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The FreeBSD based network attached storage ( NAS) solution. Presented, tested and researched by: Elliott Lake FreeNAS What is a NAS? Consider a NAS server to be: A network attached device with: A self contained O/S. One or more mass storage devices shared over the network. Examples:

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The FreeBSD based

network attached storage (NAS) solution.

Presented, tested and researched

by: Elliott Lake

FreeNAS


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What is a NAS?

  • Consider a NAS server to be:

    • A network attached device with:

      • A self contained O/S.

      • One or more mass storage devices shared over the network.

        • Examples:

          • Hard disk drive(s).

          • Optical drive(s).

      • Specialized device geared for sharing files.


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What is a NAS?

  • “A specialized file server that connects to the network. A NAS device contains a slimmed-down operating system and a file system and processes only I/O requests by supporting the popular file sharing protocols, primarily CIFS for Windows and NFS for Unix.”

    • thefreedictionary.com


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Project Background:

  • My employer had a need for Terabytes of storage space.

  • The need for the storage space was unexpected.

  • No budget existed for the project.

  • Throughput required server level capabilities.

  • 2/3 of the IT staff does not seem to handle command line approaches.

  • Must work in a Windows© Environment.


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Project Background:

  • Specific projects:

    • A three system, isolated production network setup has been planned.

      • The project has been placed on an indefinite hold.

      • The project is currently using Microsoft.

    • Possible use for a read-only access for storing aerial photographs.

      • The project has been placed on an indefinite hold.

      • Various managerial staff do believe someone else should store the data.


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Why was FreeNAS Selected?

  • Installation seemed to be a FreeNAS version of Windows default installation.

  • GUI Web interface.

    • Only one IT staff member seems to be comfortable with command line approaches.

  • Management wants a K.I.S.S. Approach.

    • Lowest common denominator / skill set approach neede.


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Why was FreeNAS Selected?

  • Disk backup of the organizations storage area network (SAN).

    • The implemented Windows 2003 backup solution seemed to be inadequate.

    • Tape backups were inconsistent requiring a backup solution for the backup.

    • Total server storage in the Terabyte range.

    • Additional storage space was required for over 0.1TB of data with no disk space available at the time.


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FreeNAS System Requirements:

  • PC class hardware with:

    • 96 MB RAM.

    • Bootable optical drive.

    • Floppy disk for configuration backup.

    • Mass storage device for O/S.

      • USB.

      • Hard disk drive (HDD).

      • Compact flash (CF) drive.


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FreeNAS System Requirements:

  • PC class hardware with:

    • Mass storage device for network data.

  • Virtual system set to emulate the previous configuration.

  • Was supposed to integrate with Windows 2003 Active Directory.

    • Depending on source.


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FreeNAS Supported Drive Types:

  • SCSI

  • IDE

  • SATA

  • CF

  • USB

  • Firewire

    • Not listed in documentation or tested by myself as of this presentation.


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FreeNAS Supported File Systems:

  • UFS

    • Native for UNIX, FreeBSD, FreeNAS and more.

  • FAT

  • FAT32

  • Ext2

  • Ext3



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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • FreeNAS version being used:

    • LiveCD 0.865RC1

    • Running FreeNAS from a live CD can be done.

      • This ability will be mentioned in the demo slides.

      • The setup and configuration of this ability will be considered beyond the scopy of the presentation.

  • Installation instructions will vary based on FreeNAS version.

    • Consult documentation available on the FreeNAS web site.


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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • Start system.

  • Insert FreeNAS CD while system boots.

    • If the system is not set to boot off of the optical drive first:

      • Make sure the HDD does not have a valid O/S present (not applicable for VM systems).

      • Set to boot from optical drive in BIOS.

  • Wait for tones from system.

    • The tones indicate FreeNAS is ready.

      • Use as a live CD.

      • Install.

      • FreeNAS splash screen will be visible.

        • Press any keey to change to console.


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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • Select option 9.

    • “Install/Upgrade to an hard drive/flash device, etc.”

    • This option applies to FreeNAS 685 series through RC1.

    • Previous versions use another option number.


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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • Select option 3.

    • “Install 'full' release on hard drive:”

    • Creates two partitions.

      • First partition is for FreeNAS O/S.

      • Second partition is for data.

      • Do not format the second partition of the first physical drive as problems are expected.


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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • Enter the name of the optical drive.

    • The naming convention will be BSD format.

      • Example: acd0 for the first ATAPI CD ROM drive.

