Dec 182013

In my recent FreeNAS blog post, I couldn’t access the FreeNAS web GUI with the Google Chrome Browser. Trying to access a page would present a 400 Bad Request - request header or cookie too large error.

After doing some research online, I found out that the way to solve this issue was to modify the nginx configuration to allow for large headers.

As this was FreeBSD, the configuration file for nginx was located at /etc/local/nginx/nginx.conf. In a Linux distribution, the file would likely be located in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
In that file, we need to add this line within the server stanza.
large_client_header_buffers 4 16k;

I’ve modified my nginx.conf file so now it look like this –

server {
server_name localhost;

large_client_header_buffers 4 16k;

After modifying the configuration file, nginx needs to be restarted.
On FreeBSD, the command to restart nginx is /usr/local/etc/rc.d/nginx restart
On Linux, the command varies by distribution, but in general would be something like /etc/init.d/nginx restart

After restarting nginx, I was able to access the FreeNAS web interface with the Chrome Browser

Dec 122013

In this part, I’m going to go through FreeNAS 9.1.1 from installation to setup and use of the NAS.

FreeNAS has the easiest installation of them all, coming in an .xz file all I had to do was write the image file to the install media – which in this case is a USB thumbstick.

To write the image on a Linux system I used dd and xzcat

# xzcat FreeNAS-9.1.1-RELEASE-x64.img.xz | dd of=/dev/sdh bs=64k

Booting the NAS from the USB stick brings up FreeNAS with it’s web interface running on the normal http port.

Booting after installation took around 8 minutes, though I’m not sure whether it’s my hardware or the USB stick that’s causing the delay, but any bootups after the first one only took around 3-4 minutes.
Keeping in mind though that I had not customised FreeNAS yet, so boot times may be improved by tweaking the settings.

After the NAS booted up, I could access the NAS on it’s web interface using FireFox. Chrome wouldn’t play nice though.

The web interface is very smooth and quick to respond. All configuration can be done from the web interface, from storage operations to networking operations to showing system data. It’s all neatly organised in the menu, with some quick shortcuts along the top. Each function that is opened is opened as a tab, allowing you to flick between tasks quickly and efficiently, without having to navigate through the menu again.

You can see the Reporting, Settings, and System Information Tabs open here

First things first, I had to correct my timezone.
Clicking on the Settings tab at the top provided me some further tabs, as well as the following settings

Updating my Timezone was a simple matter of picking the right one and clicking on save.

Clicking on Reporting shows me a nice graphical overview with some history on the system.

This will allow me to keep an eye on the System to see how well it’s doing under the load of FreeNAS.

I also needed to configure my Default Gateway and Nameserver settings. The DHCP client mustn’t have gotten the settings from my DHCP server.
This is also easily done, just by clicking on the Network button at the top, which brings up the Global Configuration

Next up, I’ll need to actually assign my hard drives to a Volume, or Pool depending on whether I use UFS or ZFS.

Creating Volumes or Pools which are used to store files on was very easy. Clicking on Storage and then ZFS Volume Manager allowed me to create a new volume with the 2 500 GB hard drives that I had in my NAS, setting them up as RAID1 or Mirror configuration.

Once I’ve gone through the volume manager, I can see my new Pool sitting there waiting for me to dump some data onto it

I had other options too – I could have used only 1 drive for my NAS, or had 2 separate devices within that pool created.

Doing something fatal like detaching the volume painted the screen a bright red, instantly making me aware of the dangers of the action.

Don’t think I’ll be doing that just yet.

Volumes are mounted under the /mnt/ directory, so my just created RAID1 volume can be found under /mnt/RAID1/

It takes just a few clicks to create datasets. Datasets allow you to treat a subdirectory like a filesystem with access controls, compression, and snapshot ability.

Clicking on Storage at the top, then selecting RAID1, and then clicking the New Dataset button down the bottom brings up the new dataset window.
Enter in a name, click add dataset, and it’s created !

