I’ve built several Rockstor NAS servers since I’ve been developing Rockstor. Rockstor 3 was released in early september of this year and we are glad to see more users every day since. All the while, my Rockstor NAS boxes on old dell and hp boxes with different amounts of accumulated dust are chugging along.
They work great, one of them even powers our live demo.
It’s time to build something new primarily to give our super-home and small business users a reference when building their own Rockstor NAS box. After researching various motherboard and cpu options, I’ve decided to keep things simple. The goal is not to build the cheapest system, but a decent one with parts that have credibility in the DIY NAS community. So I based my build on this technutz post which also gives us the opportunity to compare Rockstor with FreeNAS, the OS choice in that article.
Here is the list of parts.
Motherboard+CPU combo: ECS Elitegroup NM70-I Celeron 1037
[EDIT: the above motherboard is discontinued. Here’s the nextgen version of it. NM70-I2]
Memory: Crucial 8GB Single DDR3 1333 MT/s
Case+PSU: Chenbro SR30169 Tower Case SR30169T2-250
4 x 2TB NAS hard drives: WD Red 2 TB NAS Hard Drive
16GB USB stick: SanDisk Cruzer 16GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Note about RAM: The motherboard takes 1333Mz DDR3 RAM, so make sure you get the right speed. It failed to recognize a faster(1600 MT/s) SO-DIMM. With the correct RAM, it took about 30 minutes to assemble the box and it was ready for the Rockstor install.
BIOS notes: I went over every screen in the BIOS and changed a couple of settings. The important one is to enable AHCI mode in SATA configuration which lets you hotswap drives on the running system.
Rockstor requires one full disk drive for the operating system. So the choice is either to use one of the SATA drives or boot from a USB stick. There are mixed opinions about running Linux from USB. There two clear disadvantages: (1) OS runs slowly from USB compared to SATA (2) USB sticks incrementally deteriorate or suddenly crash one day. I’d like to experiment and find out how it works and in the worst case scenario, I’ll just reinstall Rockstor on a new USB stick. My actual data on the SATA drives will still be untouched.
I plugged the network cable, power chord, keyboard, mouse, external cdrom and started Rockstor install. It was a bit slow installing to the USB, but no other problems were encountered.
Note about USB bootup: I noticed that sometimes, upon reboot the system doesn’t recognize the usb stick. Just remove it, plug it back in and reboot. This worked every time I saw this problem. Also, reboots are rare and this did not happen on every reboot. so, small pain for extra hard drive space.
Rockstor has been running great on this little box. It’s the smallest and quietest 8TB Rockstor NAS box I know. As part of Rockstor testing, I am sure to stress test this box, gather performance metrics etc.. I’ll share my findings in future posts. Please submit your comments and feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org