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Thread: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

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    Almost Ex-HEXUS Staff Jonatron's Avatar
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    Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Recently I decided I should probably backup my PC properly, after a hard drive died. I had a PC3500G (small low power VIA c7) motherboard lying around, and 2x1TB and 1x500GB HDs, so I thought I could bodge a NAS together from it.

    The PC3500G only has 2 SATA ports, so I grabbed a bargain RocketRAID 640 off ebay. It didn't work with the PC3500G . So I swapped the motherboard with an ConRoe1333-DVI/H motherboard and Core2Duo E6750 I also had lying around (pc parts seem to accumulate easily, don't they?). It has 4 SATA ports so the RocketRAID 640 was rehomed in my brother's PC which just happened to have a RAID card die.

    The case I'm using is a really cheap nasty thing from eBuyer. It's only got 2 HD bays, so I found a 2 bay HD thing which was lying around (I don't even know where this came from), removed the optical drive bay, drilled a hole in the case, and screwed it in.

    You'll notice that the case fan has also been bodged on. This is because I've only got 1 fan that's the correct size, and it's still too loud for me even after 5V volt modding it. The PC3500G didn't have onboard gigabit ethernet, so when I was trying that out, there was a PCI-X gigabit ethernet card in a PCI slot, PCI-Ex4 RAID card in a PCI-Ex16 slot, and combined with the other bodges it looked ridiculous.

    Because the hard drives are different sizes I couldn't really do RAID. A bit of googling revealed unRAID, greyhole, flexraid and windows home server drive extender which all let you pool HDs and have redundancy, like RAID but not. unRAID is only free for 3 hard drives, and I want to add a fourth soon, replacing the 500GB with 2x1.5TB. Greyhole and flexraid I tried, but they were too lacking in documentation so I gave up with them. You can download a 30 day trial of windows home server from microsoft, which I did. And after an extremely long install with a billion reboots, it's suprisingly really easy to use and works well. It automatically combined my drives into 1, and turning on folder duplication is one click.

    I've underclocked the E6750 to about 1.8GHz, and now the system isn't using up much more power than the PC3500G. At idle, after the hard drives have spun down, it's only using about 55W, which isn't bad.

    Was it worth the effort? I probably should have just added the drives to my desktop. But if you do want to bodge some sort of NAS thing together and you have differently sized HDs, at the moment WHS is probably the only choice. This will change soon as explained at: http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/02/21...rive-extender/

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    mush-mushroom b0redom's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    ZFS will let you use differently sized HDDs, so FreeNAS/FreeBSD/Opensolaris/Nexenta etc.....

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    Almost Ex-HEXUS Staff Jonatron's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by b0redom View Post
    ZFS will let you use differently sized HDDs, so FreeNAS/FreeBSD/Opensolaris/Nexenta etc.....
    I did consider ZFS, but I didn't really have the patience to learn it (The ZFS Administration guide is >250 pages). Also I think I read that you can't easily expand it. If someone makes a fancy GUI for it that makes it easy, maybe I'll try it.

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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    And the only proper/reliable ZFS implementation is on Solaris, which is even more hidious to administrate. LVM on Linux is fairly easy to get to grips with, and works very well with a hodgepodge of drives. Ubuntu can even boot from LVM now, thanks to Grub2, so the root (and/or /boot) volume can be on LVM as well.
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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by aidanjt View Post
    And the only proper/reliable ZFS implementation is on Solaris, which is even more hidious to administrate. LVM on Linux is fairly easy to get to grips with, and works very well with a hodgepodge of drives. Ubuntu can even boot from LVM now, thanks to Grub2, so the root (and/or /boot) volume can be on LVM as well.
    As he says, and mdadm gives a very flexible software RAID solution down to partition level, so you could RAID equal size partitions from different size drives.
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Given how easy it is to setup a basic samba server with recent flavours of Ubuntu (not tried Natty yet, but 10.10 was pretty simple) I'd struggle to recommend anything else based on your requirements.

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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonatron View Post
    <---snip

    But if you do want to bodge some sort of NAS thing together and you have differently sized HDs, at the moment WHS is probably the only choice. This will change soon as explained at: http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/02/21...rive-extender/
    Missed that last sentence!

    Emphatically NOT the case! A basic Linux system running a SAMBA server will perform as a NAS/home server perfectly adequately. Setting up might be a little trickier, but you are saving the cost of WHS, and are not constrained by the number of clients you have connected to it.
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    But if you do want to bodge some sort of NAS thing together and you have differently sized HDs, at the moment WHS is probably the only choice.
    For my home server I use amahi, which is sort of a bolt-on for a fedora install. Once its setup its all configured remotely and is designed to be quite user friendly.

    It incorporates Greyhole, which is the closest thing I have found to emulating what Drive Extender does.

    http://wiki.amahi.org/index.php/Main_Page

    http://wiki.amahi.org/index.php/Greyhole

    Second time recently I've posted about Amahi, (I dont work for them! although its free anyway), but I have found it perfect since reading that the new WHS wouldnt have DE.

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    Oh Crumbs.... Biscuit's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    subscribing to this thread - im looking for suggestions for my own little collection of servers

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    Admin team peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biscuit View Post
    subscribing to this thread - im looking for suggestions for my own little collection of servers
    Depends what it is you want to serve, but if it is pretty standard stuff, files, web, mail, DNS etc, a Linux installation will do all that for you. All you eed to do is choose a distribution (Ubuntu, Ferdora, or one of the many others) and put in a bit of work in learning the Linux OS.

    There have been a LOT of threads about Linux over the last 4 or 5 years, a search will turn them up, but once you get your head round the terminology and philosophy, it really isn't difficult.
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    cat /dev/null streetster's Avatar
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    Re: Bodging a NAS from pc parts lying about - how hard could it be?

    Just buy one of these, lob in a 2Tb drive, replace the stock OS with Debian, lob in another 2Tb when you feel the need (or immediately if you want to RAID1 it up).

    Now you have a tiny quiet box that can sit there and you can install apache/php/mysql/whatever you fancy and there is little-to-no hassle.

    Only real downside is there are only 2 slots for storage, but if you checkout the openstora.com forums you can checkout some guy who's added a SATA extender .

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