Awasu » I can spell it, but I never know when to stop!
Monday 5th October 2015 12:39 AM [Tutorial]

I've been a big fan of NAS's for many years, that is, a small file server that sits on my network and serves up music, movies, provides space for backups, etc. In the past, I've had Synology and QNAP units, and while they were both nice, they were both were relatively expensive, loaded with features I never used. They also both only lasted a few years, and rebuilding a NAS with 5-6 TB of data is a painfully long process :(

So for the next one, the plan was to grab an old laptop, load it up with FreeNAS, and then just hang a few disks off it. If and when the laptop dies, I can just set up a new one and the external disks, with all the data on them, should just plug straight in.

However, this is a bit of clunky solution, so when the Raspberry Pi came out, I got very interested in the idea of using that. Unfortunately, the rPi has one big drawback that makes it unsuitable for use as a file server: it only has 10/100 Mbps ethernet. All the computers on my network have gigabit ethernet, and since I'm moving 100's of GB's of data every night for backups, my file server also needs to have gigabit ethernet.

Enter the Banana Pi. Released in late 2014 by LeMaker in China, it's slightly more expensive but significantly more powerful, notably with gigabit ethernet and a SATA port. Add in a case, and I'll be able to build my own future-proof NAS for well under a hundred bucks, plus the cost of the disks.

There are quite a few tutorials floating around that explain how to set up a Banana Pi as a NAS, but they invariably only talk about how to set up the factory image of Open Media Vault[1]This is the successor to FreeNAS, written by one of the FreeNAS guys, that runs on Linux instead of FreeBSD. (which is relatively easy to do), but this series of tutorials will also talk about the many things you need to do after that to get a usable system.

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1. This is the successor to FreeNAS, written by one of the FreeNAS guys, that runs on Linux instead of FreeBSD.

2 Responses to this post

I finally bought a Raspberry Pi 2 in July, I wasn't planning on using it for a NAS, so the lack of network bandwidth wasn't a drawback for me. I wanted to go with the biggest user community, as I thought I'd need lot's of help.

Nice tutorial on the Banana PI/NAS setup! The "Backing up" part is especially relevant to me.

I thought you might like this :)

The feeling I get from people talking online is that while the rPi is great for little hobby projects, it's a touch under-powered for use as a general purpose-computer. The bPi, on the other hand, is usable. Slow, but usable. I think the dual-core CPU makes a big difference.

I've set up another one as my internet gateway, so there'll be another tutorial coming soon... :)

WRT backups, the method I described is pretty labour-intensive, so I'm currently investigating whether or not it's safe just to dd the root partition, while it's still in use. The jury seems to be out on that one, but it'd be cool if it is - you could just a cron a backup job every night.

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