Funtoo Compute Initiative

For many years, the Funtoo project has been using Funtoo Linux for its entire infrastructure. A few years ago, we began to allow Funtoo Linux users to use our OpenVZ-based infrastructure for hosting, development and other projects, which you can learn more about at Funtoo Hosting.

The Funtoo Compute Initiative is an effort to document how Funtoo sets up servers and its container infrastructure, including everything from ordering of bare metal, to deployment, operation and maintenance. In short, it's our effort to share all our tricks with you, so you can use Funtoo Linux to quickly and inexpensively deploy very powerful hosting and container-based compute solutions.

The platform that we will deploy uses Funtoo Linux in conjunction with OpenVZ, which allows the creation of hundreds of native-speed containers that run Funtoo Linux or other Linux-based operating systems. Containers are like virtual machines, except that they run at native speed and there is a single kernel per server, rather than a kernel for each virtual machine. Containers can run any operating system -- as long as it's Linux. In addition, OpenVZ containers are now capable of running Docker.

Reference Hardware

The hardware that the Funtoo Project has used for its last two server deployments are documented below:

HP Proliant DL 160 Generation 6 (G6), with 48GB RAM and two 6-core Intel Xeon x5650 processors1U HP server, Intel Westmere CPUs, 24 CPU threads total.$750 USD (used, off-lease, eBay)HP DL 360 G7
Crucial MX200 1TB SSDRoot filesystem and container storageApprox $330 USDConsider a 256GB SSD for boot, root, swap and a second 1TB SSD for dedicated OpenVZ container use

The above hardware allows you to build a 1U, 12-core, 24-thread, 48GB compute platform with 1TB of SSD storage for right around $1100.


Once receiving the off-lease server, it's recommended that you remove the CPU heat sinks, clean them and the CPU contact surface with alcohol cleaning pads, and re-apply high-quality thermal grease. Based on my experience, the OEM thermal grease on off-lease servers is often in need of re-application and this will help keep core temperatures well within a safe range when the server is deployed.

Hardware Deployment and Initial Setup

Place the 1TB in drive bay 1 as a single ATA disk, and install the Intel64-westmere build of Funtoo Linux following our Install instructions, using the following recommended configuration:

Configuration overview:

  1. I typically allocate 1GB for the /boot filesystem
  2. It's a good idea to have 24-48GB for swap, for emergencies
  3. Use ext4 for the root filesystem. OpenVZ is optimized for and tested on ext4. Don't use any other filesystem for container-related applications.
  4. Rather than using debian-sources, use the openvz-rhel6-stable kernel with the binary USE flag set.
  5. Emerge sys-cluster/vzctl and add the vz service to the default runlevel (this is covered below.)
  6. net.eth0 will be configured using Funtoo Networking as interface-noip, and will be connected to a WAN switch
  7. net.brwan will have net.eth0 as slave, and will be configured with a routable IPv4 address.
  8. net.eth1 will be configured using Funtoo Networking as interface-noip, and will be connected to a fast private LAN switch.
  9. net.brlan will have net.eth1 as slave, and will be configured with a non-routable static IPv4 address.

The network and initial server configuration will be covered in more detail below.

Kernel Setup Steps

To set up the kernel, perform the following steps from the initial chroot during install:

chroot # epro mix-ins +openvz-host
chroot # emerge -av openvz-rhel6-stable
After emerging boot-update, ensure that your /etc/boot.conf references the specific version of openvz-rhel6-sources that you installed above, such as in this example:

boot {
        generate grub
        default "kernel-openvz-rhel6-stable-x86_64-2.6.32-042stab111.12"
        timeout 3 

"Funtoo Linux genkernel" {
        kernel kernel[-v]
        initrd initramfs[-v]
        params += real_root=auto rootfstype=auto

Then go through the normal process of grub-install and boot-update as detailed in the installation instructions.

Initial Ebuilds

You will need to ensure that OpenVZ's userspace tools are installed, and enabled at startup:

chroot # emerge -av vzctl
chroot # rc-update add vz default
Similarly, we will use SheerDNS (package not on wiki - please add) to update DNS entries. In Funtoo master DNS, there is an NS record pointing to each of our OpenVZ hosts. This allows container DNS entries to be managed locally by SheerDNS and containers to have domain names:

chroot # emerge -av sheerdns
chroot # rc-update add sheerdns default

Initial Network Configuration

Now, to configure the network. As described in our summary above, we are going to create two bridges -- one for outgoing Internet traffic, and one for internal traffic. In this example, we are going to assign a routeable and private IP address to each bridge, respectively. This will allow you to also directly reach the OpenVZ host via the Internet as well as via a private IP when connecting to the LAN. Note that containers will use veth networking, which is more flexible than OpenVZ's typical venet networking. However, it does allow containers to make full use of the network interface, so it's recommended that each interface is "locked own" to only be able to use the container's IP, for example. We will cover the iptables rules for this later. For now, let's just get the interfaces set up.

In the example configuration below, net.brwan is going to be our WAN, or "Internet-connected" bridge. We will use the physical interface eth0 as our WAN interface, which will get plugged into a WAN router. Set the bridge up as follows:

chroot # cd /etc/init.d
chroot # ln -s netif.tmpl net.brwan
chroot # ln -s netif.eth0 net.eth0
chroot # rc-update add net.brwan default
In /etc/conf.d/net.eth0, put the following:


In /etc/conf.d/net.brwan, put the following, using your own IPv4 address, of course:


Follow the same steps to set up net.brlan, except use eth1 as your physical link, and specify a non-routeable IPv4 address in /etc/conf.d/net.brlan, and do not specify a gateway at all. And of course, plug your physical eth1 interface into a private LAN switch.

Congratulations! You've now completed all the variant install steps that are needed prior to reboot. Continue setting up the server after completing the official install steps that were not covered above. Remember to set a root password, reboot, and then continue setup below.

Recommended Ebuilds

The following ebuilds are recommended as part of a Funtoo server deployment. First, sys-apps/haveged (package not on wiki - please add) is recommended. For what purpose? Well, the Linux kernel maintains its own internal entropy (randomness) source, which is actually an essential component for encryption. This entropy source is kept viable by injecting it with a lot random timing information from user input -- but on a headless server, this entropy injection doesn't happen nearly as much as it needs to. In addition, we are going to potentially be running hundreds of OpenSSH daemons and other entropy-hungry apps. The solution is to run haveged which will boost the available entropy on our headless server:

# emerge -av sys-apps/haveged
# rc-update add haveged default
Mcelog is essential for detecting ECC memory failure conditions. Any such conditions will be logged to /var/log/mcelog:

# emerge -av app-admin/mcelog
# rc-update add mcelog default
Smartmontools should be configured to monitor for pre-emptive disk failure for all your disks:

# emerge -av sys-apps/smartmontools
# rc-update add smartd default
Ensure lines similar to the following appear in your /etc/smartd.conf:

# -M test also ensures that a test alert email is sent when smartd is started or restarted, in addition to regular monitoring
# Remember to put a valid email address, above ^^