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Router Charts

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Mesh Charts

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Performance

I tested NASLite with iozone, as per our usual test procedure to see how NASLite stacks up against its FOSS cousins.

Testing Notes:

  • The full test setup is described here.
  • The test was run from a Opteron 165 with 2 GB RAM running Windows XP SP2.
  • Since my testing machine differs from the one used for SmallNetBuilder's NAS Charts, the Synology DS107 was also tested with the same machine to help establish a frame of reference.

1000 Mbps LAN Write Performance
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Figure 8: 1000 Mbps LAN Write Performance

In Figure 8, NASLite's write performance fares pretty well against FreeNAS, probably due to Ethernet driver differences between Linux and BSD.

1000 Mbps LAN Read Performance
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Figure 9: 1000 Mbps LAN Read Performance

In Figure 9, NASLite also performs well on the read side. As with FreeNAS, performance drops off considerably when the NASLite system starts runs out of RAM at a file size above 384 MB.

Closing Thoughts

If you take a look at NASLite's documentation, it doesn't advertise any of the features that I usually look for in a NAS. To me, it really seems it was conceived as a NAS "rescue disk". It works great for that, an easy install with no complicated features to slow you down, allowing you to quickly add a "rescue NAS" to your network. The documentation is excellent and it has an active user base and on top of that, NASLite packs some pretty good performance.

But there is an unwritten agreement between the FOSS community, companies implementing FOSS into proprietary software packages and consumers. Companies offering a commercial product based on open source code really need to bring something new and exciting to the table that's not available in the FOSS community (Mac OS X is a beautiful example of this).

With NASLite, I don't see much value in the "proprietary" elements offered by NASLite. From what I could tell, all you get is a ncurses menu and a few pretty status pages. Status pages are nice, but they are only there for checking up on things.

FreeNAS, on the other hand, offers virtually complete control of the entire application via a browser-based front end. And there are numerous other little things that keep NASLite from being in the same league as FreeNAS (or unRAID for that matter), namely lack of a DHCP client, folder-level service export control, lack of software RAID, etc.

Alone, none of these faults are really deal-breakers, together, they add up. As a "rescue NAS" application, NASLite is great. Aside from the annoyingly-long unlocking procedure for the HDD version, the install is painless and the services just work. But for a long-term, truly full-featured NAS solution, I'd go with FreeNAS.

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