Network Attached Storage

Network Attached Storage 532283938896581I have an old Dell XPS that I am thinking of making into a file server. The computer currently has Windows XP SP2 installed. The fan in this machine is extremely noisy and always has been. I have on the floor next to my desk and the noise is very irritating when I am working on my mac mini which makes almost no noise. The machine is maxed out on RAM ( 512 MB ) with a 750 MHz Intel Pentium and a 80GB hard drive. Ok…this post is so disorganised.

I want to move this machine as far away from my workspace as possible. My workspace is in my unfinished basement so I have few options on where I can place this computer. There are only two electrical outlets in the basement and one of the two is in use by the washer and dryer. The other has a large freezer and one free socket. I can place the server on the fridge but my LinkSys WRT54G is on the opposite side of the basement; about 25-30 feet away. I’ll need quite a long bit of CAT5 cable strung accross the rafters.

My requirements are simple:

  • Support for SMB, Apple Filesharing Protocol (AFP), WebDAV file systems

Thinking about the architecture of the file server I have a few options:

  • Build a stripped Fedora Core server and install Samba and Netatalk 2.0.
  • Keep Windows XP SP2 on the box and find use Windows file sharing and find something to support AFP
  • Install the BSD based FreeNAS

I am partial to the Fedora Core/Samba/Netatalk solution because I am already familiar with Fedora Core and I could leverage other elements of the server for Web and application services (Apache/MySQL/PHP). Netatalk is a freely-available, kernel level implementation of the AppleTalk Protocol Suite. I am not familiar with Netatalk but I would either have to build from source or search the net for a Fedora Core RPM. Building from source is easy depending on how quickly one can also build/install any requisite libraries.

The Windows XP solution would be quickest to implement at this point since the OS is already installed. However, I may have difficulty finding and AFP server for Windows. I have a number of Macs on the network and would prefer to use AFP for those computers.

The FreeNAS install would be the most challenging for me since I have not experience with BSD (does OS-X count?).

FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, RSYNC protocols, local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface.

I am partial to the FreeNAS implementation since it’s a complete package where most of the work has been done and configuration is done via a web interface. I can treat the installation as a”black box” similar to something purchased from Linksys.Network Attached Storage screens11200603041058440870

Update: I installed the FreeNAS server and in under 15 minutes I had a working NAS. Performance wise FreeNAS is very fast. Dragging and dropping files from my macbook to the mounted FreeNAS drive was just as fast as on a drive installed in the local machine. I think I have found my solution. I will wait a week to be sure the system is stable before commiting my important files.

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