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Old August 20, 2010, 07:37 AM
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Default Introduction: Mini-ITX N.A.S.

Hey guys,

I thought I should document this build because it will touch on many different aspects of system building, and might prove valuable for other members with similar projects down the road.


The Goals :

1. Small footprint, silent (fanless, if possible), low power consumption
2. Redundant back-up capabilities
3. Remote access
4. * Versatile (possible usage as a Web server, or other)


The Hardware :

- Zotac Ion ITX-G-E (Atom 330 mini-ITX motherboard)
- 2x1gb Corsair XMS2 DDR2-PC5400 ram
- Apex MI-008 case w/ 250 SFX psu
- OCZ Vertex 30gb SSD (*OS)
- Kingston compact flash card (4gb) (*OS)
- Compact Flash to SATA II adapter
- 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 500gb drives (WD5000AADS) (storage)


The Setup Options :


I have two setup options. Complexity will dictate which one I will be going with once the project gets in full swing.

a) Installing Fedora13 (Gnome, 64bit) on the SSD, and running FreeNAS as a virtual machine in Virtualbox, with the 2x storage drives attached to the VM in RAID1.

b) Installing FreeNAS, embedded on the compact flash card, and attaching the 2x storage drives to it in RAID1.

For the record, I will start by going with option a), and if I can make it happen, I will still make a small how-to for option b) afterwards since it takes about 10 minutes.


To be continued...
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Old August 20, 2010, 07:55 AM
shaw
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I have the same case for a low-power rig too; be careful with the drives, it gets hot in there... airflow is next-to non-existant.
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Old August 20, 2010, 08:22 AM
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Default 1. Prepping the SSD for linux

Since Kernel 2.6.33, Linux supports In-Kernel automatic TRIM. Fedora13 is based on 2.6.33. Great success? Maybe... One more requirement for automatic TRIM is having firmware 1.5 or higher on my Vertex.

Furthermore, Linux also requires manual alignment of the partitions, since it will not do it correctly during the install.


Here we go :

1. head on to the OCZ Forum to download and install Firmware 1.5 and Firmware 1.6 for my Vertex.

2. I dig up my GParted CD (to perform the alignment and partition) and boot from it.

3. Once in the GParted GUI, it is important NOT to start partitioning with the GUI tool, but rather escaping to the console and using FDISK for the alignment procedure.

I follow a guide from the OCZ Technology Forum here (post #98), but I create 2 partitions: one for my Linux install, that will be EXT4, and one for my virtual machine in EXT3 (since VMs running on an EXT4 partition act funny in VirtualBox).


So I go:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Code

fdisk -H 32 -S 32 /dev/sda (this creates the alignment)

o
(creates the partition table)

"to create the first partition for our OS"

n
(creates a new partition)
p (creates a new primary partition)
1 (assigns partition number 1 to new primary partition)
2 (first cylinder starts at the second cylinder, leaving a 512kb space)
+27G (~27Gb partition size)

t (define partition type)
1 (define partition 1 type)
83 (Linux partition type)

"to create the second partition for our VM"

n (to create a second partition)
p (to create a second primary partition)
2 (to assign partition number 2 to second primary partition)
2 (to start partition at the first cylinder after the first partition stopped)
enter (to use the rest of the space available for the partition)

t (define partition type)
2 (define partition 1 type)
83 (Linux partition type)

w (writes changes to disk)
Now, I exit the console, and use the GUI tool to format both partitions: EXT4 for my 1st primary and EXT3 for my second primary. The alignment done with FDISK will be left untouched.


To be continued ...
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Old August 20, 2010, 11:44 AM
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I don't know the benifit of have a SSD as the primary drive on this. I would think you would get better performance gain out of either a third HD, or faster RAM. If your box is a NAS it most likely will never be turned off, and SSD for OS is for startup processes. I would think all the code would be in memory in such OSs. Additionally then your OS is backed up.
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Old August 20, 2010, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whited View Post
I don't know the benifit of have a SSD as the primary drive on this. I would think you would get better performance gain out of either a third HD, or faster RAM. If your box is a NAS it most likely will never be turned off, and SSD for OS is for startup processes. I would think all the code would be in memory in such OSs. Additionally then your OS is backed up.
Thing is, this box might turn out to be more than a NAS. It'll probably be a Linux server with a virtualized NAS. The size of a Linux install like Fedora and a virtual machine is a bit too big to run in 2gb of ram.

I also chose to use an SSD because I had a spare 30gb Vertex, and power consumption is lower than conventional drives.

But I definitely understand where you are coming from - initially I wanted to run FreeNAS embedded on the CF card, and might revert back to that idea if my whole Linux build gets too complicated!
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Old August 20, 2010, 01:00 PM
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That wont run fanless, you got one of the ones with the two smaller individual heat sinks. You need one of the ones that the heat sink is a lot larger and covers both chips and then some to run fanless (safely)
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Old August 20, 2010, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arinoth View Post
That wont run fanless, you got one of the ones with the two smaller individual heat sinks. You need one of the ones that the heat sink is a lot larger and covers both chips and then some to run fanless (safely)
Unless you go on Ebay, buy 20x20x0.75mm copper shims and put those under your stock heatsinks.

Saw a guy do it, and it dropped his temps by 10'-15'C! That could be just enough to run fanless without going thermal.

When I get the shims, I'll post my results (with & without shims, with and without fans, etc..)

Edit: Oh noes!!! In stock locally, and cheaper than NCIX...
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Old August 20, 2010, 01:21 PM
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Thats what i meant, with it stock like that it can't run fanless, although you get a quiet enough fan to just move a bit of air across it and the atoms still stay cool, at least thats what happened when i had my zotac a-u ionitx board.
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Old August 20, 2010, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arinoth View Post
Thats what i meant, with it stock like that it can't run fanless, although you get a quiet enough fan to just move a bit of air across it and the atoms still stay cool, at least thats what happened when i had my zotac a-u ionitx board.
Definitely an option - either way, the days of the whiny 40mm fan are over
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Old August 20, 2010, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synth View Post
Definitely an option - either way, the days of the whiny 40mm fan are over
I wish i could say the same for my htpc/server... hence my resistor thread to downvolt them, loudest thing in the box.
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