Recommendation on OS/ Software Design

Hey gang,

After lots of internet research , including a lot of study of this infamous post ([Known-Good Hardware Master List] Hardware Capable of Running StartOS), I decided I wanted to do a custom server build instead of an off-the-shelf or barebones setup. My goal for the server was for it to be expandable, powerful enough to handle all that Start9 has to offer, and be power efficient (especially when idle). I haven’t built a PC in about 15 years, so it took me a while to learn & understand all the current hardware lingo, but I’m hoping it ends up meeting my goals somewhat.

Here’s the full build:
MB: GIGABYTE C246M-WU4 (rev. 1.0)
CPU: Intel Core i3-9100
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i
RAM: 1 x 32GB Kingston ECC UDIMM KTL-TS432E/32G
PSU: CORSAIR RM650x (2021) CP-9020198-NA
M.2: Team Group MP34 M.2 2280 4TB PCIe 3.0 x4 with NVMe 1.3
Case: Fractal Design Core 1100, Black

I ended up with the above MB because it has (8) SATAs, (2) M.2 NVMes, Dual Channel ECC RAM (max 128 GB) and supported the 9th Gen Intel Core Processors (I knew many folks liked the I3-9100 due to ECC support and being decently powerful, yet efficient). The only down side to the CPU is that it can only use 64 GB of RAM max, which I’m hoping is all I’d ever need (going to start with 32 GB and see how that goes). So from an expandability standpoint, I have a lot of room to grow in most capacities, which is great. I haven’t installed an OS yet, so haven’t been able to test the power efficiency. Hopefully I have success when trying to install StartOS

My plan for StartOS is to start small. First, I’d like to get a Bitcoin node up and running. Then I’d like to start experimenting with self hosting some services (probably start with Vaultwarden), and eventually I’d like for one of those services to replace Google Drive (via File Browser or NextCloud?). Which my thoughts would be to set up a NAS system with some redundancy (hence the 8 SATA ports). It seems like Unraid and TrueNAS Scale where front runners for a modern NAS. Read a lot of great things about using ZFS with TrueNAS. Whatever the solution, I would like to be able to add storage drives, or upgrade them to larger capacity as my needs increase.

Ok, so finally to my question (sorry for the long background, but I thought it might be pertinent)!

With the above in mind, I’m trying to determine what is the best software stack to setup on my new device. Should I install something like TrueNAS baremetal and then virtualize StartOS on top of that? I saw in another post that once the VM is setup for StartOS, it can’t be changed without reinstalling StartOS. Not ideal for sure. If you noticed in my hardware list, I only have a 4 TB NVMe drive right now. My thought was to get SartOS installed and start self hosting services, but then hopefully be able to add storage as needed. I was actually starting to install TrueNAS Scale, but learned that the boot drive takes up the entire drive so would basically render the 4 TB useless. Also, I had read in other post that a Bitcoin node needs a fast drive, so a standard HDD NAS would not be a good option. Soooooo, I’m looking for recommendation on what I should install baremetal (StartOS or other) or if I should VM StartOS over another solution?!?! Thanks in advance y’all!!!


Currently we recommend Proxmox, and you will find others on this board have used it and even made nice guides for it. TrueNAS should also work, but may be a bit more advanced. Let us know how it goes!

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Thanks! I looked through the guide by Cyph3rp9nk, and its definitely thorough, but also assumes you kind of know what you’re doing with all the auxiliary subjects (Proxmox backups, StartOS backups, SSH, etc), which not all of us do (:raising_hand_man:). Also, its a lot of configuration, and honestly one of things that attracted me to Start9 is the idea of digital sovereignty, but for the masses, not just the IT wizards. It might be helpful to know a rough roadmap for StartOS, to best understand how we can plan our setups today.

As I said, I’d like to get a Bitcoin node up and running (full, not pruned), then some services, then a Google Drive replacement eventually. What’s the best hardware setup for that? I currently only have one 4 TB M.2 NVMe drive, which I did because I read that Bitcoin core should be installed on an SSD, not HDD, so I figured that’s where StartOS and all applications would go. I figured I would add storage drives off my SATA ports later once I got to that point (not sure if I will go SSDs of HDDs yet). If I go bare metal with StartOS, then I assume I’ll be fine putting it on the 4 TB NVMe drive, but if I use a hypervisor, Proxmox is recommended to be installed on a separate boot drive and TrueNAS Scale is required to be installed on a separate boot drive (I believe). Which begs the question, would StartOS be better on a separate boot drive if it was installed bare metal? Or is there no way to separate the OS and things like Bitcoin Core between different drives? If StartOS is planning to add NAS or other storage features in the future, maybe its worth waiting for that and install it bare metal? I can live with Google Drive for now. But if not, maybe Proxmox, TrueNAS Scale, or some combo of both should be in the stack.

I appreciate any advice you more seasoned folks can provide. I’m brand new to all of this, and keep finding myself with more questions than answers. Took me two months of research/learning just to get my server built :crazy_face:. Thanks for bearing with me!

If you are hesitant to do a custom setup, and you will be okay with 4TB of storage for the medium term, then I would advise just installing StartOS directly to the metal and not worrying about the hypervisor. This is the simplest, and will not require any additional maintenance.

In regard to installing the OS to a separate drive, this can be done, but affords little benefit. The only reason to do this is if you had a very small SSD that you wanted to utilize.

Regarding a roadmap, we do not currently have one, and anything we publish would be a vague overview. We used to have one, but it was difficult to maintain accurately, and we would prefer not to make promises on timelines anymore due to the sheer complexity of building an Operating System. It’s very difficult to predict how long some fixes and features will take to implement.

I totally understand not wanting to over promise anything. I guess I was more looking for just some high level, general info on what the plans/goals are (no need to commit to a timeline). I know other posts mentioned you are working on improving the storage options. Maybe you could shed some light on that? Or any other things the team is currently developing that you would feel comfortable sharing.

Yes, there will be enhanced storage options in 2024. At a high level, I can say that we will be both integrating and competing with established NAS solutions, such as Synology and TrueNAS.

Awesome! Thanks for that, it is helpful. I think you’ve about convinced me to install StartOS bare metal lol. My initial reason to use a hypervisor wasn’t actually related to storage, but that I was under the impression virtualizing would afford extra benefits, like if you had to reinstall it on different hardware, among others. Then also seeing the posts about StartOS’s current limited storage functionally, TrueNAS seemed like the best solution to address both items. In your/Start9’s view, are there any benefits to running StartOS on a VM?

Hey @mc-lemons, thanks for sharing your research and thoughtful questions. In the case of re-installing, doing so on new hardware is actually super easy with StartOS’ transfer process. Moving a VM might actually be harder. In terms of potential benefits, this has more to do with storage flexibility and the ability to run more OS’es on the same hardware. With Proxmox in particular you also have the advantage of using snapshots. Equally however, there can be trade-offs to using VMs. They may not be as snappy and must be run in e.g., kvm64. There may also be potential exploits for various VM systems and emulators. And technically, when you run VMs, you add more trust, since you’re running more software. Separate hardware would always be more secure in theory. I hope this answer helps!

Hey guys, thanks so much for the help and advice. I just wanted to let you know I decided to install StartOS bare metal. Everything is working and running smoothly. I also added my build to the post below. Cheers!

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This seems to be working well so far!

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