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A Look at FreeNAS Server 214

NewsForge (Also owned by VA) has a quick look at FreeNAS, an open source network attached storage server that can be deployed on pretty much any old PC you have sitting around the house. From the article: "The software, which is based on FreeBSD, Samba, and PHP, includes an operating system that supports various software RAID models and a Web user interface. The server supports access from Windows machines, Apple Macs, FTP, SSH, and Network File System (NFS), and it takes up less than 16MB of disk space on a hard drive or removable media."
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A Look at FreeNAS Server

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  • Ooh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:45PM (#15429527) Homepage
    I've been looking for something like this for a while now. I was contemplating one of those pre-built consumer level NAS (like the Terastation), but a nice tailored setup like this could tempt me to build my own. I need storage space for samples, I make lots of music with them :)
  • by GlobalEcho ( 26240 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @01:59PM (#15429648)
    I can set up Samba, etc. on just about any box. What defies me is setting up OpenAFS. How about a server that supports OpenAFS [] or Coda []?
  • Re:Neat but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:01PM (#15429660) Journal
    And yet, small appliances like this will probably win the day. In the end, they will run on top of xen in their own environment and be easily upgradable.

    IOW, this is a good time for Linux to create small appliances like this targeting a xen base.
  • Re:NAS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harrkev ( 623093 ) <kfmsd AT harrelsonfamily DOT org> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:07PM (#15429752) Homepage
    I am certainly not an expert on NAS...

    Gigabit ethernet is pretty rare on the type of old hardware that typically gets pressed into NAS usage. It would not take too much processing horsepower to saturate a 100 Mb/s link. If, on the other hand, you system has gigabit built-in, I suspect that it has a processor attached that can handle it.

    But, if you are the type of guy to attach a PCI gigabit ethernet port to an old P-3, then the processor might not be able to keep up.

    And now for something completely different...

    There are distos like FreeNAS that do one thing well. There are other distros that can also do broadband router functions. Does anybody know of anything that does both? I will spare you the details, but I would like one box that can do NAS duty (NFS and Samba), and act as a router. The computer will have three ethernet ports -- one for cable modem, one for the switch to the wired LAN, and one for the wireless AP. I know that I could roll-my-own by using (insert favorite distro here), but that would take me longer to learn how to set up than I have right now, especially with my wife's business (see signature below). Something with a point-n-drool interface that is web-administered would be perfect. Bonus points for print server. Any suggestions?
  • by freelunch ( 258011 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:24PM (#15429960)
    I always thought the OS and software were the easy part. What do folks like for hardware platforms? I don't care about 2 or 4 drive solutions - those are trivial. I'm talking 8-10 drives in the 320-500 gb range. Most turn-key solutions are Far too expensive when compared to the 'build a box' DIY alternative.

    I've been building linux boxes for this and have used Antec cases in the past with 120mm fans. Proper drive cooling and monitoring are very important. Anything beyond 5 or 6 drives means using the 5 1/4 drive bays and that gets old fast.

    What controllers? Cheap SATA controllers are a must. I couldn't care less about the $200-$400 controllers. Some controllers don't do dma correctly when you have more than one in a machine. I have played with the Syba SD-SATA-4p under Linux and it works okay (though it does not work with one amd64 machine that has a Promise ATA controller).. Price is right at about $15-$25 for four ports ($4-8/port!). I haven't tried two or more in the same machine. There does not seem to be any SMART support in the current linux driver.

    10 320 gb drives = $1150 = 36 cents/GB.
    $500 machine + $1150 = 51.5 cents/GB.
  • SMB,NFS,AFP-Mmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theolein ( 316044 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:50PM (#15430218) Journal
    I have setup a Linux server to server to both Mac and PC clients on the same volumes/shares using AFP with the Netatalk [] package, and SMB with Samba []. Netatalk, in its new incarnations is by far the best non-apple AFP server available. It works seamlessly with modern OSX clients (10.3 and 10.4), supporting precomposed UTF-8 charactersets, long file names (most commercial NAS devices still only support the ancient appletalk implementation with 32 MacRoman charactersets and glacial unreliable performance) and even Bonjour/Zeroconf [] support.

