Home NAS Project Using FreeNAS

Posted on Posted in GNU, The Cloud

FreeNAS 7 RC1

Home NAS Project

Few months ago i made out of an old PC a CCTV system, but i was keeping the recordings local to the computer. I decided to make a NAS server out of some semi-new hardware i had lying around.

 

At work I obesely have backups and have been running two Openfiler for 4 years now without any problems.

After some searching around and with recommendation from a twitter follower @FreeNAS i opted to give FreeNAS a try.

I want bore you with how i installed FreeNAS 7, you could find that info on 100’s of sited via (JFGI).

After installing all one needs to do is assign the interface to a network card, then ether assign ip address via DHCP, or most probable and highly recomended assign an ip address yourself. Once this setup os done, you can now put the case together is not already done and place the NAS in its final resting place, there is no need to have physical access to the NAS the rest of the configuration is all done via the web interface.

One benefit i have not said up till now is RAID. One industry standard when it comes to backups is redundancy, making sure that all data you backup on the one drive isent lost if the drive on the backup was to fail for what ever reason, and to over come this unforchonat enevatability is to configure a RAID. Now, one of the benefits of using the MB (Motherboard) i have, is it has onboard RAID controler but it only as 2 sata ports, meaning i have two options. One would be to install my two 500GB drives and configure RAID 0 (Stripe) making the two 500’s into one 1Tb drive, nice if i wanted more storage but for me i would have to configure RAID 1 (Mirroring), meaning i have have one drive to put data onto and other would also have the same data. iIn theory, meaning if one drive was to fail the other would still have all the data.

But, for thoes who dont have a motherboard with onboard RAID or dont have a PCI RAID controler FreeNAS is able to do the same job as the hardware but using software, thats why its called Software RAID. The only problem in using software RAID is it’s going to be using the motherborads hardware, so eating into your RAM and CPU, ok if you have it to spare but not always a good idea if you are running an old P4 with the min 256mb RAM.

So, i have a server with FreeNAS installed, RAID 1 setup. I then setup the ar0 disk the full 500GB size, created a mount point leaving the file system UFS. To make the new storage avalable to my CCTV server i opted for the iSCSI option, meaning after setting up the iSCSI Target on the NAS i would on the CCTV system just connect to the NAS using the MS iSCSI iniciator. This has the benefit of making the remote NAS look like a local drive the the server, then all i had to do was to set the recordings to save direct to the new drive.

This is as much as i wanted to do with this NAS, acheving my end result of having a remote storage of my CCTV Recordings, and a RAID 1 setup for redundancy.

But, this isn’t the end of what FreeNAS can offer. The one’s offered todate in verson 7 are:

 

FreeNAS 7RC1 Services

If you happen to have a spare PC laying around and you are tech savvy enough not to want to buy off the shelf NAS, a good option is to build your own NAS server. There are a few small time options but the big boys in open source NAS is FreeNAS and Openfiler, both of these are based on a variant of Unix.

– Pros

  • Being Unix it’s more robust, secure, and FREE.
  • Even a PC several years old its more than enough power to run both Openfiler or FreeNAS. FreeNAS requires 192MB of RAM as minimum for starting the Full platform. 256MB of RAM is the minimum required for upgrading the Embedded platform. Using advanced features like software RAID 0/1/5 and enabling lots of functions may need more RAM (512MB or more).
  • Flexible because it runs Unix so you can execute Unix commands and even run other Unix apps for additional capabilities.
  • Very high performance due to the low OS overheads.
  • Supports multiple network card bonding for increased performance with load balancing.
  • Its also easily scalable.

– Few Cons

  • It’s Unix which means it’s not user friendly with out web-interface, poorly documented apart from other tech users, and compatible with some hardware cant be assured.
  • Its also going to take a large footprint and possibly greater power consumption in relation to a small NAS box.

But me and others like me we tend to care less about looks or ease and look to the challenge and finding a use for our spare parts. Failing that, install onto a virtual environment, VMWare, parallels or Hyper-V and test away.

NAS Server Spec

  • Micro ATX PC Case – Room for 2 External Drives, and Room for 5 internal HDD
  • Geforce 6100SM-M Motherboard
  • AMD2 X2 2.1GHz CPU
  • 1x IDE 20GB HDD (For FreeNAS OS)
  • 2x 500GB SATA HDD
  • IDE DVD Drive
  • 2x 1GB RAM
  • IDE DVD Drive

TOP TIPS

  • If you downloaded files using BitTorrent, you may not be able to delete them via CIFS or FTP. Use the Quixplorer file Manager feature under the WebAdmin tools. It’s located under Advanced – File Manager, you need to login with an account that has the proper rights, such as the admin account.
  • Always backup your configuration. Very useful if you have problems after an upgrade. You can find it in the WebAdmin under System – Backup/Restore.
  • Start Simple. When configuring FreeNAS initially, use a system with one disk, one NIC, etc.. Have as few variables as possible. Once you get familiar configuring it, you will learn and know the details and how to get around certain issues.
  • Running a LiveCD system works just as well as an installed version. Just remember that your settings will be gone upon Shutdown. If you need to save it, save it to a USB drive or IDE CF card.
  • Getting a Disk up and running caused me the most amount of problems. Just remember you need to first Define a disk in Disks – Management, then Format the Disk in Disks – Format, finally Mount the Disk in Disks – Mount Point. Only after doing all this can you Share the disk via CIFS/SMB, FTP…