Ephemeral Apps ~ Bruce Schneier

Ephemeral messaging apps such as Snapchat, Wickr and Frankly, all of which advertise that your photo, message or update will only be accessible for a short period, are on the rise....

The companies offering these apps might very well analyze their content and make that information available to advertisers. We don't know how much metadata is saved. In SnapChat, users can see the metadata even though they can't see the content and what it's used for. And if the government demanded copies of those conversations -- either through a secret NSA demand or a more normal legal process involving an employer or school -- the companies would have no choice but to hand them over.Bruce Schneier

Network Attached Storage

Generic Open Source Screen ImageI 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.FreeNAS Status

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.