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 🙂


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