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.

O.

2 comments:

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:
http://omasse.blogspot.com/2008/08/building-cheap-nas-for-esx-using.html