A Mind Lost

Anything and everything.

QNAP TS-251+

A while back I picked up my first NAS, a QNAP TS-251+. I’ve been wanting to set up some sort of network storage for years now, but never really had the means (read: money) to do so.  I had considered repurposing an old computer to run something like FreeNAS, but ’round here they’re usually handed down to family members as I upgrade to newer hardware.  The other problem, of course, is that desktop-class hardware is overkill for such a job.

The TS-251+ is a slight upgrade over it’s predecessor, featuring a quad-core 2.0 GHz Intel Celeron processor capable of bursting up to 2.42GHz (the older TS-251 features a dual-core part clocked at 2.41GHz that can burst up to 2.58GHz), 2GB of RAM, and supporting up to two drives.  I upgraded the RAM to 8GB with a pair of Corsair Vengeance 4GB sticks, which is the maximum amount of memory the unit supports.

For storage, I bought a pair of 3TB Western Digital ‘Red’ NAS drives, configured to run in RAID 1 (mirroring).  As I’m primarily using the NAS as a backup solution, redundancy is particularly important.  While it would have been nice to load it up with the biggest drives it can handle, the 3TB drives were at the sweet spot between price and capacity.  I also have a 3TB Western Digital MyBook that, once I get everything organized, I’m planning to wipe and use to backup the NAS, just in case.

On the software side, the NAS runs a 64-bit Linux… sorry, GNU/Linux, underneath QNAP’s interface.  While it’s set up a little differently from what I’m used to (Slackware, primarily), it’s familiar enough that I’m not too lost.  There’s a decent selection of server software available, including Apache, ProFTPd, and SSH.

One annoyance, however, is that only the admin account can be used to connect via SSH.  There’s no easy way around it as, from what I’ve read, this behaviour is hard-coded into the server binary.  Digging through old forum posts and the QNAP wiki did yield some ways to bypass the restrictions of the SSH server, but no sooner would I look deeper into what was suggested before I’d come across information that would render the suggestions moot.  Turns out there’s been a handful of methods of getting 3rd party software onto QNAP’s devices (Optware?), but the ones I looked into had been deprecated in favour of something called Entware-ng.  I haven’t really had time to look into it further, but it seems like it should be possible to install a SSH daemon that’s not restricted.

Other than slowly starting to migrate my media collection to the NAS, I haven’t done a whole lot else with it yet.  All my music and a handful of videos are on it, and play fine over Samba, although occasionally my computer loses connection with the NAS.  I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I suspect it’s my router; I’ve got a shitty Bell Connection Hub that’s a combo modem/router.  The routery part of it is not that impressive.  Unfortunately, when I tried putting it into bridged mode to run my own router, I ended up getting lower throughput than running everything through the CH.  Why, I don’t know.  The modem has Gb ethernet ports, as does my ASUS router, so there’s no reason the speeds should be lower.

But I digress.  The NAS supports a bunch of neat features I’ve yet to experiment with like on-the-fly media transcoding and virtualization.  I did set up a wiki with DokuWiki to make it a little easier to share some stuff. I went with DokuWiki because it supports flat files for content storage.  Although the NAS includes an SQL server (MariaDB), flat files are ideal for my needs.

My family’s not all that used to things like SMB shares and network drives and all that, but a web page is something they can understand.  It’ll be tedious, creating pages for the stuff they want, but I’m sure there’s some bit of software out there that can make the process easier.  If not, it’ll be a great excuse to brush up on my shell scripting, or maybe learn Python, to hack together some sort of a tool that can be autorun from a cron job to automate pulling data out of info files to generate content accessible through DokuWiki.

First, though, I’ve gotta finish dumping several gigs of content onto it.

I wish I had something more informational to post, rather than just rambling on about some piece of hardware I bought, but I don’t.  I need to find something interesting to say, instead of leaving this blog to languish.


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