From: Jonathan Buzzard on 16 Aug 2008 12:27
On Fri, 15 Aug 2008 16:54:24 +0100, Daniel James 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'm torn between opting for an easy off-the-shelf NAS solution that may
> not offer all the facilities that I'd like and setting up an actual
> server. An actual server has some attractions in that I'd like to run
> some sort of version control server (probably CVS or svn) on it, and
> possibly also use it as a distccd server to help with big builds on my
> linux development box. Neither of these is likely to be available as
> standard on any NAS appliance.
> So, I'm toying with four options.
> 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 might possibly, at some later date, play around with running modified
> firmware (these things mostly run some sort of linux, with a web
> interface for admin and some sort of bundled backup application) but I
> don't want to get into trying to cross-compile unfamiliar distros and
> reflashing unfamiliar hardware (possibly irreversibly) at this stage
> .. so realistically the NAS appliance route offers me just the minimum
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> On the side of the NAS box are:
> - Ease of setup and use
> - Small size
> - Low power consumption
> - Low noise
> On the side of a SFF box are:
> - Flexibility
> - Small size -- if I can find a small case
> - Low power consumption (but how low?)
> - Low noise (I hope)
> On the side of the old PC are:
> - Flexibility
> - Low cost
> On the side of the new PC build are:
> - Flexibility
> - Speed
> - Low noise
> TBH I'd really love to reuse one of the PIII boxes because I hate
> seeing kit that still has life in it lie idle, but they're huge and
> slow (though good enough for fileserving) and roar like a train ... The
> energy consumption is an unknown, too.
> Resolving this quandry would be easier if I knew more <sigh>.
> Does anyone have hands-on experience of any of the (2-drive) NAS
> appliances that might help? I know that the relatively cheap Icy-Box
> NAS4220 supports samba and NFS and RAID1, so that would be a
> possibility. The Qnap TS-209 Pro also does all this (and has Gbit net)
> but costs more than twice as much, is it worth it? Do any other 2-drive
> NAS appliances support NFS out of the box, and can they be recommended?
> 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?
> 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. That seems a lot ... how
> does it compare with the VIA C7 boards from the likes of VIA and
> Jetway? The C7 can use IIRC around 7W, but the support circuitry might
> be more frugal. You can get a fanless 1.2GHz C7 board for not too much
> more than the ATOM board (which has a fan) ... would that save me
My mini-ITX box draw 30W at the wall, and about 10W of that is the
horribly inefficient 12V SMPS, that I keep meaning to replace with a
custom lead acid battery backed PSU. This is a VIA EN12000, a PCI ADSL
card and a couple of 100GB 7200rpm 2.5" laptop drives in a software RAID
one. It is totally fan free, has no heat build up problems and gives me
With the VIA Padlock crypto acceleration, I get some exceptional
performance out of a 1.2GHz fanless box.
My biggest criticism is that the BIOS does not offer serial redirection.
It would also be nice if there was dual GbE adaptors as well.
Jonathan A. Buzzard Email: jonathan (at) buzzard.me.uk
St. Andrews, United Kingdom.
From: Daniel James on 16 Aug 2008 13:59
In article news:<877iah148e.fsf(a)cenderis.demon.co.uk>, Bruce Stephens
> 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).
The PSU fan isn't /that/ big either ... I can't easily get to the back
of my Venus 668 right now -- but poking a small mirror over the top --
it looks like 8cm?
One of the two 4c, fans is certainly optional -- I've tried the system
both with and without having it connected -- but I think the other is
wired direct to the CPU? You can probably cut the wires ...
> OTOH I guess if you stuck 4 disks in they'd
> generate some amount of heat.
You couldn't fit ... Oh, yes, you could fit 5 3.5" disks in the case if
you fitted one where the HD is supposed to go, one where the floppy is
supposed to go, and got one of those cages that let you fit 3 3.5"
drives into 2 5.25" bays ... You'd need a SATA card in the PCI slot to
wire them all up.
From: Daniel James on 16 Aug 2008 13:59
In article news:<873al513qa.fsf(a)cenderis.demon.co.uk>, Bruce Stephens
> I doubt the "swap in bigger disks" feature is of particular
> benefit at present (I think they only support up to 1TB disks, so
> you'd just buy those).
You might ... but the 1TB version of the box costs about twice as much
as the 500GB version and only has about �30 extra value (in disk cost).
I would *hope* that when, in about six months time, 8TB disks are ten a
penny they'll upgrade the firmware to cope ...
> And for a 2-disk thing adding an extra disk isn't going to be a
> problem (if you start with one disk, then adding another one just
> turns it into RAID-1, and presumably any system can do that without
> losing data).
It's not at all clear from their online info that X-RAID in 2-disk
configuration is actually the same as RAID-1. After all, you are
supposed to be able to add a disk (in the boxes with more bays) and
turn it into a 3-disk array with twice the capacity -- you can't do
/that/ with normal RAID-1.
> > What happens when the box itself fails? Can the data be read by
> > anything other than another ReadyNAS box?
> I doubt it. Though X-RAID is "patent pending", so maybe the patent
> application gives enough information to recover the data?
Quite. I find that all rather offputting.
