From: Daniel James on 15 Aug 2008 11:54
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
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:
- 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:
- Low cost
On the side of the new PC build are:
- 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
I really do want to run this thing headless. I know that the NAS
appliances come with web apps for setup/admin and can operate without a
keyboard or screen (and, indeed, have no means to drive them) ... and I
know that I can drive a standard linux distro via shhd once it is set
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? I've
run out of ports on my KVM switch and I really don't want the hassle of
disconnecting one of the other PCs to set this thing up (especially as
I managed to break one of the PS/2 connectors last time I did that --
elderly cheap Belkin cable with deteriorating plastic).
Sorry to ask so many questions in one post .... any thoughts or
comments on any of the above will be gratefully received.
From: Bernard Peek on 15 Aug 2008 12:18
In message <VA.000014a7.1fa82938(a)nospam.aaisp.org>, Daniel James
>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
I acquired a mini-ITX board and put it into an old ATX case. There's a
lot of fresh air inside the case but that's no real problem. It's got a
whisper-quite 170W PSU and with an old disk makes a usable web-server.
>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.
Have you considered recycling a laptop?
London, UK. DBA, Manager, Trainer & Author.
From: Bruce Stephens on 15 Aug 2008 12:52
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)nospam.aaisp.org> writes:
> 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
No, but I recently bought the 4-slot ReadyNAS NV+, and I believe
that's basically like the 2-disk Duo, only more than twice as
expensive (the workings of market segmentation, I presume).
It feels reassuringly heavy and carefully engineered and (so far, at
least) just works. It supports NFS and a bunch of streaming protocols
for audio and video files (and images, probably). It's also
Linux-based, so with enough fiddling you can probably get lots of
things working on it. There's a HOWTO for running a subversion server
on it, for example.
Sure, it's expensive for what's basically a small wimpy
special-purpose machine, but it does seem to do what it's supposed to,
and did it straight out of the box.
A possibly relevant factor is that many of these devices (even those
based on Linux and supporting NFS) for some bizarre reason require a
Windows or Mac to configure them. The ReadyNAS range seems to be an
From: Daniel James on 15 Aug 2008 17:03
In article news:<fkyMbbaRxapIFwSK(a)shrdlu.com>, Bernard Peek wrote:
> I acquired a mini-ITX board and put it into an old ATX case. There's a
> lot of fresh air inside the case but that's no real problem. It's got a
> whisper-quite 170W PSU and with an old disk makes a usable web-server.
I've got a VIA EPIA M10000 board in a Morex Venus 6... er ... the one
before the current 669 model. It was built as a MythTV box but it actually
gets used as a spare linux desktop and occasional TV - I never found the
time to set up MySQL and MythTV on it. Nor could I ever work out why a PVR
application needs an industrial-strength RDBMS ...
It certainly has the power to run a simple server apps ... but it really
struggles to rebuild its Gentoo system from source when there's been a
major upgrade. I think the initial build took about a week, and it can
take a day or two to update now even with a 3GHz P4 machine helping with
distcc. I don't think using a mini-ITX system as a distcc /server/ will
make much impact on compile times on other machines.
The Venus case is bigger than I'd want for a server/NAS box, and there's a
good bit of fan noise -- from the PSU especially. If I go down the
mini-ITX route for the fileserver I'd want to use a fanless CPU in a
smaller case with one large slow fan ... and an external PSU brick.
> Have you considered recycling a laptop?
Yes ... but I don't know of a laptop that can take two 750GB drives ...
From: Bruce Stephens on 15 Aug 2008 17:36
Daniel James <wastebasket(a)nospam.aaisp.org> writes:
> In article news:<87od3ui5kx.fsf(a)cenderis.demon.co.uk>, Bruce Stephens
>> I recently bought the 4-slot ReadyNAS NV+
> Netgear? A friend had the earlier/cheaper SC101 and hated it ... The
> ReadyNAS is apparently quite different from that, but his experience
> makes me cautious.
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.