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Ginja_Ninja
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:38 pm    Post subject: NAS or DIY File Server. Your thoughts required. Reply with quote

Hello fellow gentoo users.
I am not sure if this topic is best suited here, if it is not feel free to move to a more appropriated forum.

I was wondering if i could pick the brains of more experienced inividuals to provide me with a more suited solution.
I have run gentoo for a couple of years now, but please treat me as a beginner. Although i may use it as more desktop OS it does'nt mean i know what i am doing.

I want to setup a network between a PC computer and a laptop. I have the age old problem of not being able to keep track of what files are more upto date than others as i work on multiple machines and copy a file locally and work on it. Obviously this causes multiple copies of files, each with subtle differences.

The solution:

This is were i would like your help.
In order to have a better setup i have decided its time to have a third unit in the middle of my computers to serve me with all of my and my families files.
The problem i have is i cant decide whether a purpose built NAS (Network attached storage) box is the way to go, or to build a file server.

At first i wanted to build a file server based on VIA's nano-itx form factor. A single disk setup that was as small as i could get.
It means that i can set it up hpw i would like, on a filesystem of my choosing and would be future proof for a very long time as all i would need todo is slam in a bigger HDD when the occasion requires it.

The issue i have with that is; although this seems like a great idea i can't help thinking its alot of wasted hardware, cpu cycles etc, for its purpose. Overkill if you will.
Obviously i could build a server from very old parts and save money but:
1. If i have another computer it has to be very small, space is extremely limited.
2. It needs to draw as little power as is possible as i plan to live in a house running entirely of solar panels in the near future.

So i decided to look at NAS. Most of the solutions i have looked at, limit you to certain filesystems, or HDD space, or the user restrictions are not strict enough.

The requirements:
1. As i have a laptop i intend to retrieve file remotely at times, so security is of paramount importance. Cant be over cautious. Mac address restrictions etc.
2. Very strict file user privileges. Read only, write etc.
3. Print server
4. Very quiet.
5. Support multiple OS, Windows, linux.
6. The ability to plug in a external usb HDD for file backup. (I decide i will back up this way so i only have to run one drive all the time and secondly i can unplug the backup device and put it in the cupboard.
7. 500GB storage. I need this storage for general files and for raw video capture.
8. Disk quota setup.

So really i need your help in deciding which is the better way togo. I need to make a decision soon and get on with it because once the storage is setup i can then put gentoo on my laptop and get on with some work.
Maybe you have had experiences with a similar issue.

Also your thoughts on the following would be greatly appreciated.
RSync.
Having the "/" on the file server. So all computers store all their files on the own user/disk quota on the file server.
How would the above work if i wanted to use my laptop away from home without a net connection
Filesystems: NFS ? smbFS or what about sshFS (Secure shell filesystem) ??
Hard drive encryption.

I know i am asking alot of questions but any pointer are greatly recieved.

Thanks again
Take Care
G_N
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antik
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:41 pm    Post subject: Re: NAS or DIY File Server. Your thoughts required. Reply with quote

http://www.freenas.org/
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Ginja_Ninja
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the quick response.
Unfortunatly, in a review i read that studied the freenas system, it said that the user control was an all of nothing affair. So it doesnt fit my requirements.

Thanks for your time though, its exactly the kind of thinking i am looking for.

Take Care
G_N
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jamiethehutt
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:59 pm    Post subject: Re: NAS or DIY File Server. Your thoughts required. Reply with quote

Try the Coda file system for your synchronization/security problems, I've never used it but if it lives up to half it's blurb it'll be pretty good.

MAC address restrictions aren't secure, it's trivial to spoof a MAC. Encryption with a good protocol is what you need for internet/wireless, try something like OpenVPN. If you've got a dynamic IP and want remote access get an account with DynDNS.

I think you want a file server. Mini-ITX are not bad, I've got a 1Ghz Epia-M, the small cases to cost significantly more though, I made my own case from wood. Use Samba to share files/printers with windows systems. Linux-linux communication has loads of powerful fast options but I've never found one that comes close to the ease of use that work groups have with windows (Thats when they work, of course..:P), anyway you probably want something like Coda. If you dont end up with Coda then NSF is quick, Samba client support is fine and SFTP is probably one of the easiest (with SSH fuse support) but it's encryption makes it slow for a LAN.