> I like the look of the ICY BOX, BTW. The reviews I could find seem
> positive, and it's about half the price of the Netgear Duo. Shame
> they don't do 4, 5 disk ones.
The Icy-Box seems quite cheap'n'cheerful -- it gets "good value" rather
than "good" in an absolute sense in the reviews I've seen, but does
seem generally quite well received. It does do NFS out of the box,
which is good, but I've seen nothing to suggest you can run subversion,
or equivalent, on it. It doesn't help that the community wiki is in
It does have Gb ethernet, though I thought I'd read that it didn't. The
datasheet says that the PSU is 57W -- I hope it doesn't actually draw
that much when idle! (I'm sure it won't -- a HDD spinning up can use
30W all on its own so with 2HDDs you'd need around that much, even if
the box staggers the spin-up.)
From: Bruce Stephens on 16 Aug 2008 14:23
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)nospam.aaisp.org> writes:
> In article news:<873al513qa.fsf(a)cenderis.demon.co.uk>, Bruce Stephens
>> I doubt the "swap in bigger disks" feature is of particular
>> benefit at present (I think they only support up to 1TB disks, so
>> you'd just buy those).
> You might ... but the 1TB version of the box costs about twice as much
> as the 500GB version and only has about �30 extra value (in disk cost).
Sure. That's likely another market segmentation thing (driven buy
what they can get away with charging rather than cost).
Personally I'd have thought putting two nearly identical disks in a
RAID-1 would be a bad idea, so I'd have thought that wouldn't be
recommended: better to buy an empty one and put the disks (from
different manufacturers, different batches, etc.) in yourself.
> I would *hope* that when, in about six months time, 8TB disks are ten a
> penny they'll upgrade the firmware to cope ...
>> And for a 2-disk thing adding an extra disk isn't going to be a
>> problem (if you start with one disk, then adding another one just
>> turns it into RAID-1, and presumably any system can do that without
>> losing data).
> It's not at all clear from their online info that X-RAID in 2-disk
> configuration is actually the same as RAID-1. After all, you are
> supposed to be able to add a disk (in the boxes with more bays) and
> turn it into a 3-disk array with twice the capacity -- you can't do
> /that/ with normal RAID-1.
Sorry, I wasn't intending to imply that kind of direct equivalence.
I was suggesting X-RAID doesn't buy you much for two disks, since
JBOD/RAID-0 and RAID-1 provide more or less equivalent utility.
I agree X-RAID lets you upgrade the disks, but I'd guess you could use
a USB-2 disk to back up the data if you went with a standard solution.
Maybe Linux-based RAID also allows you to increase volume sizes in
that kind of way? Doesn't seem impossible to do.
From: Gordon Henderson on 16 Aug 2008 15:51
In article <VA.000014b2.254133be(a)nospam.aaisp.org>,
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)nospam.aaisp.org> wrote:
>In article news:<g86l9k$1ofp$1(a)energise.enta.net>, Gordon Henderson
>> Micro tower?
>Yeah, that's a possibility ... but I'd have liked something smaller.
>TBH if I go for a PC-sized case I'll start wanting to put PC-sized
>components in it (and end up with a real server and a fat electricity
>.. but not /that/ micro tower. It's a lot of money for a boring steel
>case which may not be particularly quiet, and has a PSU of unknown
>This looks more interesting:
>http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=11999 -- but look at the
Swappable drive bays?
Not convinced that's a must for a home server myself...
>I see they now have this:
>http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12173 which I hadn't seen
>before ... a bit cheaper, but why use cold-swap bays? I wonder whether
>it's acceptably quiet.
>> CN 1000 mobo:
>Yeah, or Jetway C7 board http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=11212
>which has Gb lan and costs less ... or the ATOM board they have which
>is cheaper and faster ... but maybe less efficient? The ATOM CPU is
>only supposed to be 4W but the board has a 945-family chipset and uses
>"20-34W". Intel's datasheet for the board says it may draw up to 52W in
>all -- a lot for a low-power device.
>I believe the VIA boards draw less power but can't find a clear
>statement of how much.
>> 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...
>Hmm. 4W idle ...
>bad. I'm not usually a fan of WD drives, or impressed by their
>reliability, but that's lower power than I've seen elsewhere.
I've a few dozen WD out in the field in various sizes - not had a
problem yet... They did have a bug in some models where the on-board
temp. sensor was reading about 20C too high though! (compared to an IT
thermometer I have)
>Even the Samsung "EcoGreen" drives only claim 5W --
Hm. Things are getting better...
>Those are all 1TB drives, though ... I did say I was thinking of going
>for 500GB or 750GB (now around the �50 mark) as I neither need nor want
>to pay for more just yet.
>> Should be able to get the whole unit down to 35W or less.
>Some of the NAS boxes based on ARM and other low-power chips claim as
>much as 30W with two drives ... if the EPIA solution can do that well
>I'll be impressed. Then again, this dual-core desktop box I'm typing on
>now only draws around 80W as measured at the mains.
If you go "proper" embedded with something like a 200MHz Arm processor
then it's down to next to nothing for the CPU - you're paying a bit of a
price in Watts for somethng that's more general purpose...