The greatest open source software of all time: OpenFiler

There are many open source software gems. InfoWorld has awarded the 2009 Bossies (Best of Open Source Software Awards). The award is presented to the forty best free business applications.

OpenFiler caught the InfoWorld reviewers’ special attention. The flexible NAS solution also scooped the best SAN tool award:

openfiler_logo“OpenFiler is a SAN/NAS appliance based on rPath Linux. According to its creator, OpenFiler actually began life atop Fedora Linux, moved to CentOS, and final settled on rPath, attracted by that Linux’s impressive package-management environment. OpenFiler can operate at either the SAN or NAS level — or both simultaneously.

OpenFiler’s feature set is impressive. It provides drivers for a wide array of peripheral busses: It can talk to disk drives on IDE, SAS, SATA, SCSI, or iSCSI interfaces. If you need RAID, OpenFiler is compatible with hardware from Adaptec, LSI Logic, Intel, and others. Further, it can handle file systems up to 60TB in size. Its supported Ethernet controllers include Fast, Gigabit, and 10 Gigabit controllers from Intel and Broadcom. In spite of these bounteous capabilities, its actual processor and memory requirements are modest. A standard x86 system with 256MB of RAM, 1GB of disk space for the OS image, and at least one Ethernet card is all you need to get going.

There’s not much to see in the console when you boot an OpenFiler system. You can log in to the console or through SSH and execute Linux commands in case you need to modify boot scripts and configuration files. But as with m0n0wall and IPCop, management of OpenFiler is through the administration user GUI hosted on a built-in Web server. (If you need access to shell commands, the GUI provides a secure shell terminal via a Java applet.)

The tabbed administration GUI leads you to sections wherein you can configure several components. Among them are users and groups. This requires you to select either LDAP or Windows as the authentication system. If you don’t have a Windows server available, OpenFiler comes with the open source OpenLDAP server.

You also have the ability to configure volumes. Here you identify the attached disk drives, select the file system type with which they will be formatted (XFS or ext3; future versions hope to provide ext4 and btrfs), define volume groups, and — finally — create actual volumes that users can access.

Additionally, you can configure quotas, which control user group consumption of disk resources; you can establish shares, which makes named file system locations accessible by SMB and NFS; and you can manage mirrors, backups, and snapshots.

There’s much more; consequently, OpenFiler’s administration and management system requires some learning time. (This is less a fault of OpenFiler and more the simple fact that OpenFiler can support so many different configurations.) The online installation instructions will get you started, but if you don’t feel up to a bout of self-education and need additional guidance, you can purchase an OpenFiler support package from the product’s Web site. In any case, if you need either a SAN or a NAS system, OpenFiler is well worth the time you’ll spend getting it installed and tuned.”

Congratulations to Openfiler

Posted in OpenFiler

ReadyNAS Vault 1.1.2 update released

Netgear has announce a maintenance upgrade to the ReadyNAS Vault that address issues reported by some of its Vault users.


1. Enhanced Session Management: Added auto-recovery of secure sessions to streamline performance and long-running backups. Eliminates known issue that produced intermittent stalling (this was the one that was affecting the larger files).
2. Reporting Verification Services: Added additional logic and integrity checks to ensure that files that have already been backed up are properly counted. Previously, files already protected were not reported as transferred producing a reporting discrepancy that this update corrects.
3. Accelerated Differential Analysis: Updated management of locally maintained meta-data to allow for performance and speed improvements on all subsequent job runs. Cuts down speed of subsequent backups by up to 80%.
4. OpenSSL-compatibility fix for ReadyNAS 1100 model: Fixed an issue that was causing failure of ssl connections on the 1100.

The update can be downloaded from the ReadyNas blog.

Posted in NAS

FreeNAS Bash script for ZFS scrubbing

Gimpe has put together a bash script to automatically run a script at predifined intervals to do a scrub on each ZFS pool. Please note, this will only run on FreeNAS 0.7 (not on the 0.6x series as it doesn’t support Sun’s Zetabyte Filesystem (ZFS).

View/Download the script from

Posted in File Systems, ZFS

My FreeNAS Project (by Jonathan Brown)

Jonathan Brown has started a series describing the different stages of setting up his FreeNAS server:

Part 1

“From a pure archival and backup perspective, the Sun in my digital solar system will be a mass storage device—in this case, a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. There are plenty of these all-in-one appliances out there. Iomega, D-Link, NetGear, HP, Drobo and LG all make some flavor of NAS. I’m sure any NAS from any of those brands will work for most people, but I really want to understand how my storage solution works so it can evolve and, in event of error, I can recover it.

After researching a bit and talking to my system admins at work, I decided that I want a hybrid system that has drive redundancy, a removable component and off-site replication.

For disk redundancy, I’m going with a RAID5 configuration—set of striped disks with parity data spread across all disks—which means the NAS can take a single hard drive failure and continue to operate without any data loss. I considered RAID6 (allows for two drive failures), but that’s really overkill and, combined with the remainder of my backup strategy, unnecessary.