The customizable and flexibility of having your own file server makes it far better than just having NAS, I say that from experience: I used to have a 20Gb Snap Server (Second hand from work). There's also no reason you couldn't power down your server when your not using it...

If you live anywhere like here (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) ditch the idea of expensive inefficient solar power and get a wind turbine! :lol:

Hope some of that's useful, good luck!
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xglad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do a similar with an itx as well. As for multiple copies of the same file, all with differences, that cries out for subversion or similar.
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Ginja_Ninja
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Try the Coda file system for your synchronization/security problems, I've never used it but if it lives up to half it's blurb it'll be pretty good.

MAC address restrictions aren't secure, it's trivial to spoof a MAC. Encryption with a good protocol is what you need for internet/wireless, try something like OpenVPN. If you've got a dynamic IP and want remote access get an account with DynDNS.

I think you want a file server. Mini-ITX are not bad, I've got a 1Ghz Epia-M, the small cases to cost significantly more though, I made my own case from wood. Use Samba to share files/printers with windows systems. Linux-linux communication has loads of powerful fast options but I've never found one that comes close to the ease of use that work groups have with windows (Thats when they work, of course..:P), anyway you probably want something like Coda. If you dont end up with Coda then NSF is quick, Samba client support is fine and SFTP is probably one of the easiest (with SSH fuse support) but it's encryption makes it slow for a LAN.

The customizable and flexibility of having your own file server makes it far better than just having NAS, I say that from experience: I used to have a 20Gb Snap Server (Second hand from work). There's also no reason you couldn't power down your server when your not using it...

If you live anywhere like here (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) ditch the idea of expensive inefficient solar power and get a wind turbine! :lol:

Hope some of that's useful, good luck!


Thanks. That all sounds like spot on advice.

I am going to have to do some serious reading. Didnt realise there were quite thedegree of options.

Quote:

I do a similar with an itx as well. As for multiple copies of the same file, all with differences, that cries out for subversion or similar.


hmmmmmm do you mean something like http://subversion.tigris.org/ ?? Interesting idea.

/me goes off to ponder.

Thanks again all
Keep em coming people :)
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xglad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ginja_Ninja wrote:
hmmmmmm do you mean something like http://subversion.tigris.org/ ?? Interesting idea.

Exactly. We use it work for lots of stuff besides just source code (C++ and SQL for the most part). We use it for internal business documentation, spread sheets, and just about everything (including binary stuff) that is frequently revised. I happen to prefer subversion, but there are other solutions that do the same basic job.
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Ginja_Ninja
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firstly thanks for everyone thought on this.

As i say, i am in new waters with this, so getting my head around it all will take to reading and re-reading.

For reference though, i intend to run a nano-itx system with a SATA drive. I have taken serious consideration to you suggestion of a multidisk setup, but i would like the smallest unit possible. It also means that noise and power usage wont be an issue. I know they dont draw much but i intend on living in a house that runs purely on solar panels in the near future.

I also intend to run the OS off a Compact Flash Card / Secure Digital car or something similar, with the "/" directory on a 500 / 750 HDD.
Then i suppose that i setup up my users from there ie "/home/user1" and "/home/user2" then i suppose its the job of the laptop OS to look at the file server for its files.

Hmmm...there is still lots to think about, but i will keep this one brief for now and will reply again soon.

The laptop itself (i am hopeing) will run Gentoo linux. The computer will run a flavour of Windows (sorry but its not mine, i have to, lol)

Thanks again, and take care.
G_N
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marcion
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a good plan, if a your own white-box system is cheaper or not much more expensive, then you can always repurpose it, if later find that you do not need it any more.

You can also stick apache on it :P
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vputz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ginja, in your position I would SERIOUSLY consider a Linksys NSLU2 ($80 from NewEgg) and install one of the available linux distributions on it: http://www.unslung.org/. The NSLU2 (and friends) are tiny little devices that accept up to two USB-connected drives (if you're using it as a NAS, you hardly need superfast drive access) and with a Linux distribution can do... well, a helluva lot (run webservers, DHCP services, dynamic DNS, ssh, telnet, rsync... well... it IS a Linux distribution after all; you should be able to do just about anything a regular Linux distribution could do related to networking and file access, but you'll have to check for custom file systems etc).

