I’ve recently put together a small computer to act as a simple SOHO NAS. I’ve received a few questions about it, so I thought I should put up a quick blog about what I’d done.
The hardware is as follows:
- CiT S003B case with built in 300W PSU
- Gigabyte GA-D525-TUD Mini-ITX motherboard
- Dual core 1.8Ghz Intel Atom D525 processor (built in)
- 2Gb of generic DDR3 RAM
- 1x 4Gb Compact Flash (200x) card mounted on a CF-IDE adapter to act as a boot drive
- 2x Samsung 320Gb 2.5″ hard drives
- 1x Samsung 2Tb Spinpoint F4 3.5″ hard drive
I chose an Atom CPU for the reduced power usage, as this machine is intended to run continually. The solid state (of sorts) boot drive allows the system to operate without spinning up the mechanical data drives. The two 320Gb drives are configured as RAID1 and are used to store important documents and backups; I chose the 2.5″ size because of power usage and noise level, and also because they fit in the case and were available for a good price (sometimes practicality wins). The 2Tb drive is for larger files that are essentially transient, so no need for RAID protection.
The software setup is more interesting. The base OS is Debian Lenny. Storage is configured as ext3 formatted lvm2 logical volumes, on top of Truecrypt encrypted mdadm software RAID arrays (320Gb RAID1, 2Tb JBOD). Mechanical disks are configured to power down when not in use. For simplicity, the boot drive doesn’t use RAID or encryption, and the other storage is scripted to mount at startup time.
I have scripted daily and weekly rsync+ssh backups from remote servers and local workstations, set up Samba file sharing, and built and installed the Transmission BitTorrent client to handle the occasional long running download. Future installs might include AFP file sharing for MacBook backups (though I’ll likely just use rsync+ssh again for this) and audio or DLNA streaming servers, but I’ve yet to investigate these options fully.
SpiderOak gives a final layer of backup protection, making sure all my important files are securely backed up to the cloud. In case of, you know, a local meteor strike or something.
The real question of course is, is it successful? I’m not convinced the case was a good choice; the PSU fan is very loud and I’m sure I could find something generally smaller. The software encryption layer kills disk performance (80 or 120Mb/second raw down to 20Mb/second) as the little Atom CPU struggles with the load. Other than that though, this box works well enough, is very flexible and was an interesting foray into Linux system administration. So from that perspective at least the answer is yes.
On the other hand, for less time, money, space and power I could be using an off the shelf unit such as a Synology which would have been almost as flexible.
But where’s the fun in that?
Update: I’ve posted some photos, hard drive temperatures and power usage figures.