My dreams of a low cost standalone NAS device was quashed by the etrayz device from xTreamer recently so I’ve decided to resurrect my curiosity with FreeNAs and this time I will actually attempt to build it. On paper FreeNas is fantastic and it’s a wonder why a lot more people are not using it. It can run on old hardware that most people would just throw out and it sits quite comfortably within your Windows network to serve files as well as stream your media content. FreeNas is a free network-attached storage server and if you’ve recently browsed a tech catalogue, you would have seen the astronomical prices that manufacturers are asking for to own one of these devices. The main features of FreeNas is CIFS(Samba), NFS, FTP, Software RAID, Web Server and AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), I don’t know enough about each protocol to go in depth but all I know is that it works and is brain dead easy to install.
Currently I have a test FreeNas box running on a Pentium D cpu, 2GB of Crucial Ballistix Ram (This is Overkill I know but it’s the only DDR2 memory I had laying around), 2 x 40GB HDD on Software RAID0 (WD & Seagate) all hooked up on an old Lenovo desktop (can’t remember the chipset sorry) with an onboard graphics and gigabit LAN. Freenas is loaded on a 16GB USB Stick which took no more than 10 minutes to install. This pokey little Pentium D FreeNas box was able to stream Kick Ass (the movie) without a single stutter, if you’re familiar with a 1080p Bluray rip of Kick Ass, you will find that approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes into the movie, the bitrate jumps to a massive 50Mbps for a few seconds and then hovers around the 30Mbps mark. This answered a niggling doubt for me about my HDX1000, it is now clear that it is not as shit as I was starting to think it was because I previously could not stream that movie properly without stuttering. I was convinced that it was a hardware limitation on the HDX1000.
The eTrayZ is sold .I don’t need it because it doesn’t meet my requirements. I’m trying not to be critical of the device, all I can say is do not expect blistering performance from this device because you will only be disappointed.
So what now? Well from here I need to find myself another motherboard, something like the Abit AB9 Pro which has a whopping 9 Sata ports, it’s enough to make any storage geek weak at the knees. This 965 chipset from Abit however is rarer than tits on a bull and I’m having trouble finding it. If I cannot get a hold of one, I may settle for something like Asus P5G41C-M LX which is a relatively cheap motherboard which supports both DDR2 and DDR3. I may need to check the hardware compatibility list on FreeNas.org just to make sure.