Look around the unslung site and see what's available. Not positive about hard drive encryption, but it should be possible.

Heck of a lot cheaper than a micro-itx board, processor, enclosure, etc. And plus if you get bored you can just hork the drive off the NSLU2, plug it in to your computer's USB port, and write to the thing directly.

If I didn't have an old 2xp3/500 box connected to a failing 5x9GB SCSI array (with about 4 spare drives, lol... and there are a couple of more spacious drives too) I'd probably get one myself. They seem pretty darn versatile; I don't know about their current draw, but I don't imagine it's too much.

The one thing I'm not sure of is if there's any limitation on storage size, but I don't think it's a practical problem.
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Ginja_Ninja
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vputz wrote:
Ginja, in your position I would SERIOUSLY consider a Linksys NSLU2 ($80 from NewEgg) and install one of the available linux distributions on it: http://www.unslung.org/. The NSLU2 (and friends) are tiny little devices that accept up to two USB-connected drives (if you're using it as a NAS, you hardly need superfast drive access) and with a Linux distribution can do... well, a helluva lot (run webservers, DHCP services, dynamic DNS, ssh, telnet, rsync... well... it IS a Linux distribution after all; you should be able to do just about anything a regular Linux distribution could do related to networking and file access, but you'll have to check for custom file systems etc).

Look around the unslung site and see what's available. Not positive about hard drive encryption, but it should be possible.

Heck of a lot cheaper than a micro-itx board, processor, enclosure, etc. And plus if you get bored you can just hork the drive off the NSLU2, plug it in to your computer's USB port, and write to the thing directly.

If I didn't have an old 2xp3/500 box connected to a failing 5x9GB SCSI array (with about 4 spare drives, lol... and there are a couple of more spacious drives too) I'd probably get one myself. They seem pretty darn versatile; I don't know about their current draw, but I don't imagine it's too much.

The one thing I'm not sure of is if there's any limitation on storage size, but I don't think it's a practical problem.


/me seriously considers

Will look into these more, but i think i am right in saying that the maximum supported drive size is 250GB for each port. Which is alot of space dont get me wrong but with raw video capture from a digital camera its something to consider.

Thanks for the pointer though. Excellent work

/me wonders off to dig further.
hmmmmmmmmm
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vputz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Will look into these more, but i think i am right in saying that the maximum supported drive size is 250GB for each port. Which is alot of space dont get me wrong but with raw video capture from a digital camera its something to consider.


Could be right, though I'm not clear from the nslu2-linux website if there's guidance on upgrading to larger drives. Still, at the "what people are really using their slugs for" page, at least a few are claiming more...

Quote:

Unslung 5.5Beta on a 300GB Seagate, R83 removed.
...
Unslung 5.5 2 x Seagate Barracuda 400GB IDE disks 2 x Vantec USB2?/Firewire drive cases
...
The last slug (64MB RAM, memstick as / partition, compactflash as /home and 300GB Maxtor OneTouch? as /mp3 partition) has a GPS attached, logs its data and is used as an NTP server.
...
just got unslung 5.5 using a Maxtor OneTouch? II 300GB - which spins down as described.
...
Slug 1 : 2 x 300Go
...
cnczane, Westgonsin what:

one slug 266MHz mod before first power-on, unslung: two 300Gb Maxtor II OneTouch?
why: media server vision, was:

one 300Gb files
one 300Gb backup (RAID0? or rsync'd
...
400 Gb WD HDD
...


...so apparently people are using them with up to 400Gb drives, but you'd probably want to check the forums and ask if it could handle a 500Gb to be sure. You can also try to play RAID games for double the storage (2x250Gb, raid-0), but then you couldn't just pull the drives off and hook them directly to the laptop if you needed (well, there's probably a way; software raid is pretty flexible, but I don't know if it would work between systems.

Oh, and just for even more humor on the idea: evidently you can get them to sorta run Gentoo.

Now, having said all this, I've never even seen one of the devices in person, so take all this with a hefty grain of salt! But I figure it's worth exploring at least.
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