Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Geekspeak: FreeNAS 0.684b vs NTFS-3G

I was able to get some spare hardware on Monday to finally build my network attached storage (NAS) gear. They were either going to throw the machine out or donate it. So here I am with a P4 3GHz Desktp Board with 2GB RAM .. and huge ass ViewSonic 17" CRT to boot. :-)

Essentially a NAS is usually a headless fileserver connected to the network via ethernet or wireless, preferrably with very little OS overhead. In this case, I wrote the raw image onto a very old Apacer 128MB USB stick from my previous position. The image on disk itself probably only takes less than 30MB but what the heck -- rather than writing it on the 512MB USB thumb drive, which is now bootable with Damn Small Llinux (DSL) installed, which would indeed be a larger waste.

Anyway, moving along. I'd already written late last year about my drive crashing. That had resulted in me having to get several spare 300GB PATA drives. Old technology now, so it makes sense to put all those spare disks together into one casing -- thus my reason for making a NAS and looking for months for spare casing. I'll save you that story.

The 0.684 release is a beta build of a downsized m00nwall distro based on FreeBSD. It has FUSE support for the NTFS formatting which the drives currently have (at least until I convert them to UFS, the *BSD default) but its not fully incorporated. It took me from Monday evening until this morning to finally get everything working as I am even more a newbie than the authors of FreeNAS claim they are :-p

If you find yourself having to work with this current distro and pulling your hair out to mount and load an NTFS-formatted drive, I can perhaps lend a hand to clarify the issue. Lets assume you have figured out how you want FreeNAS up and running for brevity (otherwise RTFM or ping me and lets get something going).

Here are my notes:
1. FreeNAS is now released with FUSE and support via NTFS-3G
2. you can choose to use the FreeNAS shell (option #6); use SSH; or the FreeNAS webGUI
3. the latter is the easiest and you don't hav to worry about all the root stuff
4. navigate to the FreeNAS webGUI --> Diagnostics --> Command menu
5. manually create the mount points for your disk (note that *BSD names drives different from *Nix) using the "mkdir /mnt/"
ex. mkdir /mnt/Disk1_NTFS
6. check and note the partitions of your NTFS drive by running "ls /dev".
7. drives are usually listed as ad and partitions as ad
ex. ad01s1, ad3p1, da0s1
8 manually run NTFS-#G command to load your mountpoint in relation to your disk with the options for "force,show_sys_files,allow_other"
ex. ntfs-3g /dev/ad0s1 /mnt/Disk1_NTFS -o force,show_sys_files,allow_other
9. in some reported cases you may have to include the read only option "ro" but that has not been my case at any time
10. follow the FreeNAS User Guide for disk and partition mountin, you're set!

**One final note, which I still need to get back to the developers and help forum about -- if you restart your system then all the above item settings are lost. DO NOT FEAR, your data is intact but FreeNAS just isn't able to smartly identify how to recognize the drive. Just redo everything from Step#1 and you're good to go.

Good luck!

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