Sunday, January 3, 2010

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Using Apple Time Machine with FreeNAS

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If you are like me then you don't want to shell out a ton of money for Apple's Time Capsule and you want redundant network storage that works with Time Machine. This post details how to setup Time Machine on your Mac (OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard) so that it works with FreeNAS (version 0.7).

FreeNAS (link) is an open source Network Attached Storage operating system based on FreeBSD. It supports a wide variety of services, including AFP and SSH (it also supports Samba for those of you who are Windows users). FreeNAS also works very well
with most hardware RAID configurations (0, 1, 5).

Finding a NAS server

Find an old PC that you want to use for your NAS server. In my case, I had an old Pentium 4 Prescott from 2004 that had an on-board RAID controller. You can use pretty much any old computer with an Ethernet card. But since I wanted redundancy within my NAS server, the on-board RAID controller was especially nice. You probably also want to use a computer that supports SATA drives. FreeNAS will run on just about anything, but you may have a tough time finding hard drives (especially larger drives) if your board does not support SATA.

Configuring RAID

If you want redundancy like I did, you are going to want to setup a RAID configuration. Since my on-board RAID controller only supports RAID 1 and RAID 0, I chose RAID 1 since RAID 0 does not provide any redundancy for data loss prevention. After I installed two identical 1TB drives in my new NAS server, I turned on the computer and configured a RAID 1 volume. Configuring a RAID 1 volume consisted of turning on RAID support in the BIOS and then selecting the drives to be used in the volume along with the volume name. My volume name was appropriately named RAID1_Volume.

Installing FreeNAS

Install FreeNAS by placing the CD (burned from the FreeNAS ISO) in the bootable CD-ROM drive in the new NAS server. Once FreeNAS is done loading, (assuming your computer is connected to your network) your new NAS server will be online.

If you don't want your new NAS server to boot from the CD-ROM drive every time, then you probably want to install the OS on internal storage. To do that, when FreeNAS loads select option 9) Install/Upgrade to hard drive/flash device, etc. from the Console setup menu. In the following menu, select 3 Install 'full' OS on HDD + DATA + SWAP partition to install FreeNAS on a internal hard drive.

Since I only had the two drives combined in a RAID volume, I selected my RAID volume as the install location for FreeNAS. I also just accepted all the default memory/storage/swap sizes for my FreeNAS installation. And presto! FreeNAS was installed.

Once you finish installing FreeNAS, Shutdown the system by selecting 8) Shutdown system on the FreeNAS Console setup menu, take out the CD from the CD-ROM drive and restart the system. When the system comes back up FreeNAS will be installed on internal storage in your NAS server. Your new NAS server should now be ready for operation. If for some reason your NAS server is not accessible from your network, make sure your IP settings are configured properly for your network 2) Set LAN IP address and that the correct Ethernet card is being used by FreeNAS 1) Assign interfaces.

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Unknown said...

Thank´s a lot for sharing this i have used FreeNAS for a long time, but never with Time Machine now it seems to work just fine :)

I really didn´t get why i should make a directory in /mnt i did only get the rights to mkdir there as root but then i got errors when i tryed to copy the sparsebundle over AFP. I solved this by mount my hard drive in the webgui instead.

Anonymous said...

I've got a USB stick mounted inside the NAS server - a doohickey that turns a 9-pin motherboard USB header into two type A sockets costs $10 from the usual suspects.

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