Now, time to setup some shares so I can dump data onto the NAS.
Clicking on the big Sharing button brings up the tabs for Apple (AFP), UNIX (NFS), and Windows (CIFS).
Since I don’t have any Apple or Windows devices, I’ll start setting up a NFS share.
Clicking on the UNIX (NFS) tab gives me a Add Unix (NFS) Share button.
Easy enough.

Clicking on that button brings up this window, allowing me to configure the settings for my new NFS share.

Setting up an authorised network, and the path that the share pointed to was easy enough.
After creating the new NFS share, it even asked me if I wanted to enable the NFS service.

After enabling it, I was able to poke it to see if it existed with the showmount command from another computer.

# showmount -e
Export list for

As you can see, poking it showed that it was available.
I can now mount the NFS share with a simple command from any linux pc –
mount /mnt/point

With it mounted, I can now copy and paste files to the NAS !

In my next post, I’ll have a look at FreeNAS’s plugins.

Dec 042013

I’ve been wanting to obtain a NAS of some sort for a while now, and after seeing some of the abilities of the Synology NAS enclosures, I was set on just buying one of the Synologies.
However, after looking at the cost of the 4 bay NAS, I wasn’t so sure I could shell out for one.

So I’ve decided to build my own NAS rather than buying a pre-built one.
The pros of building my own is that it’s more flexible than the pre-built ones, and plus I also get some experience with some more Linux Distros on the side !

I’m using some old recycled hardware to save on money as I wanted to shell out as little as possible.
I’ve managed to scrounge up some old old parts to host this NAS on –

  • Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe Motherboard
  • AMD Athlon64 3200
  • 4GB DDR400 Ram
  • Generic Case
  • thermaltake 430W Power Supply
  • A few 500GB Hard drives

Not exactly the latest and greatest, but it should do for the purposes of serving up a few files and whatnot.

The first thing I need to do after I’ve got my hardware, is to choose a Distro.
I’m going to try three distros before I settle on one to actually use as my NAS, just so I can get a feel of the pros and cons of the different distros.
The three that I’ve chosen for this particular project are –

All 3 distros are free to download, so there’s no cost involved in obtaining the distro itself. Support can be bought for FreeNAS and OpenFiler.

A quick rundown on the features, pros, and cons that I’ve found of these 3 Distros so far –



  • Replication – File system snapshots
  • Data Protection – Raid Z/Z2/Z3
  • Backup Services – Windows Backup / Apple Time Machine / Linux rsync / BSD Life-Preserver
  • Encryption – Volume level encryption
  • File Sharing – CIFS/NFS/AFP/FTP/iSCSI + more
  • Web Interface – No CLI required
  • Plugins – Add functionality easily


  • Slick Web Interface
  • Lots of plugins available


  • Requires dedicated install drive
  • Higher Hardware Requirements
  • Not many plugins out of the box



  • Based on Debian – Has all the normal Linux Features – apt/cron/avahi/Volume Management
  • Web Interface – No CLI Required
  • Plugins – Add functionality easily
  • Link Aggregation – Make two NICs act like one
  • Wake On Lan – Wake up the computer remotely
  • Monitoring – The normal Linux monitoring abilities – Syslog/Watchdog/SMART/SNMP/etc.
  • Services – The normal Linux services – SSH/FTP/TFTP/NFS/CIFS/rsync


  • Nice Web Interface
  • Standard Debian shell and commands
  • Low System Requirements


  • Requires dedicated install drive
  • Not Many Plugins out of the box



  • RAID support – Supports Hardware and Software RAID
  • Clustering – Supports clusters with block level replication
  • Multipath I/O – supports Multipathing
  • Based on the Linux 2.6 kernel
  • Scalable – Can do online resizing of filesystems and volumes
  • Volume Sharing – iSCSI / Fibre Channel
  • File Sharing – CIFS/NFS/HTTP DAV/FTP/rsync
  • Web Interface – No CLI Required
  • Quotas – User and Group quotas
  • Based on rPath Linux


  • Nice Web Interface
  • Doesn’t require dedicated install media
  • Low System Requirements


  • Not many plugins out of the box

In the next part of this series, I will explore FreeNAS and see what it can do for me.
Originally I was having some issue installing it, so hopefully this time around I can get it to install !

Stay tuned for more 🙂