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NAS Reviews

Introduction

NASLite

At a Glance
Product Server Elements NASLite-2 HDD
Summary Lightweight Linux-based NAS application that installs on any supported hardware.
Pros • Gorgeous web-based status pages
• Painless installation
• Runs on anything supported by the 2.4.36 kernel
• Good offering of network protocols
Cons • Console only administration
• No folder-level permission settings
• No folder-level service export control
• No software RAID options

Why build your own NAS? Simple. Because there are plenty of great NAS applications, like NASLite, that are ready to turn an old (or new) computer into a lightweight NAS device. As NAS distros go, NASLite is extremely light, weighing in at less than 7 MB! It's Linux-based and very easy to deploy and administer.

NASLite sports the usual collection of file transfer services including CIFS (SMB), NFS, AFP, and FTP all topped off with a rsync server. NASLite runs on a pretty extensive list of hardware—pretty much anything supported by the Linux kernel 2.4.36 tree.

NASLite has a set of nice built-in status webpages but, surprisingly, is not administered via the web, but rather via Telnet. NASLite packs a few other handy features such as SMART disk monitoring and disk capacity alarms.

NASLite comes in three flavors: the "HDD" version (hard drive installed) that I'll be reviewing; the "CDD" version that boots directly from CD; and the "USB" version that boots from a USB flash stick. Each version is priced at $29.95.

Installation

NASLite uses a text based installer (Sorry folks, no fancy screenshots for this one!). As I've said before, it's not pretty, but it gets the job done.

Text only install

Figure 1: Text only install

The installation process is actually as easy as advertised; all you have to do is select the right drive and start the install. The whole install process takes under 5 minutes.

Formatting the disks

Figure 2: Formatting the disks

I had a bit of trouble getting my Belkin F5D5000 Ethernet adapter working again, as I did with FreeNAS, but this isn't NASLite's fault. However, a D-Link DGE530T worked wonderfully. My NASLite system specs are shown in Table 1. To spice things up a bit, I decided to install NASLite on the same machine I had FreeNAS running on for a bit of head-to-head comparison.

NASLite System Specs
Model Compaq Persario
Processor 700MHz Celeron
Memory 384 MB
Hard Drive • Western Digital WD200AB 20Gb
• Seagate U5 ST310211A 10Gb
Ethernet Adapter • D-Link DGE530T
Table 1: Test System Specs

The NASLite HDD version is booted with a flavor of SYSLINUX meaning that the primary OS partition is formatted with the old MS-DOS filesystem, an interesting choice to say the least. All the shares, thankfully, are formatted with Linux standard ext2, with the option of adding a journal filesystem (ext3).

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