Building a Cheap NAS Server

I have a few USB2.0 hard disks lying about -- however, they're noisy, so most of the time they are unattached to the laptop, and switched off.

Apparently though, some vendors are now selling embedded-linux devices which will take a set of USB2.0 drives and share them out over a LAN; basically, super-cheap NAS appliances. This is what I need. ;)

Here's some rough build-planning notes:

What I Want To Do

other ideas: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/Info/WhatPeopleAreReallyUsingTheirSlugsFor

Linksys NSLU2

This actually appears to be the only real contender! Selling points:

http://www1.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid=640 :

Amazon page: $80-$85 -- (note: some really shite reviews there. However, these are for the native firmware -- good reason to reflash with third-party code instead.)

Noise

A few reviews note that it's quite silent. I plan to put it out of the way in a closet or attic, anyway, which would help make noise less of an issue; also, the drives themselves make a fair bit of noise.

http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2004/08/03/how_to_nslu2_hack_pt1/ : a Tom's Networking hacking guide

It's really low-power -- 1.5W! that's nothing.

Firmware

Consensus is that the Linksys firmware is shite.

The "unslung" firmware sounds good, and adds ability to use FAT32-formatted partitions. http://www.unslung.org/downloads.php

more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSLU2

this wiki has lots of info: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/

the OpenSlug firmware looks interesting as a possible alternative: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/HowTo/Partitionable-Software-RAID-6-on-OpenSlug

OpenSlug uses the "ipkg" tools, same as the OpenWRT stuff; they're fantastic, so that's a big plus.

Wifi

If I use this, I'll need to hook up a USB wifi adapter, since I don't want to run ethernet from the router (in a corner of the front room) to a closet or the attic (which is quite far away).

success story: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/Peripherals/WirelessNetworkAdapter

This uses a super-cheap ZD1211 USB adapter; I got one for $10 and it's what I use on the mythbox (see BuildingFreevo). works great.

Anyway, need to get another one of those for this. Might as well buy 5 of 'em next time, they're brilliant little devices ;)

USB Ports

So, I have two disks and a USB wifi adapter. The NSLU2 has only 2 ports! problem!

soldering to enable extra USB ports: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/HowTo/EnableExtraUSBPorts

using a usb hub to add extra USB ports: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/FAQ/USBHubs -- not a lot of solid success stories there esp with the unslung firmware, but probably worth trying

This is a minor issue, anyway. I have one big disk and a small disk, which currently is taken up almost entirely by backups; if I just attach only the big disk to the Slug, that'd be fine.