Marc Huppert

Stage XV: TimeMachine Backups using FibreChannel

I am using different Apple Mac models at my homelab. The 2012 Mac Mini Server versions for my VMware environment, the 27" iMac with Bootcamp as my Workstation, the 15" MacBook Pro Retina as my mobile Workstation and my 11" MacBook Air as my travel laptop. It was time to think about a complete new backup solution for that machines.....


I decided to switch from Windows 8.1 (Bootcamp) onto my iMac to native Mac OS X Yosemite. There are some challenges, no drivers for my QLogic FibreChannel HBA, no drivers for my Brocade 10GbE CNA and no drivers for Yosemite from FusionIO / SanDisk....

I tested my Sonnet Echo Express PCIe Expansion Units first at my travel laptop. I had no luck with the installed cards, because no drivers where available. I searched the internet for solutions.... and found them:

FibreChannel with Mac OS X:

I already got a Promise SanLink Thunderbolt to 4Gbit FibreChannel adapter, which works out of the box with Mac OS X Yosemite. I am using it for my 15" MacBook Pro Retina for backup and some virtual machines running Fusion. I had configured a 1,5TB LUN for VMs and a 3TB LUN for TimeMachine Backups onto my IBM DS3500 Storage Subsystem. But what happened to it when plugging the SanLink into another Mac? TimeMachine just creates a new folder and I was able to use the same LUN for my systems. GREAT

The TimeMachine performance for backup jobs are at 380MB/s, which is very nice.... :-)


10 GbE with Mac OS X:

I could not get my Brocade CNA 10GbE card working under Apples Operating system. No driver could be found to make it work. So I need another Mac OS compatible 10GbE network adapter that supports Thunderbolt Expansion mode....

All the cards I found are really expensive, I found a cheap Solarflare SFN-5122 card on ebay in the US. I ordered it, but I was not sure if it will work.

Here is the specification of the card:


Product Number

SFN5122F Dual-Port SFP+

Standards & Compliance

IEEE 802.3ae IEEE 802.3ad IEEE 802.1Q IEEE 802.1p IEEE 802.3x RoHS Compliant

Power (typical)

SFN5122F: 4.9W

Operating Range

0oto55oC 0 LFM, Min.

Physical Dimensions

L: 16.74 cm (6.59 in) W: 6.89 cm (2.71 in) End bracket height: PCI Express standard 12 cm (4.725 in)

PCI Express low-profile 7.92 cm (3.12 in) 


The vendor Solarflare offers Apple Mac OS X drivers with and without signature (I will come to this point in the next chapter).

It is working perfectly within Yosemite, I have only one (Broacade) SFP+ Gbic installed.

FusionIO ioDrive with Mac OS X:

The hardest part of my iMac Conversion was to get my FusionIO ioDrive card working under Mac OS X Yosemite. There are official drivers available for Mavericks, but not for Yosemite. I need to trick a little bit and disable the driver signing, that was implemented by Apple with Yosemite. It only accepts digital signed device drivers.....


1.) Open the Terminal application
2.) Type the following: sudo nvram boot-args="kext-dev-mode=1"
3.) Press the return key and enter your admin password
4.) Restart the computer


After that kernel tweaking, the FusionIO card is recognized and fully operating under Apple Mac OS X Yosemite. I used it for Movie Conversion and Virtual Machines running local on my iMac

I am pretty happy running my iMac native on Mac OS X with VMware Fusion for legacy apps. I configured Bootcamp, too for gaming....

The next steps for my homelab are already planned, so stay tuned. Click here for the next HomeLab story: Stage XVI: Custom High Performance NAS