clarification/update on drobopro, mac os x, 64-bit, 10.8, drobo dashboard, etc.

i’m a longtime drobopro user on mac.

much of the time i’ve owned my drobopro, however, i’ve been using it with firewire rather than iscsi, due to numerous problems with drobo’s non-support of iscsi.

anyway, for a while now i am trying to use iscsi and i’m realizing that there are some pretty fundamental things i don’t really understand about how the droboPro works and it’s dependencies on various things.

first, i know that unlike a firewire drobo, drobopro connected via iscsi won’t even show up if you connect it to a mac that doesn’t have drobo software installed/enabled.

second, i understand \ the proper procedure for getting a droboPro working via its iscsi interface (connecting it first thru USB or firewire).

a while back, i managed to complete that process and i have drobo dashboard (latest version) connected to my mac (running mac os x server 10.8.2) via iscsi. i can successfully access the droboPro and (at least so far) it seems to hold up pretty well under load.

installing drobodashboard seems to have added some other system extensions and things to my system. for example, there appear to be two processes always running on my machine now, DDService64d which runs as root via launchctl and DDAssist, which runs as the logged-in user (possibly launched as a side effect of running the drobo dashboard app, but i’m not sure).

the drobo support staff’s position as i understand it is that one can only access an iscsi-mounted droboPro after drobodashboard has been mounted. at least that’s what they told me. they told me that it is a “limitation of the mac os”.

i’m finding this requirement (if correct) to be inconvenient and inelegant, especially in a server environment. the mac is a server and (for example) i want to have files be accessible to other users via filesharing, or to other applications that need to access them. i may not want there to be a any user logged into the machine, at least some of the time.

does anyone know the real story here? in particular, i’m trying to understand whether it might be the case that either

a) drobodashboard (DD) is required only when first setting up a droboPro to use iscsi (i.e., converting it from USB or firewire, and setting it’s IP configuration, if necessary).

b) DD is required the first time a droboPro is accessed via iscsi (i.e., perhaps to handle some kind of handshaking or discovery or something). or

c) DD is required for all use of droboPro over iscsi.

i’m really hoping the answer is a or b (not c). the only way to run DD is to be logged in. this means volumes on the droboPro can’t be used as home directories or as shared filesystems unless i take pains to make sure that a user is always logged into a machine, which can be impractical or inconvenient for a server machine.

i’ve done a bit of experimentation and if i simply boot the machine and log in, but don’t run drobodashboard, the drobopro does show up on the desktop. so that’s encouraging. with limited testing, it seemed as though the device was kind of slow to respond or something, if i tried to run w/o launching the DD app, at least at first.

am i ok running w/o the DD app? will i lose anything if don’t launch the DD app? now that it is set up and working, will i bel able to have full access to the volumes on the droboPro without ever doing a user login on the machine (for example via file sharing)? based on this initial result, i’m encouraged. i guess i have some testing to do. anyone else have experience to share in this area?

thanks.

I thikn that is incorrect (disclaimer - im not a mac guy)

To access any iscsi device - you need an iscsi initiator, windows has this built in… i am very happy to be corrected, but i dont think the regular versions of OSx do (basing this on hazy memories from previous posting on the forums - ive never used a mac)… so dashboard has a basic one which is used to connect to the drobo… that is why you have to hvae dashboard installed to access it over iscsi.

you can also use your own non-drobodashboardthird party iscsi initiator… i dont know how these run / are setup - but i woudl imagine it is possible that they can be setup to be part of the OS (since its a pretty fundamental service) so they run regardless of whether a user is logged on or not?

which would solve all of your issues?

thats my understanding, i may be wrong, but im not a mac guy and im too lazy to do your research for you :wink:

good luck!

you are correct.

the thrust of what i was getting at was: since mac os x (all versions) provides no native iscsi driver, you need to load at least some extra software to use the drobo via iscsi on the mac. this is what data robotics refers to as “drobo dashboard”. it actually includes both drobo dashboard (the app/GUI) and (when connected to the droboPro) a few other system extensions, including an iscsi driver (or “initiator” as i guess it is called, though i’m not really that familiar with iscsi terminology).

as to your suggestion to use a 3rd party driver… i know it is possible. i’ve heard of some people having success. it’s not really a path i’m personally interested in going down at this point.

so my question is mainly about what DD actually does and whether it (in particular the user-space app) is really necessary. drobo support told me it was. my recent experience suggest that it is not. so i’m trying to get the real story and understand what if anything i might be missing by accessing the drive w/o every having launched DD.

Drobo support knows that OSX doesn’t include an iSCSI initiator as part of the OS. They used to advise customers to get a third-party initiator and then configure it thus and so. That was not always welcomed by frustrated customers. They then licensed the ATTO third-party initiator and bundle it with Drobo Dashboard. Now their advice is “install DD and it works.”
Drobo Dashboard requires a user log in to the OS.

You certainly can set up your DroboPro with a third-party initiator. I guess that’s not something Drobo support feels able to explain.
Based on an article in Drobo’s knowledgebase, you might have more success with the ATTO initiator than the SNS one. Heck, maybe you can directly configure the ATTO initiator that came with DD. (I haven’t tried this.)

It’s a bit of a tricky answer. The initiator does indeed run as a system-level service and has no problem mounting iSCSI targets on boot. However, there’s the matter of configuration - if you want to use the Dashboard to configure things, it may configure it to only mount at user login, even though there’s no technical limitation from the initiator. It’s certainly possible to manually write a launchd script to mount targets at boot; I just don’t know if that will interfere in any way with what the Dashboard is normally doing. Along the same lines, if you install it manually, you can just install the iSCSI kexts and support files without the whole Dashboard/ddservice parts.

Drobo won’t support that manner of setup - they’ve provided one that works and is supportable - but if it’s what you need, you can do it.