I recently bought a HP Proliant Microserver Gen8. It was < £170 (because I bought it from a Spanish company though Amazon DE, in the UK it was about £15 more at the time), which makes it nearly as cheap as a two bay Synology NAS, but with much better hardware. You got to take care of the software yourself, though.
I bought mine with the main purpose (for now) of being an rsync server for my Synology NAS. I guess it would be much better to move everything to the HP Microserver, but I don’t have the disk capacity for such a transfer, plus it might be difficult (I haven’t checked) to backup to the Synology NAS because of their restrictive software (I won’t go into more details about all the restrictions I found in the past, many of them don’t seem to make sense). So here’s what I did to install NAS4Free on my HP Gen8 Microserver, and what I did to set it up as an rsync server.
1) Download x64 Live USB version
2) Copy image to USB stick
In OS X’s terminal
Find the USB stick so that you can unmount it …in my case disk2
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
Copy the image. Writing to rdisk is much faster than writing to disk
sudo dd if=Downloads/NAS4Free-x64-LiveUSB-10.1.0.2.1731.img of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=1m
If you don’t set the block size copying will take much(!) longer.
diskutil eject /dev/disk2
3) Boot Microserver from USB stick
In the Console Menu chose 9) Install/Upgrade from LiveCD/LiveUSB
4) Install the embedded version onto another USB stick
There is the idea that this will wear the USB stick out. It’s the cheapest option for me for now. Good USB sticks cost less then £5 and my system doesn’t seem to use the Swap partition. In the Console Menu under 2) I didn’t use DHCP. I want a fixed address, but want to set it up in NAS4Free, so that I don’t use the same IP in case I boot another OS / ESXi used 192.168.0.15/24 default gateway 192.168.0.1 used Google’s DNS 188.8.131.52 Didn’t configure IPv6
5) Access the web interface
Next I looked at the web interface, in my case at http://192.168.0.15 WebGUI Disks|Management Added my HDD (the plus icon on the right is for adding)
Formatted disk as ZFS
7) Disks|ZFS|Pools|Virtual device
I only have one drive, so I chose Stripe
Added a Pool , Apply The next step didn’t work initially. I think you have to reboot after creating the pool. It did work after I did a reboot.
Added a dataset where rsync is supposed to go. Enabled compression (hope that’s a good idea)
Added a user for the rsync task in the wheel group
Enabled this and mapped it to the user created in the previous step
Created a module, this will then be shown in the Synology NAS when you set up the rsync backup. Synology backups to the Microserver didn’t work initially when the user field was left empty. It worked after I set userid to root as mentioned at http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=5985
13) Set up the Synology NAS
Went to Synology: Backup & Replication Backup Destination – Create Network Backup Destination Backup – Create Backup and set a schedule
I’m just doing my first rsync backup and am getting 50MB/s (400 Mb/s) data transfer rates despite using compression and a long ethernet cable (of poor quality). That’s faster than expected, but I guess the reason it’s not even fast is the Synology station, not NAS4Free on the Gen8 Microserver. I changed power daemon settings in System Advanced, but haven’t tested what difference it actually makes in terms of power use. I also used power saving settings in hdd settings and changed Disks|Management|S.M.A.R.T. Power Mode to standby. Not sure whether I should turn that off, rsync will only need the HDD once a day. After the first backups of the different Synology shares have finished I want to activate Disks|ZFS|Snapshots|Auto Snapshot.