    Netatalk works surprisingly well with modern Samba versions (post 3.0) that support UTF-8 (and now even includes a netatalk module to ease compatibility), and both samba and netatalk hide one another's specific data from the other so that resource forks are kept and if the mswindows option is enabled in netatalk, the worst character problems (?\ etc in filenames) are safe.

    What I would really love to see is a system that reliably combines these, PLUS NFS for Linux shares. The FreeNAS looks good, but seesm to be a bit on the young side without decent Mac support, and god knows there are enough Mac using companies that don't want to have to fork over money for XServes.
  • Recovery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by babanada ( 977344 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:01PM (#15430314)
    I threw a FreeNAS server up on my home network one day. The next day I decided to back up an XP box that had never been backed up before using the included backup program over the net. The following week I mistakenly deleted files in cygwin (watch out for the /cygdrive/driveletter, it is hidden from / and doesn't follow normal rules... that's my story anyway) and had to restore the XP box. I was able to restore the system over the network from the FreeNAS box. It was a *very* quick restore. Anyway, I like FreeNAS as a quick and easy way to do network backups/restores. The install is very quick and painless, and the BSD it runs on is stable and fast. Agreed about the security issues for corporate use, unless it is just a cheap way to make a drive and an old box into a complete recovery device... just turn it off when you aren't recovering.
  • by tweek ( 18111 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:53PM (#15430739) Homepage Journal
    My setup is as follows:

    Dual-P3 1Ghz
    1GB of RAM
    4x250GB SATA - Linux Software RAID5 - New array
    2x160 SATA - Linux Software RAID1 - Old Array

    The neat part is the external SATA. I planned this for about a year and waited till all the parts came to the right price point:

    The 4-250GB drives are in one of these: []

    Connected to my 4-port SATA adapter using one of these: []
    and one of these er-bracket.html []

    The raid card is a cheap rocketraid 1640. I'm not a fan of the halfass raid that is thrown on the low-end SATA cards but I needed the ports.

    My next step is to add another configuration similar to this one in the same server.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @07:33PM (#15431944)
    version 2 of NASLite is going to support more than 4 drives, SATA,SCSI,FW,USB, hardware raid etc. I think it's gonna be released any day now.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:09PM (#15432885)
    "And while I'm on the subject, why don't we see cheap server appliances for other services? Is it lack of market demand that keeps me from being about the buy a low power, cheap apache server in a box the size of a cable modem? Same for proftpd and squirrelmail/postfix/mailman? Seriously, I know the market is limited, but it's hardly non-existent! Especially if they made it easy to set up and use, then ANYONE could be an end point. That is the real promise fo the Internet to me."

    I don't think that there is a market for the types of devices you are listing. Who would use the apache box? Bloggers? People sharing family photos? There are already better solutions for these people in the form of myspace, blogger, flickr, etc. People more technically savvy than these folks can set up one of the more general-use network appliances out there. A pre-configured, out of the box ftp server is even more niche, and I don't even want to try to find a non-tech-whiz that even has an interest in running a mail server in these days of free gig accounts at Google and among the mountains of spam.

    Frankly the only reason I think that network hard drives are so popular is that people are terrified of cracking open their PCs to install a hard drive, and they don't really understand the difference between the various external types. Slightly more savvy users get sold on the ability to share music between multiple computers, or backing up from multiple computers to one drive without swapping wires, and all that jazz.

  • by swinte ( 227749 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:46AM (#15435436) Homepage
    I'm using NFS on a couple of my Macs talking to FreeNAS without any issues. I switched to NFS after getting cranky at how slow Netatalk and Samba were for my daily backup operations.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus