From: Daniel James on
In article news:<jF$TDkJnyfpIFwn2(a)>, Bernard Peek wrote:
> >Yes ... but I don't know of a laptop that can take two 750GB drives ...
> External caddies, USB2, done.

You are joking?

Quite apart from the general crapness of USB for connecting disks and the
fact that my available spare laptop(s) have only one USB 1.1 port each
(but I believe you can get PCMCIA USB2 cards) ... I don't think a laptop
and a couple of external drives makes for a particularly neat or tidy
setup ... and I'd end up with three wall warts to feed it all instead of
one ...


From: Daniel James on
In article news:<87y72ygdve.fsf(a)>, Bruce Stephens
> IIUC the ReadyNAS things were developed by Infrant which Netgear
> bought. So it's quite possible that the ReadyNAS things are entirely
> different to other storage things sold by Netgear.

Yes, the Irfant heritage of the boxes does come out in the online

I had a look at the notes on getting subversion running on the ReadyNAS
... it's just a matter of setting up SSH access and APT and then
getting the code from a server. Not too arduous (even if there is some
question as to the validity of the warranty after doing so).

I also see that some dealers are giving away an iPod shuffle with the
Duo at the moment ... I don't want one but it might make a good xmas
prezzie for a nipot.

What's your opinion of the X-RAID thing that ReadyNAS does? It's
attractive on the face of it ... that you can just swap in bigger
drives, one at a time, and have the box automagically resize your
volume to fill the smallest drive currently installed ... but is it a
proprietary format? What happens when the box itself fails? Can the
data be read by anything other than another ReadyNAS box?

I read the FAQ ... there's some weasel-wording about NetGear recovering
your data from disks for a fee ...

There's a lot to be said for a simple linux software RAID-1 and being
able to use either drive in another machine if disaster strikes.


From: Theo Markettos on
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)> wrote:
> I've been meaning, for some time, to provide some sort of storage
> server for the motley collection of computers -- some Windows and some
> linux based -- that lurk around here. The primary requirement is that
> it be able to run headless, and that it support both samba/cfs and NFS
> from a RAID-1 array (probably 2x750GB SATA), but it'd be nice to be
> able to do some other things with it too.

I've been thinking similar thoughts. I currently have an old-ish desktop PC
doing the job (Athlon XP 2600+). As far as power consumption goes:

Drives spundown 60W
Idle 80W
Peak 90-100W

It has two 3.5" hard drives, so I'd budget 10W per drive. There's a third
3.5" drive in a USB case.

I'm quite surprised that this hefty great lump is actually considered
relatively low power these days. Which is going to make beating it a bit

> 1. A NAS appliance. There are some that support samba and NFS and would
> meet my minimum requirement. These things generally run low-power CPUs
> (often ARM or PPC) so run at quite low power, which is good for
> cost/greenness but makes it harder to customize them.

I don't have a NAS, but I have a wireless router (Netgear WGT634U, 233MHz
MIPS, 32MB RAM, runs Debian). The filesystem is on USB flash which doesn't
help, but it's dog slow. It takes 9W though, including wireless and USB

I wouldn't want to inflict something on my drives that couldn't get near
their throughput. My box spends a fair time doing backups, shuffling data
from one disc to another. If you intend to use rsync for backups (as I do),
note that it eats CPU and RAM for breakfast. I'd hate to think what it
would do to a little NAS box.

> 2. Small format PC -- new build, mini-ITX, or similar -- running either
> a standard Linux distro or (say) FreeNAS (I don't know of any support
> for NFS from Windows-based servers). I could easily set up the file
> server side, and would also be able to set up a VCS server. It wouldn't
> have the power to be much use as a distccd server, though. There's a
> nice intel ATOM 1.6GHz mini-ITX board for around ?50 (including CPU)
> that I might use ... but a big problem is that there seems to be a
> dearth of small cases for this sort of setup -- and those that do exist
> are expensive.

This is the sort of thing I'm considering right now. But I wouldn't use a
SFF PC, I'd use a low power board and put it in a normal case. That means
there's plenty of cooling for the drives, you can put them in caddies to
make swapping them easier, and if you want to put in another drive it's

From what I've seen of the Atom is that the CPU's power consumption is
great, but the northbridges used on the motherboards haven't caught up and
need chunky great fans:
However this isn't actually a problem in a desktop case but it does take the
edge off the power savings.

