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OpenFiler

By the way, using Openfiler wasn't the smoothest experience, although things started out on a positive note. I used the Openfiler GUI installer, which was very professionally done and relatively straightforward. It did take a good deal of time to complete (at least 15 minutes, perhaps more), maybe because it was downloading modules automatically as part of the install.

Openfiler Status screen
Click to enlarge image

Figure 7: Openfiler Status screen

I installed Openfiler to an old 10 GB IDE drive so that the two SATA drives would be free for my RAID 0 array. But when I finished the boot, the two SATA drives didn't appear! Long story short, I had to resort to logging into the consule as root and running fdisk to kill the partitions left over from Ubuntu server before I was finally able to mount the drives and configure them into a RAID 0 array.

I hit two other gotchas when I tried to map the RAID 0 share on the Vista machine. The first was that Openfiler doesn't provide a way to set the Windows workgroup name. So the only way to find the share was to use the UNC notation and IP address, i.e. //10.168.3.115 in my case.

Openfiler Shares screen

Figure 8: Openfiler Shares screen

But even once I found the share, I wasn't able to map it. That turned out to be caused by Openfiler's default notation for SMB shares that has the format of volumegroup.volumename.directory, which Windows apparently doesn't like. I had to use the "Override SMB/Rsync share name:" option in the Share edit screen to enter a simpler name without the dots and was then able to map it as a drive.

Closing Thoughts

So is AMD's Geode or Intel's Atom better for making a faster, cheaper NAS? I think where I end up is that both look like they are capable of producing mid-market NASes that are in the same performance neighborhood.

If Thecus' pricing for the N4100PRO and upcoming N3200PRO is any indication, however, these processors aren't going to enable NASes that are cheaper than ones using Marvell's Orion. As small and low-powered as they are, the Atom and Geode are still general purpose CPUs, not application-specific network storage processors.

This means that the boards that they sit on look more like those in the current top-of-the-chart NASes like the Intel SS4200-E, Qnap TS-509 Pro and Synology DS508, which use Intel Celeron M and Freescale PowerQUICC III CPUs. The higher parts count that these CPUs require means that I don't think they will be joining the ranks of $200 NASes anytime soon. But they should enable NASes that price out and perform somewhere in between current entry-level and "Pro" grade products.

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