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NAS

From Organic Design
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This page has been created to serve as an entry point for discussing Network-Attached-Storage (NAS) options for home and small business use. In the context of the OD work, we want a cost-effective way to add NAS capabilities to any LAN on a box that runs the OD server package, for running platform LANs for instance.

There are a number of dedicated hardware options out there, which are devices with between one and five hard drive bays that can be plugged into any LAN as a standalone device with a web interface for managing access. Depending on the price they can have options like dual Gigabit ethernet and eSATA connections and offer various types of RAID configurations through the web interface. See the NAS-central wiki for an overview of vendors with dedicated devices.

The problem with these dedicated devices is that they are expensive and use proprietary software for hard drive administration. At the time of writing (July 2009), a four-bay device that allows a RAID 5 configuration will cost around NZ$1200 - without hard drives! Add three 1.5TB drives for $750 and you're just under $2000.

So we need to look at options using off-the-shelf components that can run the organic design server package for administration. This also results in other benefits such as being able to run an IMAP email server, firewall and local wiki on the same box, which would be impossible or at least very difficult in the locked down dedicated NAS units. We are currently developing a web interface based on RecordAdmin to manage users and groups as well as shared files, so we can just use that instead of proprietary web interfaces.

Contents

Requirements

First, let's look at what our NAS solution needs to fulfil:

  • Quiet
  • Low power consumption
  • High transfer speeds (1GB ethernet or eSATA options)
  • Compact case
  • Using off-the-shelf components
  • Spec to run OD server

Options

MicroATX system

The best option for a compact and quiet case is to use a MicroATX form factor case which can fit 3x 3.5" drives, which would allow us to set up RAID 5, which means that we can sustain the loss of one hard drive without losing data. 3x 3.5" 1.5 TB hard drives would give us 3TB of NAS storage - no video card, sound card or DVD burner are required.

Fit PC with USB enclosures

The other option is to use a Fit PC with attached USB enclosure to give us a "poor man's NAS" with very low power consumption, but no fancy RAID configuration and limited to to fast ethernet speeds (100Mbit/s). We will also need to have a USB enclosure for every drive attached. In the case of Fit PC 2, we could utilise full USB 2.0 speed due to the Gigabit ethernet connection.

Configuration

  • Shuttle case with low-consumption power supply (fanless?)
  • MicroATX motherboard
    • Integrated graphics
    • Gigabit Ethernet x2
    • 4x USB 2.0
    • eSATA
  • CPU
  • RAM 1GB
Total for MicroATX PC
  • 3x 1.5TB HD
Total for HDs
$750
Total for system

Links

MicroATX links

The GNU Project Debian GNU/Linux GNOME


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