12TB NAS - Software part 2

And a little bit of hardware

Written on 09/13/2012 by Patrick Bregman

In the previous part I explained why I decided to go for Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (Debian from now on). Now that I have decided on the operating system, maybe it's time to dive a bit deeper into what exactly I expect of this machine. When you're going to build your own NAS, you should definitely do this first.

My list (with importance according to the MoSCoW method):

  • Apple Time Machine backup (M)
  • Silent (M)
  • File storage for:
    • Mac OS X (AFP) (M)
    • Windows XP+ (CIFS) (S)
    • Linux (NFS) (C)
  • Database server (S)
  • Webserver (S)
  • Virtual machines (C)
  • Media streaming to TV/laptop (W)

For ease of reading I roughly ordered it on importance. Some of the things are probably very obvious and clear, others maybe not so much. Let's take a closer look at some of those items, shall we? The ones I don't talk about now will be talked about in a future post.

Apple Time Machine

This is probably the thing that most people seem to struggle with, given the amount of not-quite working tutorials on the internet. I want my NAS to be able to serve as a backup destination for my laptop and my older Mac. This is to make sure that as soon as I have a connection to my home network, I start making backups. No more fiddling around with Firewire disk enclosures that require external power supplies etc. So, to make sure I always have backups, I want to be able to do this to my NAS.


Because the machine is going to run 24/7 (or that's the idea at least) it better be as silent as possible. Luckily the case has the option to install a shitload of large (120+ mm) fans, 1 at the front and back and 2 at the top. With a bit of fiddling around it might even be possible to mount 2 fans at the front. The advantage of big fans is that they can rotate very slow and still get enough air in and/or out.

Even better, I should be able to cool my CPU (an Intel i3 2120T, 35W TDP) using a passive cooling solution because of the airflow that's generated by the front and rear fan. These are silent because of their size, so the only things that can make noise will be the 5 disks

File storage

Maybe I named it a bit weird, but I mean that files should be accessible over the network. This means that a few programs must run to make sure you can access the files. These include:

Mac OS X (AFP)

This is handled by the same program that offers Time Machine support, namely netatalk. Once installed this is only a matter of configuring it to share the right folders over the network. Besides the original Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), OS X can also handle CIFS nowadays. This is the protocol used by Windows.

Windows XP+ (CIFS)

This is more a "just in case" option than something that's going to be used daily, seeing that I do not have Windows machines that I use on a daily (or even weekly) basis. CIFS is what Windows uses for file sharing, and there are programs that offer this functionality for Linux, BSD and other UNIXes. The only downside is that it didn't allow me to use the full speed of the interface the last time I tried it.

Linux (NFS)

Since Linux also supports AFP and CIFS, setting up NFS especially for Linux is kinda overkill. It would be nice if it were easy to accomplish, but when I need to spend more than approximately 15 minutes on it, it isn't worth it to implement. And besided, Linux has other options to connect to the server to access the files.

A bit of hardware

A little update on the hardware side, I decided to go ahead and purchased the casing already. I ordered it over at Caseking.de for just about the same amount that I would've paid here in the Netherlands. The difference was in the delivery time. The shop in the Netherlands claimed to need at least 3-4 days. I didn't feel like waiting, so I decided to order it in Germany. A little picture directly from Bitfenix:

Bitfenix Prodigy White

Yes, I went with the white version, because I thought that would be more stylish. The handles on the top and bottom are made of some kind of flexible material, and I kinda want to replace them with full metal versions. If you know about a place that can make stuff like that, feel free to drop a line in the comments!

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