SSD boot drive for DIY Rockstor systems

Being engineers, we really like the DIY approach here at Rockstor. We have systems put together using components from old desktop servers running Rockstor in our various environments. Judging by the number of inquires we get via e-mail and our forum, there are many users out there building DIY NAS systems with Rockstor. The most frequently asked question is if Rockstor can boot from something like a USB drive. By doing so, all of the HDDs on the system can be exclusively allocated for data.

Whiles it’s possible to run Rockstor from a USB drive, we recommend a much faster solution while freeing up all your HDDs for data. All that’s required of your motherboard is a PCI-Express slot to house a mSATA III + SSD boot drive. We’ve been running this setup for a while on some of our systems and so are some others in the community. So we decided to offer it in our shop.

PCI-Express(x1) mSATA III (6G) boot drive (16/32 GB)

It’s available in both 16GB and 32GB capacities which is plenty considering it doesn’t take more than a few GB to run Rockstor. Here are some feature highlights of this boot drive.

  • Provides extra SATA III port for additional storage devices (hot-pluggable)
  • 14K random 4KB read IOPs
  • 19K random 4KB write IOPs
  • TRIM and SMART support

The card meets PCI express specification rev 2.0 and plugs into an x1, x2, x4, x8 or x16 slot, one of which can be found on pretty much any motherboard. Besides running a pretty fast Rockstor system with this boot drive, you’ll be supporting our effort and make it easier for us to support you by running Rockstor on familiar hardware. So head on over to our shop and get one today!

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Rockstor on ASUS VivoPC

I recently purchased the ASUS VivoPC. I really was intrigued by this device because of it’s small size. This little device is 7.48 x 2.21 x 7.48 inches which fits perfectly in my entertainment center, where my router is located. It has 4 USB 3.0 slots as well, so I can attach external drives without having to worry about slow read/write speeds. The plan is to attach a few external USB drives and let Rockstor handle the rest.

Specs

  • 1.4 GHz Celeron 2957U
  • 4 GB SDRAM DDR3
  • 500 GB Serial ATA
  • 802.11 ac Wifi
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • 4x USB 4.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI and DP

Use Case

To give some background about myself, I’m a pure windows user, and a novice one at that. I am an embedded developer who uses very low powered microcontrollers, so megabytes are unimaginatively big in my world. But I do have storage problems like the regular smartphone users out there and I’ve recently used 98% of my Google Drive account.  I don’t see why I should pay to store all my files when I can have a setup of my own, so I’ve decided to give Rockstor a try.

IMG_20150627_133326 IMG_20150627_133549

Bootable USB Drive

Install was fairly easy once I knew what to do. For windows users, it’s best to download Rawrite32 and use that make a bootable flash drive. The other options from the Quick Start Guide is DD for Windows and it didn’t work for me. I also tried PenDriveLinux but no luck. So just stick with rawrite32 and you’ll be fine.

UEFI BIOS Settings

To install Rockstor on the VivoPC, you need to do the following:

  1. Press F2 or Delete during start-up to enter the UEFI utility.
  2. Go to the “Boot” tab.
  3. Fast Boot = Disabled.
  4. Go to “Secure Boot”. Change OS Type to Other OS.
  5. Go to CMS (Compatibility Support Module).
  6. Boot Device Control = Legacy OPROM only.
  7. Boot from Network Devices = Legacy OPROM only (maybe not needed).
  8. Boot Option #1 = Select your flash drive.

Save your changes and exit. Now you should be able to boot from your USB drive. Once you do that, everything is a breeze, just go through the installer and remove your USB drive on reboot. In the installer make sure you erase all the windows partitions. Once you reboot, you should go to the UEFI utility just to make sure your boot option is back on your hard drive.

Once the VivoPC has booted up, it displays the IP address on your local network. Just point your browser to the IP address and go through the setup wizard. I’m using a wired connection for maximum throughput, but the VivoPC can be setup for a wireless connection as well. After going through the setup wizard, your all set!

To get started I attached a 1TB USB 3.0 external drive to test out:

img_20150713_201354

 

The UI is very intuitive, but it’s also useful to go through the documentation as needed. I created a Share and exported it via Samba. It was visible on my windows file browser as expected. To access the share, just point windows explorer to the IP address. Once you do that you’ll see the share available.  I was able to transfer files and access them very easily.

SMB_share

It is important to note, you will need to login using your Rockstor credentials. In my case I used the admin user. More than just accessing my files over Samba, I want to make this device as a small personal home cloud for my family to use. Now that I have Rockstor installed, I wanted to try out new Rock-ons. Especially OwnCloud and Plex.

In my next post, I’ll write about how you can use Samba and OwnCloud together and use this little box both as a NAS device and a personal cloud storage server.

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