How to - set up an NAS at home
| by Francis D'sa
Old desktop computers and laptops don’t need to be scrapped any more. Using a free UNIX-based utility, you can convert them into efficient servers to serve you on your local network. All you need is any working computer without an operating system, a USB pen drive (or a CD/DVD burner and a blank CD) and software downloaded from the Internet.
What is FreeNAS
FreeNAS is a free Open Source Storage Platform based on FreeBSD and supports sharing across Windows, Apple and UNIX systems. It also includes ZFS, which supports high storage capacities and integrates file systems and volume management into a single piece of software. FreeNAS version 8 can be downloaded from ‘www.freenas.org’. FreeNAS can be booted right off a 2GB USB pen drive or a CD and the computer’s internal hard drives can be used as storage drives for your data. You can either choose to have a single internal hard drive or have multiple hard drives configured in RAID to have a large and/or secure network attached storage drive, which can be accessed from the local network. FreeNAS features a bundle of protocols and services, such as CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target) and UPnP, Software RAID (0,1,5), ZFS, disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T/e-mail monitoring with a WEB configuration interface (from m0n0wall) and a few more.
Let's get started
Let us show you how you can get your old computer to run FreeNAS putting in the least effort. Firstly, download the FreeNAS operating system (version 8.0.3) from the home page. You can choose to install a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version, according to your hardware compatibility. The download is available in the form of an ISO file, which can either be burned straight to a blank CD using which you can create the bootable USB pen drive or have it installed on the computer’s internal hard drive. Preferably a bootable pen drive is best suited as it is a live OS and you can use the pen drive on any machine you wish to make a NAS.
Download the 32-bit or 64-bit file from the FreeNAS website.
Unzip the necessary files and keep them ready in a common folder.
What we need from the ISO is the file named ‘FreeNAS_i386_embedded.xz’, if you are using the 32-bit version. If you are using the 64-bit version, it will contain the file ‘FreeNAS_amd64_embedded.xz’. We shall be proceeding with the 32-bit version here and the same procedure can be followed for the 64-bit version. This ‘.XZ’ is an archive and contains the compressed bootable image that we need. Now using 7zip, extract the ‘.XZ’ file to the same folder. The file within should be named ‘FreeNAS_i386_embedded’ (without any extension) and will be approximately 1.95GB in size after extracting.
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