Why do you want disk redundancy? Simply put, hard drives suck. They are so error prone that each drive has a system (called S.M.A.R.T.) that monitors how many errors it makes in hoping to predict a disk failure. Google did a study on drive failure rates. You can see the chart to the right which indicates percent failure by age (years in service). 8.6% of drives with three years of service fail! Ouch. So given the high rate of hard disk failures, that was an absolute requirement for my solution

The solution that will allow me to accomplish these goals? I’m going to build it. I will use the open-source software project called FreeNAS. It has quite a few lovely features (including software RAID, iSCSI and RSYNC) that will [hopefully] perform all I need. I did a little test using the downloadable VMWare image and a USB keychain drive. I was able to do exactly what I wanted, albiet a much more scaled down version. I will document as I go in case anyone wants to try to follow in my footsteps. In the next part, I will discuss the machine build and the parts I will be using.”


Part 2 – The Parts

To be honest, I’ve not built, technically assembled, a computer in over six years. I used to build all of my own computers when Windows was my primary operating system and I was developing a lot of Windows applications. Back then it made sense to build your own because it was more cost-effective. These days, unless you’re a gamer or have very unique desires, it’s way cheaper (and less frustrating) to go to a big box store and buy off-the-shelf or order online.


Part 3 – The Build

The first step was to disassemble the donor machine, which wasn’t a problem at all. The breakdown was smooth with only one trip to HP’s support site to figure out how an interlocking part became not so locking.

Next, I installed the motherboard into the new case. It wasn’t that big of a deal; however, the HP motherboard was fastened to a metal mounting plate and I had to decide whether to keep the HP mount or ditch it. I wanted to scrap it, but realized the CPU heat-sink and fan were mounted to the metal plate, so that decision was made for me. This created a tighter fit than I expected, but in the end turned out to be a very solid.

My next task was to get some power in the case, so I proceeded to install the 460W power supply from the donor. And that’s when I encountered my first hiccup. I didn’t think to measure the power supply to make sure it would fit in the new case—a standard ATX case—and I assumed, stupidly, that the power supply from the HP was of an ATX form-factor. Needless to say, it was not. I don’t even know what you call the form-factor, but it’s height is 97mm high, which is too tall for a standard ATX (86 mm).

Part 3 – The Build

Part 4 -The install

More deliveries to follow

Posted in FreeNAS

Thecus N5200PRO wins DnR Hardware Award

The latest review of the N5200 comes from the editors of DnR Hardware, who brought the N5200PRO into their test labs. After subjecting the N5200PRO to a variety of tests, DnR Hardware editors came to the same conclusion – the N5200PRO is “a device which is in the top of its class,” giving it their coveted DnR Hardware Gold Award!

To kick things off, editors began with a short introduction of the N5200PRO: “At first glance the Thecus N5200B PRO is a mature product. First and foremost are 5 indicator LEDs, on / off and reset buttons, status display, 4 control buttons and 1 USB connection. The rear houses the power socket and switch, 3 USB (2 type A and 1 type B) connectors, 1 eSATA, 2 serial and gigabit network port. Included are a power and network cable, the key to the disc trays to open the drive trays themselves and 2 CDs (one with backup software in the form of Drive Clone 3 Pro and a Thecus CD with installation software and manuals.”

The N5200PRO offers some impressive features:

“Several features extracted from the N5200B PRO are nice. A few interesting options such as scheduled power on/off the device at regular intervals or the possibility of the 2 network connections in load balancing (sharing of network traffic) or failover (automatic switching between the other network connection). There is also a wide choice of different RAID types.”

The conclusion?

“The N5200B PRO is a mature and robust product that provides consumers a ‘safe’ central place to store data. For SMEs, this product may be a very interesting alternative to the expensive storage servers from established brands like HP and Dell. Especially because of the performance and redundancy through the network, the N5200B PRO is very suitable.”

N5200PRO Features:

iSCSI Ready
N5200PRO is not only a file server, but it also supports iSCSI initiators. Your server can access N5200PRO as a direct-attached-storage over the LAN or Internet. There is no easier way to expand the capacity of your current application servers. All storage needs can be centrally managed and deployed. This brings ultimate flexibility to users.

Multiple RAID
N5200PRO supports multiple RAID volumes on one system. So, you can create RAID 0 for your non-critical data, and create RAID 5 for your mission-critical data. Create the RAID level protection depending on your needs.

Faster and Fastest
N5200PRO is equipped with a Low Voltage Intel® 1.5GHz Celeron® M Processor and 512MB DDR system memory, which provides even faster response and more concurrent connections. With its built-in Module compatibility, the N5200PRO is able to run more applications at the same time.

Superior Power Management
N5200PRO supports scheduled power on/off. With this feature, users can set what time the system turns on or off. This feature is a big plus for people who want to conserve energy. Wake-On-LAN enables users to remotely turn the system on without leaving their seat.

Complete Network Reliability (N5200B PRO only)
Because businesses depend on being able to retrieve their data, the N5200B PRO comes with both Load Balancing and Failover to optimize and ensure network traffic. With its Failover capability, the N5200PRO automatically switches to an alternate Ethernet connection should the first one be inaccessible. With these two functions, the N5200B PRO provides users with greater network reliability.

Easy Remote Backup
The N5200 is also equipped with Nsync, Thecus’ remote data backup application. With Nsync, users can have the N5200PRO automatically upload files to an external storage device at a designated time. What’s more, if the external device is another N4100, the connection is made via a secure connection. Designed for SMBs for enhanced data protection, Nsync takes the guesswork out of data backup.

For more details and buying, go here.

Posted in Thecus

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