• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Small linux box for NAS unit?

Casey

Veteran Member
Joined
May 31, 2016
Messages
608
Location
Fairfield, Ohio
An NAS seems like a good idea, but even a cheap housing (no drives) is expensive. It occurred to me to wonder if an inexpensive Linux box would work well in that capacity, as long as I could keep the hard drives easily available to all the computers on the network. That should cost me less money than a base NAS.

Has anyone tried something like that?
 

commodorejohn

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Messages
3,168
Location
California, USA
Yeah, that's what I've got going at home - a basic board with an i3 and a decent bit of RAM, three HDDs in a (software) RAID5 arrangement for storage, and a small SSD with a Devuan install for the OS partition. Configuring the shares took a little finagling, but I've got NFS access on my daily driver and Samba sharing for access from Windows. Works like a charm.
 

asmpgm

Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Long Island, NY, U.S.A.
My first NAS was built on the cheap from an old PC - an AMD Phenom 9150e Quad-Core with 8GB of RAM.
It was initially built as an experiment to try the FreeNAS O/S, but it worked so well that I left it together. It's been running for years.
The FreeNAS O/S boots from a USB stick so the HDDs are all storage. Love it.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,784
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Yup--and Xubuntu is Ubuntu with XFCE4 desktop. Under the cover, they're all Debian kernels.

If you want a small Linux, there's Puppy and DSL (don't know if either are still current).
 

tipc

Banned
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Messages
2,760
Location
Principality of Xeon W-2140B the Great State of Ce
Puppy doesn't support a lot of hardware it seems. I ran it from a thumb drive on my Asus x205t and couldn't get internet no matter what I tried. It's one of the few distros, I think only, that I tried that would actually boot the thing, being it had that asked 32 bit uefi on a 64 bit chip. If the os doesn't have a certain file inside the boot folder which is inside the efi folder, it ain't happening. bootia32.efi iirc.

Clonezilla must have worked also now that I think of it.
 

commodorejohn

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Messages
3,168
Location
California, USA
How small does "small" need to be here? I'm running a full-fledged desktop Devuan install quite comfortably on a 32GB SSD, and I'm certain I could get a basic headless server-only setup done in ~8GB or less. Which is, I admit, more than mildly obscene, but for the purposes of a NAS which (I assume) is going to have a couple TB of storage space all told, it doesn't seem that wild.
 

GiGaBiTe

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
2,778
Location
Austin, Texas
Puppy doesn't support a lot of hardware it seems. I ran it from a thumb drive on my Asus x205t and couldn't get internet no matter what I tried..

Because it has a Broadcom WLAN chip.

Broadcom has historically had zero support for Linux. Initial Linux drivers were community made by reverse engineering Windows drivers and dumping the firmware from the driver and ROM on the WLAN cards. Another solution was NDISWrapper, which emulated enough of the Windows XP wireless driver API to use Windows XP drivers on Linux. Since all of this required dealing with proprietary, copyrighted code, most Linux distros did not make it available in their package repositories for obvious reasons. This is why the majority of Broadcom chips, both wired and wireless do not work on Linux.

Broadcom eventually did release a proper Linux driver, but it was restricted much like Nvidia's proprietary driver. They later released a fully open source driver, but it still does not cover all Broadcom products, especially old ones or recent ones.

When buying a laptop, it's best to make sure the laptop does not use any Broadcom hardware. Stick with Intel or Realtek, the latter of which makes drivers available for quite literally everything. The alternative is to use a USB wifi dongle, and if necessary, an ethernet wired dongle.
 

tipc

Banned
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Messages
2,760
Location
Principality of Xeon W-2140B the Great State of Ce
It just occurred to me to try a usb wifi solution as I was reading through your (GB) post. The reality is those sub notebooks are just too small for my eyes, so it's going to find another home before long. Anything I use these days has to be at a minimum 13" diagonally. Too old for tiny screens. That's the reason I sold off all my compact Macs. I have a novel to write, and would be further along then I am if I had a compact unit I could keep on the end table, and pick up and move as needed. Ok a laptop is that and more. I just remember having loads of fun years ago with, for want of a better term, creative writing projects. I'd love to figure out a way to cobble together an Atari ST and an acceptably sized monitor into a case that I could pick up. Won't be as portable as a compact Mac. But you can't have everything. When you're advanced in years.
 

rlauzon

Experienced Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2018
Messages
146
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
I picked up this 8 slot cluster "rack" for my Pi.

I used a Pi4 4GB, a USB3 hub and 4 2.5" hard drives (with SATA to USB3 cables) to create a server for my files and media. Standard Raspian install.

Since I only run Linux at home, I only have SSH and NFS set up on it.
 

commodorejohn

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Messages
3,168
Location
California, USA
I hope USB HDD controllers have gotten less dumb since the last time I was using one on the regular...it kept the drive spinning at full throttle the whole time and wore the thing right out. Luckily I had enough time to copy everything important off first.
 

GiGaBiTe

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
2,778
Location
Austin, Texas
I hope USB HDD controllers have gotten less dumb since the last time I was using one on the regular...it kept the drive spinning at full throttle the whole time and wore the thing right out. Luckily I had enough time to copy everything important off first.

Powering drives externally can be a problem because many drives rely on being cooled by airflow inside a PC. Older Seagate drives especially tend to run very hot and can result in thermal death of the drive if not actively cooled with a fan blowing on them. I've had several drives die this way.

USB HDD controllers are just as dumb today as they were 10 years ago, with the exception of JMicron IDE controllers, which are the best on the market. They allow basically full functionality of IDE drives over USB.
 

Casey

Veteran Member
Joined
May 31, 2016
Messages
608
Location
Fairfield, Ohio
It sounds like there are many options available. SmallNas sounds like a good call. It never occurred to me to use a USB drive as the system drive. :)

To answer a question: small is defined as small footprint & low cost. A mini tower microATX motherboard has 4 or 6 SATA ports on it, and even 4 one terabyte drives should do me nicely.

How hard would it be to interface this with older systems like Win98 or MS-DOS? Or would FTP be a better choice then? I don't have much experience with hooking up different versions of Windows in a network. I even have had trouble with Win7 & WinXP communicating.
 

commodorejohn

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Messages
3,168
Location
California, USA
Good question - SMB support goes back to Windows for Workgroups, but I have no idea how well modern Samba gets along with older OSes. FTP is always a good fallback, although it's more convenient to be able to map network shares directly to local mount points and have the whole thing be transparent to applications. I believe there's NFS support for DOS at least, but I've never played around with it.
 

Casey

Veteran Member
Joined
May 31, 2016
Messages
608
Location
Fairfield, Ohio
One idea I have idly toyed with is mounting local MS-DOS drives as network drives so I can scan them with modern AV software.
 
Top