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idea I had, NAS using an old notebook


DigitalManiak
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I was thinking the other day, I have an old Dell notebook (PM 1.4ghz/1gb ram) and had an idea to turn it into a NAS server, I've heard about FreeNAS but I've never played with it. If I picked up a couple of cheap 1tb HDD's and USB enclosures wouldn't that make a pretty lightweight NAS server? Could FreeNAS do soft RAID over USB? Is there something better than FreeNAS? or am I just wasting my time and I should just build a NAS server out of my old P4 1.7?

thx in advance

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the software RAID in Freenas is very very weak and im not sure that they even detect USB attached drives. Every time that i have used FreeNAS it only detected IDE, SATA and SCSI drives. You might have been better off saving some $ on those TB drives and gotten a cheap MoBO to throw into that old box that would make a better NAS/SAN device.

Also getting a cheap RAID card would help out the situation much better than using FreeNAS's weak RAID software

Consult the episode where Matt and Darren build a cheap white box for VMware. All the hardware principals are the same for VMware and for FreeNAS

Consult here http://www.hak5.org/episodes/episode-519

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Okay, like I said it was an idea, I have a similar setup with an Inspiron that has a shattered LCD using it as a TVersity Server for my Xbox360. I could just upgrade my Ubuntu box to something a little faster and use that mobo, it has SATA, it's 1.5 but still it should see 1tb drives.

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I wouldn't worry about RAID if you're using a laptop, but there's no reason you couldn't use the laptop as a NAS. If you use the internal drive and/or external 1.8"/2.5" drives, they'll be slower but you'll use less power (no extra wall warts) and it'll be more compact and if that battery still works, it'll have a battery backup. If you want more speed, you can use a PCMCIA/CardBus (depending on the laptop's age) SATA card.

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I wouldn't worry about RAID if you're using a laptop, but there's no reason you couldn't use the laptop as a NAS. If you use the internal drive and/or external 1.8"/2.5" drives, they'll be slower but you'll use less power (no extra wall warts) and it'll be more compact and if that battery still works, it'll have a battery backup. If you want more speed, you can use a PCMCIA/CardBus (depending on the laptop's age) SATA card.

a laptop that has a SATA PC card "should" be seen by freeNAS because it creates a virtual IDE port that the motherboard detects but Moonlit is correct about the built in battery backup feature of using a laptop as a NAS

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my interest in putting RAID on this was for data protection, not speed, so I'm not concerned if its slow, I may look into getting a eSata Cardbus card then.

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My setup for 'NAS':

Everex StepNote 1500V - 512 MB RAM - Built-in Ethernet card

Ubuntu Server 9.04

External USB 3.5" HDD

I use sshfs to map from the OpenSUSE box to the laptop.

Hope it helps to develop your 'idea'.

:)

BTW, I never played with FreeNAS so I don't know how it compares to Ubuntu Server.

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thx for the input guys, I think I may swap laptops and use the latitude for my TVersity server and my Inspiron for a NAS b/c it has an express card slot. I'm gonna order a eSATA express card & two eSATA drive bays. I have a couple of small matching SATA drives to experiment with. I don't believe cooling will be too much of an issue, I use a wire rack to hold my equpment and it's directly below an a/c vent and both notebooks have new fans in them with fresh thermal grease. However if there's something else I could do to improve the cooling, I'm open to suggestions.

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eh, the a/c barely works in this house, and it's about 5' from the actual register anyway so I don't think that'll be a problem, never has been in the past even with bigger servers, like the old dual PIII monster that used to be there lol.

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I was thinking the other day, I have an old Dell notebook (PM 1.4ghz/1gb ram) and had an idea to turn it into a NAS server, I've heard about FreeNAS but I've never played with it. If I picked up a couple of cheap 1tb HDD's and USB enclosures wouldn't that make a pretty lightweight NAS server? Could FreeNAS do soft RAID over USB? Is there something better than FreeNAS? or am I just wasting my time and I should just build a NAS server out of my old P4 1.7?

thx in advance

What do you want to use your NAS for? Have you taken a look at VortexBox? If you want to use your NAS for a media server that's the Linux distro you should use.

