Connecting Debian 8 to a DroboPro via iscsi

Here’s how I connect from Debian 8 to my DroboPro over iscsi.

My Debian server has a dedicated network card for this purpose. You *can* do it over your regular network but any communication between your server and the iscsi target will decrease the bandwidth you have left on your network.

iscsi client: Debian Server
iscsi target: DroboPro

Install open-iscsi

# aptitude install open-iscsi


In /etc/iscsi/iscsi.conf:
# automatically log into a node:

node.startup = automatic

When I couldn’t log in for no specific reason this seemed to help. Don’t think it is necessary though.

node.conn[0].iscsi.HeaderDigest = None
node.conn[0].iscsi.DataDigest = None 

Restart the open-iscsi service:

# service open-iscsi restart

Do a discovery:

# iscsiadm -m discovery -t sendtargets -p

The server responded with:,0

Copy the target name which is the bit after the space. Do not include the space nor the bit before. This has kept me busy for a while.

# iscsiadm --mode node --targetname --portal --login

The server responded with:

Logging in to [iface: default, target:, portal:,3260] (multiple)
Login to [iface: default, target:, portal:,3260] successful.

The DroboPro
The DroboPro

Drobo Dashboard
Now the DroboPro has some quirks. You can only connect to its management web interface through Drobo Dashboard from a Windows or a Mac machine using a USB cable. I didn’t have a Windows machine at my disposal, just a Xubuntu 15.04 laptop.

No problem, just install VirtualBox and install a Windows 7 trial. Unfortunately VirtualBox in Ubuntu’s repositories is not the latest version and at the time of writing the current version has a bug which prevents USB passthrough from the host to the guest VM.

Installing VirtualBox 5 was easy enough. VirtualBox is well documented; the instructions are here. Just make sure you have the right Extension Pack installed and install the Client Additions on the VM. My laptop had a USB 3 port so I enabled USB 3. That didn’t work; I needed to allow only USB 2 passthrough.

Had enough? I had but I still needed to run

$ sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

to be able to start my VM. Note that running the setup as root did NOT work:

# /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup <-- this didn't work!

Paperclip reset
My weapon of choice

Now then.

IP adventures
The VM started and the DroboPro connected. Then more trouble: my older installation (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) would not connect to the iscsi target. After a LOT of trial and error I found that it would not connect to an iscsi IP address it had tried to connect to earlier and failed so after every failure I needed to reconnect the DroboPro to the VM via USB, set an other iscsi IP address and try to reconnect from my server.

Eventually I was no longer able to connect Drobo Dashboard to the DroboPro via USB. More trial and error. I then did a factory reset on the DroboPro, was able to connect via Drobo Dashboard, created a fresh NTFS partition and set a new iscsi IP address.

Victory is mine
The server connected, I copied all five terabytes of my data to it, reinstalled my server, connected over iscsi without any difficulties whatsoever this time and restored the data.

Ping replies
Victory is mine!

These things are nice to know in advance:

  • The DroboPro does not support EXT4, say Data Robotics. I succeeded in formatting it to EXT4 but I suppose their firmware also does NTFS and EXT3 tricks to speed things up so I’m sticking to NTFS for the moment.
  • If you need to connect via USB disconnect the network cable from the DroboPro and vice versa.
  • A factory reset sometimes helps.
  • Try connecting from another client.

If it works the DroboPro is still a very nice addition to your network. I think I’ll keep it for backups. It connects to a dedicated network card on my server and copying is twice as fast to my Debian server as it is to a Windows server – on the same hardware.

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