View Full Version : FreeNAS

08-28-2007, 12:24 PM
Well, I finally got a few minutes last night and decided to put my old dual Pentium III 450 MHz relic to use as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. I grabbed a pile of drives I had laying around (3 of the better ones out of the pile, to be exact) and went to work putting the hardware together while the ISO image of the FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org)install CD downloaded. I picked FreeNAS because it looked like it would do what I wanted for the smallest footprint.

Once I set up the PC with a 30GB and a pair of 20GB drives, I popped the CD in the drive and let it boot up off of it. Installation was painless, and I had the NAS up and running within 10 minutes. Network setup was easy, and once that was done, all the other setup is via a web GUI remotely (the NAS box resides in my basement right next to the web server, so I relocated to my more comfortable confines of the office upstairs). Turns out, though, that the 2 20GB drives are both bad, so I couldn't try to make a RAID-1 array (mirroring) out of them, but I did manage to use the remainder of the 29 GB on the 30 GB disk and transfer files to it from both a Windows XP machine via SMB and from my webserver (Mandrake Linux) via NFS. Both worked flawlessly.

I did some basic file transfer tests, and the NAS is maintaining about 60Mbps over the wire (all 100Mbit wiring and switches - no gigabit yet). Not bad at all. The real test comes when I can set up a RAID array and see what that does to the CPU usage. My guess is it won't kill it, even though it's no speed demon by today's standards, but I'll have to run some tests once I get a couple more drives.

The cool thing about FreeNAS too is that it supports IDE/PATA, SATA, SCSI & USB drives. Pretty flexible. We'll see how it performs once it's fully up & running. Seems promising, though...

I'll update once I get the array up and do some more in-depth tests.

08-28-2007, 12:44 PM
Tom, welcome to the NAS world. I have a box full of old IDE 160GB drives that I setup with NASLite2, another think Linux NAS. NASLite isn't free, but its pretty cheap. The thing I liked about it was that it doesn't take up a hard drive to run on. NASLite gives you a CD image that you boot from, and then it uses a floppy diskette to store its configuration date. I use a hardware RAID card and I think I have 5 or 6 160G IDE drives in there in RAID-5 configuration. So far its run for about a year without any issues. The one big problem with it is that if I don't monitor the logs, I could have an error and lose data. This RAID card unfortunately doesn't have a hardware alarm like some of them do. I am using it to store DVD images of movies so that I can view them from a media center, so there is nothing really lost (other than rip time) if it were to crash.

08-28-2007, 01:02 PM

FreeNAS can do the same thing - boot off of the CD and store its config files on a floppy, or even a USB jump drive - one of the selling points for me (OpenFiler needed a 4GB partition for it's image - way too much for something like this). Seeing that I had scavenged the floppy for another machine, and don't have a jump drive (or an extra CF reader to use one of my smaller CF cards), I went with the full install on a drive. But it doesn't use the entire drive for the system - it allows the use of the rest of the drive's capacity for data - I think it only allocated a gig of space for the system, leaving about 28GB for data. Only catch is it can't be used as part of a RAID array. No problem for me...

I've only got a SCSI RAID card, so any arrays I'll be doing on this box will be software arrays. Can't justify the cost of SCSI drives yet...

Right now my websites are being backed up there nightly. Once I get the array up and performance looks good, I'll be doing my digital image backups to the NAS nightly.

It is a great way to use older hardware that's just sitting around...now I just need a few terabytes of space to throw at it. :D

08-28-2007, 01:12 PM
That's awesome. I have a box doing nothing with 110 gigs right now. It's in a spare bedroom collecting dust. Once I free up a couple of minutes, I'll have to take a look at this. Thanks for the info Tom. With 2 PCs and a laptop floating around the house, this will come in handy.

08-28-2007, 01:31 PM
I'm tellin' you Jay, it's a piece of cake to set up. I wasn't lying about the 10 minutes thing - if anything it was less time than that. It took longer to mount the drives in the case and download the ISO than it did to set it up.

08-28-2007, 02:37 PM
Yeah. I gotta download it, burn it, prep the other machine but cleaning the drives and making sure that there's no tidbits of data on there that i forgot i was storing. Then I'll be all set and I don't just install something. I've gotta play with every last option.

The 110 gigs that I've got are broken into my primary IDE of 30 gigs and my secondary of 80 so it's perfect to put the NAS OS on the 30 and dump data to the 80.

05-05-2008, 06:48 PM
quick question:

did you guys run software raid or setup hardware raid?

im working on gathering old IDE drives to set this up and wasnt sure on what to use. ideally software would be great, due to it being free, but im afraid of its reliability.

also thinking about a IDE to CF setup as the boot drive, or just run the LiveCD and Floppy. your thoughts?

05-05-2008, 07:05 PM
The only RAID I run is on my 2 Dell PowerEdge machines so it's not quite the same as gathering old drives. Mike or Tom might be able to tell you a little better about installing raid on an old machine like that.

05-05-2008, 09:39 PM
Generally speaking, hardware RAID is a better and more reliable solution. I wouldn't advise software RAID for anything mission critical. That said, I'll tell you what I'm using...

On my NASLite box, I'm using an Adaptec hardware RAID card. You can pick these up used on Ebay for pretty decent prices if you look around. The one I got supports 8 EIDE drives. The only negative is you don't have any way to get the normal software driver driven alarms, so you need to keep an eye on it. This is RAID5.

On my ReadyNAS NV+, I am using hardware RAID. This is a somewhat expensive solution in that it is about $900 for a unit with no drives. This is RAID5. In fact, I'm getting ready to buy another drive to expand it.

The Power Mac G5 I just bought came with the two internal drives striped... which I don't like, and eventually I'll remove RAID from them.

05-06-2008, 04:31 PM
one more question...

so i got it loaded, and had to install a NIC card since there is no onboard NIC....but its not seeing it, how do i get that to work in this OS?

05-06-2008, 04:36 PM
nevermind all set :)