      • I hope my research was right.

    • Using acd0 for the demonstration.

  • Select the HDD drive for the FreeNAS O/S.

    • Using ad0 for the demonstration.


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FreeNAS Installation to HDD:

  • The system will create the mount point for the optical drive.

  • The O/S will be installed on the HDD.

  • The system will automatically reboot.

  • The system is ready after:

    • The FreeNAS splash screen appears.

    • The tones have been heard from the system.



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FreeNAS Test Systems, Stable:

  • Intel SR440BX motherboard.

  • Intel 450 MHz PII.

  • 256 MB RAM.

  • 16x Sony optical DVD drive.

  • 3 ~ HDDs.

    • Western Digital 6 GB IDE HDD.

    • Western Digital 20 GB IDE HDD.

    • Western Digital 40 GB IDE HDD.


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FreeNAS Test Systems, Unstable:

  • Intel D850EMV2 motherboard.

  • Intel 2.0 GHz P4.

  • 512 MB DRAM.

  • ASUS CD-ROM drive.

  • 2 ~ Promise Technology TX4200 RAID controllers.

  • 1 ~ Maxtor SATA/150 PCI controller.


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FreeNAS Test Systems, Unstable:

  • HDDs

    • 1 ~ 20 GB Western Digital HDD for O/S.

    • 6 ~ 250 GB Western Digital SATA HDDs.

    • 4 ~ 250 GB Maxtor SATA HDDs.

  • HDDs

    • Configurations:

      • RAID 5 using 10 drives.

      • RAID 5 and RAID 1:

        • 2 ~ HDDs RAID 1.

          • 1 Drive on each TX4200 RAID controller.

        • 8 ~ HDDs RAID 5.

          • 3 Drives on each TX4200 RAID controller.

          • 2 Drives on SATA/150 PCI controller.


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FreeNAS Test Systems, Unstable:

  • As of the beginning of this presentation (Thursday, October 25, 2007) the stability issues were not resolved.

    • Further testing will not be possible as the test HDDs had to be reallocated for production use.


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What? The thing hasn’t blown up yet?

I’m slipping!!!

FreeNAS Configuration Demo:


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • FreeNAS setup for configuration and management through web browser.

    • Some management does not work through the browser.

      • Example: Integration with Microsoft AD environments.

  • System accessed by URL.

    • HTTP://IPv4 address or HTTP://IPv6 address.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Start browser of choice.

  • Enter address.

  • Enter logon.

    • Default logon credentials.

      • User: admin

      • Password: freenas

      • The credentials get you this:


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Interesting Note???

    • For the purposes of the deomonstration, attempts were made to install and configure FreeNAS on a Dell Latitude C800.

      • FreeNAS would install.

      • FreeNAS would identify the embeded NIC with 16 hexidecimal pairs as the MAC address.

      • Problem corrected with further experimentation using a USRobotics PCMCIA NIC.

      • Go figure???



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Each category contains several subcategories.

Several of the pages include tabbed collections / abilities.

Configuring FreeNAS:

  • What you can configure on web GUI:

    • System settings.

    • Network interfaces.

    • Disk setup.

      • JBOD and RAID.

    • System access.

    • System status.

    • System diagnostics.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Pick the Management link in the left frame, under Disks.

    • Select the + at the right side of the right frame near the column labeled Status.

    • Select the disk to be added to the system as usable storage.

      • Located to the right of the Disk label.

      • Note: If you add the remaining space on the system drive, DO NOT FORMAT THE DRIVE.

      • According to FreeNAS.

    • Select the UDMA mode.

    • Select the HDD standby time.

    • Select the power management method.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Select the acoustic level.

      • No kidding. FreeNAS has the option to run the HDDs at reduced noise level.

        • Was not tested prior to this presentation.

    • Select the preformatted file system.

      • Testing with FreeNAS 685b did not indicate this worked.

        • Manual formatting was still required.

    • Save the settings.

    • Repeat the previous steps if using multiple drives.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Note about RAID drives:

      • Drives being used in a RAID configuration need to have the preformatted file system set to software RAID.

      • This was the only time in testing that the preformatted setting seemed to impact the setup / configuration.

    • Apply the changes.

    • Note: FreeNAS states it can be used for iSCSI.

      • This was not tested.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Configure Software RAID if applicable.

      • Software RAID is beyond the scope of this presentation.

      • Software RAID 1 and 5 were tested.

        • The tests involving RAID 1 and 5 were on the unstable setup.

        • Problems encountered with the RAID configurations are inconclusive at this time,


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Format the disks.

      • Select the disk to be formatted in the Disk drop-down menu.

      • Select the file system type in the File System drop-down menu.

      • Select the minimum free disk space in the drop-down menu.

        • This is space made unavailable to the user.

        • Space is a percentage of the disk size.

      • If desired, retain the disk's MBR.

      • Format disk.

      • Repeat as needed for remaining disks.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configure HDDs:

    • Create Mount Points:

      • Select Mount Point link under Disks in the left frame.

      • Select the + at the right of the window near the Status column.

      • Select the type of media (HDD or ISO) in the drop-down Type menu.

      • Select the disk from the Disk drop-down menu.

      • Select the partition.

      • Select the file system.

        • This was done in previous steps.

        • Testing has not been done as to the ability to change the FS type in this window.

      • Enter share name.

      • Enter share description.

      • Save the mount point settings.

      • Repeat as needed for additional mount points.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Controlling Access:

    • Testing did not provide positive results for the following:

      • Using Active Directory Integration.

        • The last documentation viewed indicated this option did not work and a request for those versed in PAM was included in the document.

      • LDAP Integration.

        • Testing did not provide favorable responses for this function.

      • What option is left?

        • Users and Groups.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Controlling Access:

    • Users and Groups:

      • Pick the Users and Groups link in the Access list.

      • Select the Group tab.

      • Start the add group function by selecting the +.

      • Fill in the fields provided.

      • Save the settings using the Add button.

      • Select the Users tab.

      • Fill in the fields provided.

      • Save the settings by selecting the Add button.

        • Note: Using the available shell option is suspected to provide an increased level of control.

        • Research on the FreeNAS web site seems to verify the idea.

      • This is option 6 in the console setup menu.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configuring Network Shares:

    • For Microsoft:

      • Select the CIFS link in the Access list.

      • Enable CIFS (SAMBA) service.

      • Fill in the fields in the Settings tab.

        • Note that testing indicates that these settings are applied to all shares on the system.

      • Save the settings with the Save and Restart button.

      • Select the Shares tab.

      • Select the + to start defining a share.

      • Fill in the fields for the share name and description.

      • Select the mount point for the share.

      • Select desired options for:

        • Set browsable.

        • Permission inheritance.

        • “Recycle Bin”.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configuring Network Shares:

    • For Microsoft:

      • Note: Testing of permission inheritance was incomplete and therefore inconclusive.

        • Attempted different masks with success related to the specific share.

          • Suspected overriding inheritance through the shell commands will be possible.

          • This theory has not been tested as of this presentation.

        • Unknown level of control.

        • Unknown level of impact of the setting.

    • For Linux:

      • First testing / research were done using SAMBA.

        • The NAS can be accessed using SAMBA and Linux.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Configuring Network Shares:

    • For Linux:

      • NFS

        • Select the NFS link in the Services list.

        • Enable the NFS service.

        • Select to allow access to the root of the drive.

        • Enter the network data.

          • Testing done with 192.168.1.1/24.

          • Testing is in process.


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Configuring FreeNAS:

  • Successful Network Share Access:

    • Linux:

      • In address bar type smb://IPAddress/shareName

    • Microsoft:

      • In Windows Explorer:

        • Browse to the system and share.

          • Only if the share is set so browsers can see the share.

        • In address bar type \\IPAddress\shareName

      • Note:

        • RC1 seems to encounter a timeout issue with Microsoft requiring a logon after the timeout.

        • These issues were not present in FreeNAS 685b.


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Support / Sources of Information:

  • http://www.freenas.org


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Private Implementation / Research:

  • The presenter will be looking to implement FreeNAS:

    • On home / experimental network.

    • On research network at place of employment


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Research / Testing Conclusions:

  • Seems to need:

    • Work on AD integration.

      • Acknowledged by FreeNAS.

    • Additional documentation.

  • FreeNAS has definite possibilities:

    • Inexpensive mass storage.

    • Relatively intuitive GUI through web interface.

      • Relative to user.

  • Watch future versions!


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References:

  • http://computing-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/NAS

  • http://www.freenas.org/downloads/docs/user-docs/FreeNAS-SUG.pdf

  • FreeNAS version 685b.

  • FreeNAS version RC1.

  • FreeNAS documentation (for version 684).

  • FreeNAS downloads are available through the FreeNAS web site.


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Questions?

Or, please be kind, I never claimed to be an expert…


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