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What do you want to use your NAS for? Have you taken a look at VortexBox? If you want to use your NAS for a media server that's the Linux distro you should use.

Thnx for that distro. Looks interesting, I will check it out also. I just skimmed over their website - it is GPL v3.0 so truly FOSS :D

BatteryShock

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never heard of it, but wth I'll give it a shot, if it supports more codecs than TVersity then I'd be a happy camper, I have some media files that I've "obtained" that wont play well on TVersity (if at all) but they play fine if I copy them to a flash drive and play them on my WDTV box.

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never heard of it, but wth I'll give it a shot, if it supports more codecs than TVersity then I'd be a happy camper, I have some media files that I've "obtained" that wont play well on TVersity (if at all) but they play fine if I copy them to a flash drive and play them on my WDTV box.

VortexBox is a NAS. It's used for storing media. It will auto rip CDs for you and do other media storage functions. If you want a player use XBMC. It runs on any platform and will play anything.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I was thinking the other day, I have an old Dell notebook (PM 1.4ghz/1gb ram) and had an idea to turn it into a NAS server, I've heard about FreeNAS but I've never played with it. If I picked up a couple of cheap 1tb HDD's and USB enclosures wouldn't that make a pretty lightweight NAS server? Could FreeNAS do soft RAID over USB? Is there something better than FreeNAS? or am I just wasting my time and I should just build a NAS server out of my old P4 1.7?

thx in advance

FreeNAS is good and as it is based upon FreeBSD it does support all the GEOM soft raid methods... however I would avoid using those and go for FreeNAS 0.7RC1, this comes with ZFS support, which is Sun's new Zettabyte filing system (look it up), but basically you can make expandable and mixed raid's with any level of disk parity redundancy you like along with hot spare / mirroring also. The bonus of ZFS is that all of your data is checksummed live in the filing system, so you can be aware of hdd problems/failures before they happen... + you can do ZFS snapshots which are "time machine" like...

But the only problem you may find is that zfs in FreeNAS is old, so it requires some kernel tweaking (especially if you only have 1gb ram), another consideration is that as you are using a single USB bus (in a notebook) that has a theoretical maximum of 580mbit or whatever... you are not going to get the best performance possible as this is your bottleneck... great for storing music and movies, bad for video editing / multiple-user NAS systems.

=) hope this helps.

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  • 1 month later...

i have a tone of cf-51's with no hd ( the bay cost +$100 which makes the laptops useless/unsaleable ). i was thinking about doing something similar but... laptops ( unless newer ) have 100m connection no gigabit..so that makes it not a prime canidate for freenas in my eyes.. and yes i have gotten freenas to see USB drives on alot of desktops. i have not tried it on a laptop board but i would think it would still reconize the usb depending how old the laptop is anyways..

but heres a good idea if u want a freenas box/rigged server. sale your laptop for $75 on craigslist and buy a ITX board/cpu combo and a psu board for it.. it shouldnt run you more than $100 if that newegg last week had some cpu/mobo with a 1.6ghz atom for like $56 or so.. that with a $20-$50 psu ( yes itx can use a normal psu and even fit in most standard cases too ). so you still have a cheap freenas box. throw all the parts in a milk crate with some 120mm fans zip tied on the sides and your set.. or get a cheapo case that comes with the psu.. just a thought also most peope have ram laying around and freenas doesnt take alot i used 512mb ddr with an itx and installed freenas onto a memcard and used the 3 sata powers on the board for jbohd and the 3 usbs on the back for 6 hd in total.. took like 1hr to set it all up and under 100$ ( +hds )

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I've got Freenas running on an old Dell Cpx 500Mhz. Using just the 40gb internal drive. Just a convient method so I backup files and easily access them from the VPN.

I turned on the web portal thinking I finally put the Sony Bravia internet link to use and watch movies without hooking up the laptop only to find Sony removed the application. Damn them.

Anyway, for featherweight use it works for me.

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