> 3. An old PC running linux or FreeNAS (as above). This would give
> similar power to a SFF box (less than the ATOM -- they're 450MHz PIIIs)
> so I still wouldn't have much joy with distccd but it would be cheap to
> set up (I'd just need a SATA controller card and a couple of drives --
> the motherboards have on-board SCSI but SCSI drives are nothing like as
> cost-effective as they used to be). Downside here is that the old boxes
> I have are big and noisy, and possibly not very economical to run.

I'd quite like to do that because the ITX route is expensive and slow, but
haven't a clue of the power usage of old PCs. I suppose I ought to trawl
the small ads armed with a power meter.

Anyone recommend an economical quick-ish desktop board/processor range that
I might be able to find secondhand? A bit slower than my Athlon is fine,
but not 486 territory :)

> 4. New full-size PC. I'm thinking of something like a low-end EE AM2
> A64X2 with everything on-board in a quiet case and an efficient PSU.
> This would run linux with samba/cifs and NFS networking and anything
> else I felt like -- there would be plenty of oomph for distccd. It
> could easily be quiet enough, but would be big (not as big as my spare
> PIII boxes) but would use more power -- I'm guessing about 80W idle
> whereas I'd hope a NAS appliance could manage 20-30W.

I don't see power usage dropping on new machines, so if a PIII450 does the
job it might end up taking the same power as the new machine. But having a
compile server is always useful :) Personally I'd like something that's
about as fast as my 5-year-old board but lower power.

> How much power do these NAS boxes actually use? Anyone put a meter on
> one? I'm guessing about a bit more than 10W for the logic board plus
> around 7-10W per drive (when spinning). How noisy are they? Do NAS
> boxes spin their drives down when inactive? Does the delay when they
> spin back up again cause problems for network clients?

From experience of similar ARM boards I'd suggest 10W is probably the right
sort of ballpark for the logic board.

There's nothing to stop the drives from spinning down, but perhaps the
software doesn't have that setting (if it's Linux you can probably get in
and run hdparm). But I don't know whether the wear on the drives would be
worth it.

> The intel ATOM CPU is said to use no more than 4W ... but the spec for
> the ATOM mini-ITX board quotes power use up to 50+W -- I suppose the
> supporting circuitry is responsible for that.

Ah yes, that's what I mentioned above. Be aware, though, that the max power
rating probably includes a full load of PCI and USB devices taking their
maximum draw (25W per PCI slot, 2.5W per USB device) - probably you can only
tell by measuring what the actual currents are.

> up, but is there a distro that's designed to be installed and run on
> normal PC kit that has no keyboard or monitor connected? Something that
> will install from a LiveCD that boots with shhd support, perhaps?

Perhaps. You could also swap out the discs to another machine and install
from there (onto a USB case?). When I did this the only thing that broke
was the X11 video driver - one machine had an NVidia, the other an SiS or
something - I had to tweak xorg.conf to use the right driver (the console
worked, but Ubuntu put X11 in 'safe' 640x480 mode).

From: Bruce Stephens on
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)> writes:


> Mind you it says 2x4cm fans here too:

Yeah, but I guess the PSU fan would be sufficient presuming you don't
have too powerful a system inside (so you could just not connect up
the stupidly small fans). OTOH I guess if you stuck 4 disks in they'd
generate some amount of heat.


From: Gordon Henderson on
In article <VA.000014ae.243f13b9(a)>,
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)> wrote:

>I /like/ mini-ITX solutions, but if I'm going to have to go for a
>Venus-sized case to fit the drives in I'll be tempted to go for a
>mini-tower and a uATX board with a bit more CPU power ... but that pushes
>the electricity consumption up and I'm trying to be green about this.

Micro tower?

CN 1000 mobo:

(You'll need memory for it too)

Pair of 1TB drives:

These are WDC's green drives - They're not the fastest, but run cool and
use less power than just about anything else...

Should be able to get the whole unit down to 35W or less.

Those mobos will run Debian - that's what I base my flash booting
systems on. (Although I compile a custom kernel)

And don't forget - most of these mobos only have 10/100 ethernet ports -
that's ~10M Bytes a sec maximum data transfer... Which is about 20% of
what the drives can do, so unless you're going for a mobo with Gb
Ethernet (and you feel you really need it!) don't be overly concerned
about drive speed. The box will soak up any unused memory as disk cache

Good luck!

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