Monday, August 30, 2010

Building a low-power FreeNAS Server: Part 1

I've been looking into having a small file server in my home, to store my photographs and iTunes library. The most important aspects of that file server are, in order:
  • Low power requirements: It is on 24/7 and I want don't want to consume too much power
  • RAID-1: I want my data to be protected in case the hard disk crashes
  • Low cost
  • Good performance
  • Expandability: Nice features such as a bittorrent client are a plus, I want to be able to experiment with DLNA in the future, so the "hackability" factor is important.
There were two contenders here that met most requirements: DLink's DNS-323 and Synology's DS-210j (Buffalo has some too but they are hard to find online). They each had a drawback: the DNS-323 is reported by many to be subpar in terms of performance, while the DS-210j is expensive.

So I decided to build my own NAS instead. It will most probably be based on FreeNAS, assuming it is hackable enough to my taste. The overall price is below the DS-210j, and I expect performance to be up to my expectations. Low power being paramount, I had to hand pick all the components and my next posts will detail what I've chosen, and how I'll be building it. I'll try to put some nice pictures.



labons said...

Is your nas support the iscsi?
I have a dns-323 at home but the iscsi feature is not installed.

I also have a esx 3.5 at home and I would like to connect these one to a iscsi NAS. Any suggestion?

Olivier S. Masse said...

iSCSI is supported by FreeNAS but it is not very useful for a media server do I never tried it.

As far as using iSCSI with ESX goes, I've successfully connected ESX to an OpenFiler box made from scrap parts a few years ago - it worked, but I'm not sure if OpenFiler is still under development. A small blog post on that subject is available here: