NASLite Network Attached Storage

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Task-specific simplicity with low hardware requirements.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:23 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:25 pm
Posts: 294
Location: Delft NL / Brooklyn NY
A few days ago, my toaster short-circuited. Before I discovered the villain, my RCD (the circuit breaker) popped three times. The result was that my NasLite server wasn't online anymore.
Since the VGA screen was utterly compromised (Through weird color patterns, texts like 'Kernel panic - not syncing: Fatal exception in interrupt' were still readable...) I decided that the Intel server board had been damaged.
Maybe I drew that conclusion too fast, too early. Anyway, I installed a brand-new board (Intel SE7221BK1-E), with a new processor (Intel Pentium 660 'Costa Rica') and 4x 1GB memory, and kept the 3Ware 9690SA Multi-lane in place, without disconnecting the drives.
The controller has 7 drives connected: two RAID 1 arrays, each with one backup single drive, which are synced every night, and one hot spare.

When I booted the newly installed board, I checked some settings in the BIOS (booting from USB), and saw that the booting device was recognized (a 40-pin IDE Flash Module) and had a look at the BIOS of the 3Ware. The RAID arrays are reported as 'VERIFYING'. That process cannot be stopped or checked. There is no indication of the percentage done. The RAID arrays have been in that state for more than 72 hours.

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I downloaded a new copy of NasLite-2 x64 and tried to install (option i) from CD. Didn't work! A couple of times there was a screen which ended with:

'unable to load the System Description Tables', but most of the times (I kept on trying...) it immediately ended with a screen telling me 'Kernel panic - not syncing: Fatal Exception in Interrupt Pid: 1, comm: swapper Tainted: G D 2.6.36.4.CORE3 #1

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I assume that the backup drives are okay, but not sure. What to do? How to check the backup drives? Can I attach the drives to a Windows 7 machine, and see if the files are there, or should I make a temporary server with those single drives? Wait for the 'VERIFYING' to finish? Will it ever finish, or hangs the process?

I suppose the failing install of NasLite has to do with the VERIFYING RAID 1 arrays, or?

Please tell me what to do. I need the server back - quite desperately.

Thanks,
Pieter


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:25 pm
Posts: 294
Location: Delft NL / Brooklyn NY
Eureka!

Just to help others (is anyone reading this forum, is anyone still using NasLite?), this is the solution:

There are several small Linux distributions available. I used http://www.puppylinux.com. This Linux OS installs on any x86 computer, and resides in RAM. It has a simple, but effective GUI, and enough apps to do basic tasks. Since Samba is part of the setup, Puppy can read and write to both Windows drives and Linux/NasLite ext drives.

I took the single backup drive from the server and connected the drive through a USB docking station to my desktop computer. The drive was healthy, and up to date, thanks to the NasLite sync functionality. I could copy the essential files to continue working on the project I need to finish.

Next step is to delete the RAID 1 Arrays, recreate them and sync the single drives with the new arrays.

Hope this helps....
Pieter


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:26 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:25 pm
Posts: 294
Location: Delft NL / Brooklyn NY
If anybody is reading this forum (Tony? Ralph?) I still need help!

- I deleted the RAID1 arrays, and recreated them anew. Then I tried to install the Linux distro, and that install hangs immediately.
- Then I tried to install NasLite 64, and to my surprise and disgust, the attempt resulted in the same screens as showed in the first post.
- Since the kernel panic tells me 'not syncing' - though I don't know what it exactly means, I ordered a new 9690SA 8I at eBay. It is one of the options, I guess.

Please o please shine your bright lights on this big problem....

Thank you very much

Pieter


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:47 am
Posts: 111
All seems quiet on the NASlite front in the last few years - I don't even know if Tony or Ralph even bother to check the forums anymore. They probably have their own lives to live, and NASLite has kinda gone by the wayside perhaps. There were hints of a new version of NL coming out, but that was years ago now, and there have not been any further announcements.

Oh well......

As to you mentioning Puppy Linux, I have just been using that for my last couple of servers, as Slacko64 comes complete with "Simple Samba Management", which is a really useful little GUI for Samba, allowing you to easily share up to three things on the network. To share more then three things, you need to manually edit the Samba config file, but that is not hard, and lots of videos on YouTube show you how to do that. Slacko64 also supports ext4 and f2fs. I expect you can probably install ZFS if you wanted to, but probably not really necessary.

