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Installing a NAS on a Raspberry PI (OpenMediaVault)

It seems I’ve been on a roll the last couple of weeks/days 🙂

Recently my DROBO died and then I installed NAS4Free on my Home Server to serve our storage needs at home.

Well, we’re going on holiday soon and we need to take some of the media content we have with us !

So I had the following hardware available:

  • Raspberry Pi 3+
  • 2.5″ 500GB external drive (powered)
  • Apple TV
  • iPads
  • MacBook Air

What to do, what to do ?

🙂

Well, I tried installing Plex on the Raspberry Pi and although it worked “okay” it could not keep up with the transcoding process 😦

So I had a couple of options:

  • transcode ALL the content to something usable [very time consuming]
  • have the content available on the network and do the transcoding ON the device you’re using
    • iPad
    • OSX
    • Windows 10
    • etc.

Well, I opted for the latter (well – it’s a proof of concept at the moment)

Looking around I found the following NAS software for the Raspberry Pi (OpenMediaVault)

OpenMediaVault runs on Debian Linux (Jessie) and they have a Raspberry Pi 3 image to download (here)

Installation is fairly simple:

  • download the image
  • write it to your SD card (I recommend Etcher)
  • Boot up the Raspberry Pi and let the configuration complete
  • The setup will then tell you which IP address to connect to (in my instance it was 192.168.1.10) [I forced the Router to have a static IP address for the Raspberry Pi – makes it easier in the long-run]
  • Using your browser, connect to the IP address specified
  • Use admin/openmediavault (remember to change the password)
    • OpenVault_Login
  • Use the Web Interface to add your devices (I have an external USB drive (500GB), which I mounted)
    • OpenMediaVault_Drives
  • Once mounted, you have need to SHARE this drive on the network
  • Under Services ->SMB/CIFS you need to enable the service
  • Once enabled, go to Shares and configure the Share (defaults are fine)
    • I allowed GUEST access to make it easier and it’s contained to my local network
    • OpenMediaVault_Shares
  • That’s it !

OpenMediaVault_Stats

The plan for the holiday is to have the Raspberry Pi connected to our 3G/LTE router and use the router as a local WiFi hotspot.

With the Raspberry Pi connected directly to the router, we won’t have WiFi lag, but then we’ll be able to connect to the NAS over WiFi and AirPlay from our iPads or MacBooks to our Apple TV (3rd Gen), or lie in bed in the evening and catch-up on some series on our iPads (I recommend VLC Mobile).

We’ll use AirPlay as it looks like to easiest option at the moment to play content on the TV.

OpenMediaVault has quite a couple of plug-ins you can enable on it – one of which is a Plex Media Server.

My initial tests showed me what I suspected – the Raspberry Pi 3+ (although more powerful than previous iterations) just can’t keep up with the transcoding process – so I disabled that feature again 😦 [especially when the content is 720p or 1080p]

There are a lot of plug-ins to choose from and as I need more time to investigate, I’ll have to report back on my findings in future.

For now it seems we’re set for an OpenMediaVault-RaspberryPi-NAS configuration to stream our content to which-ever device we want 🙂

Like always – HAVE FUN !

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Installing a NAS at home using NAS4Free on an HP N40L Mini Server

Recently my DROBO Gen 1 storage device “died” and I was looking for a solution to cater for our media needs (cord-cutter) – movies, TV series, etc. using Plex Media Server to serve it up to our devices in the home.

I also needed a storage area for our day-to-day photo usage, software needs, etc.

The basic requirement was for as much storage as possible, with great speed and easy access on multiple devices (windows/mac/ios/etc.)

I had the following hardware available:

  • HP N40L mini server (more details) with 4GB RAM
  • 2 x 3.5″ 1TB SATA drives
  • 1 x 3.5″ 2TB SATA drive

After some investigation on the web, I found this great piece of software – NAS4Free – which suited my needs and hardware perfectly.

NAS4Free is built on FreeBSD and has multiple features “in-the-box”.

Installing it was a cinch !

  • Basically, download the Live-USB image
  • Extract the image
  • Write the image to USB device (your installation device)
  • Boot from (installation) USB device
  • Follow the prompts and select “9” to install on to (another) USB flash disk (the one you’ll use to boot your server)
  • Installation is quick & easy and once done, remove installation USB drive – insert the actual USB boot device into your server and switch on !

I opted to install the software on a USB flash disk (4 GB is fine), which the HP server allows you to do (there is an internal USB slot for booting your OS).

This opened up the 4 internal drive slots for storage use, ideal for my requirement.

Once the USB boot device was configured, I shut the system down and installed the drives into the slots in the HP server. (using 3 of the 4 available)

I then proceeded to boot the server and started the configuration – all done via web interface (once you boot, the server screen will tell you what the IP address is and you use admin / nas4free as username/password [remember to change it !])

NAS4Free-login

Setup is fairly easy and all the instructions can be followed form here

Once you have the basics done, it’s time to add your drives

Go to Disks -> Management and add the drives you have to the system. NAS4Free supports ZFS storage (which is apparently a great system 🙂 )

LazyNAS-Drives

NOTE:
Please note I made a conscious decision here
– I wanted the MOST drive space at the fastest rate – so I created a single volume, stacking all my drives together.

THIS IS RISKY !
If one of the drives fail, then the whole pool fails …

Typically you’d rather create a pool as a mirror or RAID-X, or something and ensure you have redundancy.

