Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FreeNAS : Project Part 1

What to do with lots of spare drive of all sizes, a couple of old Compaq slimline pIIIs. I had to find some use for them so I come up with a little project, a NAS server. I decided to play with FreeNAS, FreeNAS is a small, powerful, full-featured implementation of FreeBSD (Based  BSD Unix) as a network-attached storage device.

I download created the live CD which allows you to install on to a USB fob. I created the bootable USB fob and got the below system up and running. Which by the way was a DC who's main OS drive died. So after I had a play and though yeah this will be useful I needed to find a permanent home for a FreeNAS install.

I finished rebuilding the below PC I needed to get the data back off the other drives, It is also used to host a couple of VMs, like my old blog (hence the side link isn't working) So I hopefully I will have that back up and running in the next couple of days. But back to my other little project.




The first hurdle I needed to address was that the old PIIIs would not boot from a USB fob, and they didn't have a CD drive. So after some searching on Trademe I found the perfect solution. The first part to this solution was the USB CF card reader, I could create, install and fiddle with the CF card all from my XP VM from inside of MAC OSX. With this I was able to do the install from the live FreeNAS CD, and test the bootiung off the CF card. The next more common item was the CF to IDE adapter (Once again TradeMe), this allows a CF card to be treated as a normal IDE harddrive.

So after I had confirmed that the CF card booted on the VM image I installed it as the first IDE drive in the Compag PIII3 and switched it on. I worked like a charm. The old PC treat the CF/IDE as a bootable harddrive and FreeNAS started up and I had a functioning FreeNAS server.

I then added a couple of drives and set about configuring FreeNAS.


 USB / CF reader & CFtoIDE adapter

 CFtoIDE adpater and harddrives in the old PIII

Now it took me a while to get my head around FreeNAS, its simple once you know how . So heres the basics.

Once you have configured the IP address and have it on the network (all done via the physical interface, keyboard screen) you then use the web admin interface to do everything else.

Once logged in you have to configure the drives. The steps to do this are,
Add the disks, this makes FreeNAS aware of the drives,
Mount the drives, this makes the drives usable.
Confgiure either AFP or CIFS/SMB to access the FreeNAS across the nextwork this is done by enabling the service. Once that is done you then create shares to the data you want available.

I spent lots of time play with the options and plan to add another drive to look at the software RAID5 features. But so far very impressed with the easy of use and capabilities.

FreeNAS status showing the two attached drives.
So if you have an old PC lying around and some drive a little spare time go make a cheap storage solution.

Great pick me up for the day

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old New toy : Headless Powerbook G4

Well my journey to the world of only MAC is now ... well nearly complete. On Saturday night i spotted a Powerbook g4 laptop for sale on Trademe. It didn't have a screen, this was perfect as i was looking for a cheap mac mini or similar to run as the file server backup server for the macs we have.

I was lucky enough to win, as a very reasonable $275.

Once it showed up the first thing to do was install leopard so I could take advantage of Leopards TimeMachine backups and the TimeCapsule I have.

This was more troublesome than I though it was going to be. Since it didn't have a screen and I was using an external monitor. Everything the Leopard install started it treated it as a two monitor setup with the main dialog boxes for the install showing on the missing screen which was there and I couldnt continue with the install. After a lot of Google searches and finding nothing I decide to try this.

Have the monitor plugged in while starting the install, once it got to the point that it required input I unplugged the monitor and waited for 30seconds then plugged it back in. The leopard install defaulted to dual monitors in mirrored mode.... phew I could then continue with the install. Leopard successfully installed, even with only 512MB ram (I plan to upgrade it to 1GB once find some cheap ram)

I am now in the process of making this the file server and backup server.
I now have all my data on a external drive attached to the headless powerbook, this is then backed up via TimeMachine to the TimeCapsule, this covers any local disk failures.  I have also joined Mozy and the whole machine is also (well starting to be will take a while to upload 160GB) backup up to the "cloud"

This covers local drive failure of the external drive / laptop and the online backup covers fire/theft... natural disasters.

The data that is backed up is mainly digital photos, artwork and documents. I have decided at this stage not to upload my itunes music. I will wait to make sure I get all the other data uploaded first.

That 160Gb is only my data, I have to also do my wifes data which is another 200GB.
But for $5 a month per device / umlimited space is cheap piece of mind.

So here are some shots of the old/new wonder headless lappy.

Processor Speed: 1.33 GHz
Maximum RAM: 1.0 GB (Lower max Ram due to lower Ram slot no longer functioning)
Video Card: ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM.
2nd Display Resolution: up to 2048x1536
Hard Drive: 120 GB (5400 RPM)
Int. HD Interface: Ultra ATA/100
Optical Drive: 8X "Combo Drive" capable of reading DVD at 8X, writing CD-R at 24X, writing CD-RW at 16X, and reading CD-ROM at 24X.
Modem: 56k v.92
Ethernet: 10/100/1000Base-T
Ports: Two USB 2.0 ports + One Firewire "400" port and one Firewire "800" port
Expansion Slots: Type I/II PC Card

Not a bad little mac for the price :)