Okay, now you've tried it out and maybe decided that it's not for you. Or maybe you were experimenting a bit and somehow you've broken the boot so that the network doesn't come any more and you can no longer reach the box (trust me, it happens). Now what?
Hopefully, you upgraded to the latest QNAP firmware and installed the QPKG files before you started the process, as you will need it to do a recovery. To verify QNAP's procedure worked, I stepped through the process mentioned earlier and described by QNAP here. QNAP's instructions are very good, so I won't duplicate them here. But I'll offer a few tips.
If you don't have one, you'll first need to have a TFTP server somewhere on your network. Then you'll configure that server to transfer new firmware for the TS-209.
Since this is low-level, no-frills recovery, the TS-209 makes hard-coded assumptions about your network. The QNAP itself sets an IP address of 192.168.0.10 and assumes the TFTP server is 192.168.0.11.
In my case, I temporarily changed my IP address and fired up a TFTP server on my MacBook with a directly-connected Ethernet cable plugged into the TS-209 (a crossover cable wasn't necessary, since the TS-209 Pro's port is auto MDI/X). To start the process, you'll push and hold the Reset button (Figure 5) on the back of the unit until you hear two beeps.
Figure 5: TS-209 Back Panel
Before you do the transfer, read through the QNAP instructions and take particular note of the description of beeps and LED flashes. That's all you have to go on to tell you whether the transfer is working. I initially wasn't paying enough attention to what the LED blinks were telling me and didn't notice that the TFTP transfer wasn't happening (while setting up, I had fat-fingered my IP address).
When the process doesn't appear to complete, you're in a bit of a quandary. You don't want to reset the box just in case the flash burn is still occurring. But you can't wait forever, either. After I waited a long while, I looked closer at the LEDs and saw an unexpected pattern. So I investigated and found my IP address error.
When I fixed it, the TFTP transfer automatically started up and I got the proper sequence of LEDs, beeps and reboots. Now the NAS was back to the standard QNAP firmware that I had transferred via TFTP. Note that the flash recovery image may not be the same version as the currently-released version. So you may need to do a normal firmware update using the QNAP's firmware update feature in its web admin interface.
I found that the Debian installation worked well and delivered everything it promised: Full control of the TS-209 Pro with thousands of installable packages using an up-to-date Linux kernel. I now have everything I need to turn the NAS into a general-purpose computer for things like development, web serving, home monitoring and of course, file serving.
But as mentioned, there are downsides such as the lack of temperature-controlled cooling fan and DMA support for the disk. Hopefully these items will come with time and when they do, a Debian update will be just an apt-get upgrade away.
And what does standardized Orion support mean for the NAS market? It could mean it will be easier and cheaper for manufacturers to get to market with new Orion-based NASes and further cement Linux as the operating system of choice for these devices. It's also a selling-point for Marvell, which could put pressure on Marvell's competitors to do the same.
In the end, only you can decide if putting Debian on your NAS is right for you by weighing the trade-offs and looking at your intended usage. If you're going to use the box just as a NAS, you'd probably be better off sticking with standard QNAP firmware. But if you think you might like to branch out a bit, and you're comfortable with Linux administration, I don't think you can go too far wrong giving Debian a try.