Deciding on the NAS Software

tuxSo, I hope you have a box ready, because we are going to install some software today. I had said this was going to be built using Linux, but we really should take another look at some of the possibilities. I don’t want to run Windows server on this box. If that is something you are interested in, you will have to use some Google skills. I wan to look at how we can use some Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to do what we want to do. There are some alternatives to rolling it ourselves, and they are worth a look. But first, lets decide what it is that we want to run on this box, or what capabilities it needs to have.

  • Software Raid – I have two large drives, and I want the data mirrored. If one drive fails, I can replace it without losing my data.
  • Volume Management – I have two large drives, but I want it partitioned dynamically. I don’t just want a great big dumping ground. I want separate locations for music, video, pictures, etc. I don’t just want to partition these drives and have the sizes set in stone. I want to be able to re-size them as need fits.
  • Serve files to Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. This generally means I want to be able to run something like Samba and NFS so that other computers can “see” my shares.
  • Users – I want to be able to have users set up with different permissions.

So, with that in mind, what open source software can we find that will fit the bill? There is more than just vanilla Linux out there. There are a few projects that make NAS like software. Lets look at those first.

  1. Openfiler – I had missed this before when looking, but it looks to have all of the required items.
  2. FreeNAS – I have wanted to try this for awhile, but the volume management has been in beta. I can’t tell for sure if this is still the case or not. It is also¬†BSD based which I am less familiar.
  3. NasLite – This isn’t open source, so I am not considering it, but it does seem inexpensive.
  4. Roll Your Own – This would take a linux distro and add or configure the pieces to create a NAS

I would urge you to look into Openfiler or FreeNAS. For this series, it would be pretty short if we used one of them, so we are going to roll our own 🙂 (I may get to trying and reporting on those others at a different time) Also, if you decide you want to add some other software to those such as a UPnP or iTunes or MythTV or CVS server it is more difficult, or not possible.

19586So, we need a linux distro. You really could pick any linux distribution you want, but for this series, I am going to use Ubuntu. I used to use Gentoo (for several years), but I find Ubuntu a little easier now, and have switched to using it. Depending on your hardware, you may want to consider their server edition without a desktop, but I am going to install the desktop version. Why? Well, I find it easier to have multiple terminals open I can look at, a web browser to Google what the heck just went wrong, and to check email where I sometimes save notes to myself. If you think I am nuts, go ahead with the server version. You will save yourself some CPU cycles not having Gnome running. I will try to base this series entirely on the command line, so it shouldn’t matter.

I am not going to cover installing Ubuntu. It is dead simple. If you would like some documentation, Ubuntu has good documentation on installing their software, so I wont try to duplicate it.

Go ahead, install Ubuntu onto the OS drive you have, and next time we will look at Linux Software RAID as a way to provide some data redundancy with the other two drives.

Series NavigationBuilding a NASSetting up Linux Software Raid