Did you know you don't need access to a RAID to explore a fully functional Xsan Admin interface? It's really quite easy to walk through the various setup options without any significant hardware investment at all. All you need is a blank piece of storage media to label as an available LUN. A blank FireWire drive is ideal, though amazingly, an item as minimal as a USB key has narrowly sufficed. If youíre comfortable proceeding at your own peril, and if you donít mind that your mileage may vary, hereís what to do:
First, install Xsan with Xsan Admin tools on the machine youíll use. Next, choose a drive for the experiment, one that contains no data you need. Launch Disk Utility, select the drive, and click the Partition tab. From the Format pop-up menu, select Free Space and click the Partition button. This will make the driveís capacity available for use as a LUN in your new minimal SAN.
Now, since the storage media youíve just partitioned is no longer a disk format that OS X can mount, you may be prompted to Ignore, Initialize or Eject the media as you proceed. For now, simply choose Ignore.
Close Disk Utility and launch Xsan Admin. From there, youíll be able to label your blank media as a new LUN, then add it to a new Storage Pool on a new volume to complete your minimal SAN. You can start and stop the Volume, mount & unmount it, dabble with affinities, the works.
While you wonít see anything impressive performance-wise moving data to and from your minimal SAN, youíll have all the functionality you need for purposes like introducing a new tech to the interface, discussing setup options with a customer on the phone, or reminding yourself where a specific button resides. Itís surprisingly useful.
Down the line, when youíre ready to break down your minimal SAN and put your piece of storage media back into regular Extended Journaled use, youíll need to launch Terminal and use the command line to ready that media for a reformat:
sudo ./cvlabel Ėu "volumename"
Once youíve done this to remove the volume label from the storage media you used for your minimal SAN, you may then erase that media normally in Disk Utility. The man page for
cvlabel covers its functions in more detail for those interested.