAC), and Q0buz purchases (mostly FLAC). I keep these last two separate so I know what came from where should something need replaced down the road.

Note that Roon Focus will let you select items by format and also by where they came from. Click Focus On to bring up the Focus view. Toward the left, there are buttons to refine the focus. Bring up this view, then slide left to bring up the format inspector. This will let you identify Tidal tracks, Qobuz tracks, etc. You can also view by location in the local library.

Roon Focus dialog showing the Format inspector

Roon can also run things down by location using the Inspector.

Inspector lets you search by storage location

Once you have your search criteria set, you can export as a list for record keeping purposes. This is a useful thing to do occasionally should your library go missing. But ZFS is robust and you are satisfied with your backup. Aren’t you?

Backups

TrueNAS replication is a wonderful thing. Together, Snapshots and Replication let you deal with most file system misfortunes. If you accidentally delete something, it can be retrieved from a prior snapshot. If the local media becomes corrupt, the replication media should have a sound copy.

The purpose of snapshots and replication is two fold.

  • Provide protection against disk failures
  • Provide protection against user mistakes
  • Replication is a convenient way to fill a newly commissioned server

Keep in mind that snapshots and replication may not protect you from the local processor slowly going batty. This is extremely rare. Disk problems are most common, memory problems less common, and processor problems least common. I’ve yet to see one in integrated processors.

Back in the old days, our trusty work CDC 7600 started misplacing files. OS required files would go missing. The divide unit was miss-calculating hashes so the filer was retrieving random data when a disk directory record was expected. The OS (CDC Scope 2) would trap. The techs living inside the 10×10 paneled office quickly tracked down the divide unit as the problem. A fix took a bit longer as the divide unit was several racks of cigarette pack size modules and cabling to troubleshoot.

Here at Dismal Manor we have the following backups in place.

  • Time Machine to a ZFS share.
  • ZFS pool replication to a second ZFS pool inside the server. No fancy raid here but ZFS checksums and checksum verification.
  • BackBlaze backup of the Mac disk to an off-site facility

Note that we don’t treat iCloud storage of photos or data as a backup.

Copy on Write?

Both APFS, the new Apple File System, and ZFS are copy on write file systems. That means that when a file is updated, only the changed blocks are written to disk. The unaltered blocks remain as the were. So both ZFS and APFS permit retrieval of earlier versions of a file as recorded by snapshots. APFS is snap shotting for Time Machine. Time Machine, like ZFS replication, transfers the most recent snapshot to the backup device by writing just the changed blocks. Pretty slick? Yes actually. So Time Machine is writing to the ZFS SMB_TM dataset which is in turn backed up by ZFS replication to a second pool in our server. And just the changes are transferred!

Categories
Audio

Thoughts on Schiit Audio

We sure have a lot of Schiit Audio about Dismal Manor. How did it happen? More importantly, why did it happen? The Schiit Audio product line, especially the headphone amplifiers have a similar sound as co-founders Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat are largely responsible for the sound of a product. Although they like different sorts of music, both have a strong preference for a neutral voice, focused image, and a good bit of depth in their DACS, preamps, headphone amps, and speaker amps.

Jason has written extensively

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/schiit-happened-the-story-of-the-worlds-most-improbable-start-up.701900/

about his odyssey as a practicing audio design engineer, Schiit Audio’s design philosophy and business principles, and about the development of individual products. Schiit began business in the desktop audio space offering DACS and headphone amplifiers. Schiit then expanded into the main system market offering first an integrated amplifier, then preamps and, in 2017 or so, its first speaker amp. In 2019 and 2020 Schiit entered the vinyl space with a Mike Moffatt phono preamp that is wizard and a turntable for the ages.

Categories
Audio

Freya+ A Week Later

Freya+ has been here a week, has shown a movie or two and played quite a few records. This post recounts our experiences to date. Associated equipment are Schiit Modius, Gumby Multibit, and Vidar. Most media was Qobuz or Roon disc library based. I also talk about the new speaker placement I settled on.

Categories
Audio

Freya+ Comes to Camp

Freya’s portrait courtesy of Schiit Audio.

So now, the Dismal HiFi is a whole pile of Schiit with Vidar, Gumby multibit, Modius, and Freya+ in the system. It just sort of happened. Gumby on faith, then Magni and Modi in the study, Modius for TV audio in the lounge, Vidar for muscle when Ampzilla finally got toasty, and then Freya+ because Aunt Nancy Pelosi wanted me to stimulate the California economy. Purchases of Schiit gear help lots of ordinary people in addition to co-founders Jason and Mike.

Anyway, kudos to Jason for design and a terrier’s attention to detail, Mike and Dave and others who helped with design review and critical listening. And kudos to the counter-intelligence who put things together, pack and ship. It is always a pleasure to unpack a Schiit order because you know your it will be picked and packed correctly and the kit will work. Thanks folks.

Categories
Audio Music Technology Video

A Little Raspberry Pi

I’ve been watching to Mandolin.Com live stream shows during the live music quarantine. My old practice was to AirPlay from an iPad to the lounge AppleTV. I got tired of this (WiFi stalls next to the airport) and decided to eliminate the stuff in the middle. Raspberry Pi Foundation came to the rescue.

Categories
Audio

A Maggie Face Plants

When I was purchasing the LRS, I was fearful that bull in china shop Rocky would knock one over causing the diaphragm to rupture. Well, the right one has face panted twice with no ill effects.

Rocky has also baptized the right one twice. The grill cloth proved resistant to staining and cleaned up using a microfiber cloth moistened with Skout’s Honor dog urine cleaner.

After the break, read my observations about placing Maggies.

Categories
Citizenship

Thoughts on the US Electoral College

Thanks go to Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan. Mark graciously grants Creative Commons share and share alike use of his cartograms. The featured image cartogram weights each state by its number of electoral votes and colors it by its 2012 presidential election winner.

In this article, I examine the original design objectives of the Electoral College and the biases in the Electoral College that result from our country currently having a majority of large low population states. I deliberately avoid matters of party beyond the obvious urban-rural party preference.

Reference [2] offers some suggestions for how these faults may be corrected. I may write about Professor Sabato’s proposal in a future article.

Categories
Audio Greyhounds Holiday Letter

Adios, 2020

Ahoy, all. Its been a crazy year. So far, I’ve missed the plague but my list of pre-existing conditions is getting longer. I hope the year finds you healthy and looking forward to a better 2021.

Tleilaxu Eyes

The year started off with cataract surgery. I now have Tleilaxu eyes and Warby Parker readers. It is nice having good distant vision and not needing glasses for most tasks. I have aspheric prosthetic lenses that correct my astigmatism. So fancy lenses and laser surgery Medicare wouldn’t pay for. The interesting bit is that laser incisions heal more quickly and have lower complication rates. Should be the standard of care CMS.

Categories
Eating Recipes

Make a Crumble

Crumble is a British tradition that came over to the colonies with the early settlers. It is a deep dish berry concoction consisting of a filling and a topping that is quick to make, tasty, and somewhat nutritious. This recipe fills a 1.5 liter casserole and takes about 2.5 hours to make without a hound helping.

In theory, this desert (or breakfast served over Chobani Yogurt) can be good for you as it is rich in antioxidants but it also contains 30 ml of sugar and a 30 grams of butter per serving.

Categories
Technology

Phone System Makeover

Dismal Manor remains an OOMA Telo subscriber and a Ting Wireless subscriber but has discontinued Google Voice service. We were running into voicemail configuration issues that caused two of the voice mail services to start talking to each other. Healthcare providers were unable to leave messages. This had to be fixed so Dismal Wizard got out the lopping shears.