NL2 is still my favourite due to it's stripped-down profile, and so easy to get it going, but Slacko64 6.3.0(Puppy Linux) or higher is also a very good choice for a quick easy NAS.
I've had a play with Ubuntu Server, but although it works just fine, it is a huge install if all you want is basic NAS ability.
Ditto FreeNAS or OpenFiler.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:05 pm
Posts: 1681
Location: Up State NY in the USA!!!!
Graeme wrote:
All seems quiet on the NASlite front in the last few years - I don't even know if Tony or Ralph even bother to check the forums anymore. They probably have their own lives to live, and NASLite has kinda gone by the wayside perhaps. There were hints of a new version of NL coming out, but that was years ago now, and there have not been any further announcements....


I suspect that you are on target there. The low cost and availability of hardware, the utility of present NAS box solutions and their commodity pricing seem to have made NASLite a bit superfluous at this point. Personally I still like the solution for its stripped down simplicity, reliability, and its great performance with no spam or back doors to speak of. There is still allot to recommend it for sure. I setup a media server NAS for friends a little bit back using a 2U SGI Rackables server with a pair of 2.0GHz Zeons, 4GB ECC RAM, 4x350GB HDDs with a 4 port hardware RAID card. I pulled one processor and clocked it back to keep energy usage down, I think it is about 60W or so as it runs. Performance is of course outstanding with sustained transfer rates in excess of 90MB/sec. Total cost was only $125.00 for the server to the door and of course the cost of NASLite M2-X64 at $35.00. In the end it is still far and away the best performing stupid simple NAS to be had.

I wish that the guys delivered on the threat of a version that did iSCSI but...

Best on the roll your own thing.

Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:47 am
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Agreed. I too still prefer NL2 for it's simplicity, but Slacko64 Puppy with it's built in simple Samba GUI is absoulety perfect for my NAS needs, and many others too I dear say.....

While the Samba app in Puppy only allows you to specify three shares, in the previous servers I build up with it, I only had two HDD's in the machine(two 6TB ones), and I just had one folder on each volume under root, and just shared that, and so only had the need for two of the three shares you can setup.

It's painless to edit samba.conf with the built-in Puppy text editors if you need more shares, or need to add users and passwords, or lock down the system a bit more. I just have to work out how to set a static IP address in the samba.conf file, but I THINK you do that with the adapter = 192.168...... command. At the moment, the Puppy server I have on-line gets it's IP address via DHCP, which is not really ideal - I would prefer to lock it down to a specific address.

A bit more research on the samba.conf file command and settings should reveal how to do that.
I only have a basic understanding of Linux at this time, but I am learning more everytime I work with it, and YouTube has some very good videos showing you how to do many things in Linux. :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:25 pm
Posts: 294
Location: Delft NL / Brooklyn NY
Thank you very much for replying, Graeme. This forum used to be quite vibrant, definitely alive. When all those cheap NAS boxes came around, NasLite slowly lost traction. Those boxes had something to offer, NasLite couldn't: safety & a way to approach the boxes from outside your 192 network. Tony and Ralph were ahead, and now they're behind, and don't find any reason to develop NasLite beyond what is available now. I do understand that, though I find it a pity. Who knows how they could have sold a viable solutions to a big company. I hope they will look back at their project with pride.

My problem isn't solved yet, but I think it will be solved. I ordered a - what used to be a high end raid card - as a replacement of the probably faulty card for just 25 USD on eBay. I will - with some tricks and digital swindle - get my server back, up and running somewhere in December, when I have a little bit more time.

Pieter


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:47 am
Posts: 111
Best of luck with your rebuild. :)

Yes, I still think NL2 is a great product, at a reasonable price(considering you don't have to fuff around with any Linux stuff very much, as they have taken care of all that for you), but just last night I was playing with Slacko64 Puppy Linux again with a couple of test HDD's, and it is so easy to use it as a Samba server(which is all I need) with Slacko64's little Samba config app, that this is how I am going to build my next server.

Puppy's network setup wizards allow you to easily configure the static IP address for the server, so it is a 1-2-3 operation and you're up and running - more or less. ;)

Slacko64 also supports ext4 which is how I would like to build my next server anyway.
Nothing against ext3, but the fsck time when it is needed is - well - substitute the s in that command for u......
That is nothing new, and I do run my servers on UPS's so it's only when I have to take the server down, that the fsck tends to want to run. Generally, the power around here is pretty reliable.

But ext4 fsck does not have that problem so I understand, and I think I even read that ext4 volumes can be mounted while fsck is checking them or something - I might have that totally wrong, but I do remember reading somewhere about ext4 not causing fsck delays somehow/someway.

...but I digress....


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