ZFS-options

My aim though was to have a much space available as possible, fast access times and I’ll manage backups separately. (well that’s my initial thoughts 🙂 )

Once the drives are accessible to NAS4Free, you need to create a Virtual Device which contains your drives (under the ZFS menu).

Then you add your drives to the Virtual Device and your NAS has space available.

NOW you need to share this on your network.

Easy with NAS4Free 🙂

Go to Services -> CIFS/SMB (especially if you have Windows devices on your network)

Configure the settings under the settings page (defaults are fine and you just Save&Restart to get going).

Create a SHARE – once you’ve enabled CIFS/SMB.

SMB-Shares

This is easy – create a name, select the mount point on the pool and “Bob’s your uncle” … it’s available to use !

One of the easiest software configurations I’ve had in a while and after about 2-3 weeks I can report that the system is performing amazingly well.

Side note:

Yes, I know … I’m running the risk of loosing a drive (similar to my DROBO experience) and then loosing ALL the content on the NAS.

I do have a plan though … I have 1 slot open in the HP Server and plan on getting another 2TB (maybe 3TB 🙂 ) drive to put in there – then I’ll mirror/sync the (important) content to that drive … but for now I’m VERY HAPPY with NAS4Free !

That’s all folks !

Like always, have fun !

🙂

Free File Sync – great tool to keep files in sync

As I mentioned in my post about our DROBO dying, part of my recovery process involved copying all the files (I could recover) from the device onto an external device.

As the DROBO was acting up, I could not use standard copy/paste as it would stop during the process and you weren’t sure which files copied vs. which did not ! 😦

Using FreeFileSync (www.freefilesync.org), my troubles were much less! (software worked fine – amount of data caused headaches)

I could select multiple folders at a time and then sync them to an external device. FreeFileSync would copy the files, verify that they actually copied and move on. It was a slow process, but in the end I moved around 1.2TB of data this way !

The time-consuming work was to select multiple folders at a time and clicking sync (I was too scared to select ALL of them at once, so opted for a set of folders at a time but this meant I had to spend a lot of time on it).

The nice feature for FreeFileSync is that you can save a “configuration” – so if you set up folders to sync, you could save this configuration for future use. I did exactly that when the DROBO acted up between copy processes – then all I had to do was reload the last config and rerun the sync – it would only copy the files not yet copied, while checking file size, etc. to ensure the files went across correctly.

I can certainly recommend FreeFileSync as it’s cross-platform and works very well.

FreeFileSync saved my life … well, almost 😉

Apple Mac, Raspberry Pi and the ApplePi-Baker – a match made in heaven !

I recently stumbled on a utility called “ApplePi-Baker” which is the IDEAL little tool to write your Raspberry Pi IMG files to an SD card.

This cool utility allows you to format your SD card, write images to the SD card AND lets you make a back-up of your working Pi SD card.

Very cool tool ! 🙂

I can certainly recommend this to any Raspberry Pi enthusiast using a Mac 🙂

Download here

Like always – Have fun !

 

 

How to install EOS Utility if you can’t find your CD anymore …

So I needed to install the Canon EOS Utility program on my MacBook recently in order to load a new colour profile (Technicolor Cinestyle) onto my Canon 7D, but I could not find the media (CD) which came with my Canon EOS.

As always, the power of the internet is amazing and I found some useful links to people who had experienced the same issue.

I’m not going to re-hash the process as it’s well documented here:

 

I found that it worked best if you download the EOS Utility 2.14.0 under the OSX 10.7 (Lion) section, edit the install as per the instructions in link above and then install.

MacOSX10.7

EOS Utility 2.14

Once installed, download the updated for OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) and it will update your installation.

Have fun !

 

 

Convert your H.264 footage to ProRes 422 easily

My Canon 7D shoots video in .mov format, using the H.264 codec.

This is not the best format for editing and as part of my video workflow process, I convert the footage to the Apple ProRes 422 codec before starting with my editing process.

Fortunately this conversion can be automated to convert a batch of videos at once, using a FREE tool from Squared 5 called MPEG Streamclip.

Although the software is fairly old, it still runs well on my Mac using OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) without any issues.

The 1st step you have to follow is to ensure you have the Apple ProRes 422 codec on your machine (covered in one of my previous posts) and then  install MPEG Streamclip.

Once you have MPEG Streamclip installed, open it up and select the “List – Batch List” option (Cmd-B).

List-Batch

This will open up the Batch List Box – now just drag & drop your original footage in here

Batch-List

in the window that pops up, select “Export to QuickTime”

ExportToQT

Select your destination folder for the output and then configure the information for export.

ExportSettings

For my footage I select:

  • Apple ProRes 422 LT
  • Quality: 100%
  • Frame Size: 1920 x 1080 (unscaled)
  • leave the rest on default settings

Click on “To Batch” and this will add all to the queue to be processed.

Queue

Now click on the “Go” button to process this queue.

Conversion should be fairly quick & “Hey Presto!” you now have your footage in Apple ProRes 422 format which is easier to work with in an NLE editor (like Adobe Premiere, Hitfilm 3, Da Vinci Resolve, etc.)

Be aware that this does create a COPY of all your footage and that it may be a bit larger than the original H.264 .mov files – so make sure you have enough space 🙂

Have fun !

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