QNAP TS-109 II - First Impressions

Published: 2008-12-02 20:06 UTC. Tags: linux review ipv6 turbostation

I bought a second hand Squeezebox the other day. The Squeezebox must read its files from a server running Squeezecenter, and since I don't want my workstation running all day (it's consuming energy. I'm trying to be environmentally friendly when I can), I had to find a low-power alternative.

I have been thinking about getting some kind of server running at home for a while. There are other things I want it to do as well:

  • Keep a SixXS IPv6 tunnel up, and route an IPv6 subnet for home.
  • Be able to Wake-on-LAN my main workstation.
  • Get better network throughput than from my stupid 3com NAT box.
  • Etc, etc..

After some consideration, I bought a QNAP TS-109 II. It has a 500MHz ARM processor, 256Mb of RAM and consumes 14Watts of energy when active, 6,6W when not. That's quite OK. I bought a WD Caviar Green 500Gb hard drive for it. That drive is supposed to be quiet and energy efficient.

Another killer fact about the QNAP is that the upcoming Debian Lenny will have official support for all TurboStation models from QNAP. It's even listed as a press release on QNAP's webpage. The installation link from the press release doesn't seem to work anymore, though. The Debian on QNAP TS-109 pages are very helpful, though.

The QNAP + hard drive arrived today, and I unpacked and assembled the two (very easy), plugged it in, found its IP address from the list of DHCP entries in my NAT box, and tried to connect to it via a web browser on both port 80 and port 8080.

Unfortunately, I was met by a message in several languages basically telling me that "This box is not initialized, do what the manual says". And the manual says that you need a Windows computer to initialize the TS-109.

Doh!

I don't own a Windows computer!

Fortunately, my girlfriend has an XP box which I could use to run the "QNAP Finder" to install the QNAP. Still, I find this irritating. There's support for Mac as well, but I don't have any Mac neither.

I'm sure there's some way of initializing the device without Windows, but that might require lot's of knowledge on the RPC protocol used to talk to the device. Presumably, it's some kind of RPC over HTTP, as the only ports the device has open at initial startup is 80 and 8080.

Navigating around in the menus for a while, I was not surprised to see that running Debian on the machine would be the best option for me. Specifically:

  • There's no support for NFS on the TS-109 II. You need the TS-109 II Pro for that.
  • There's no network routing support in the standard firmware, and that's not surprising - this is a NAS box afterall. But with Linux and it's VLAN support and iptables, it should work well. We'll see about that... :-)
  • The configuration can't be easily handled via Puppet when running the standard firmware. That's something I do for other servers I manage.

Anyway, I think I'll be happy with this box. I might add an external eSATA enclosure later to provide backup of the stuff I keep on the QNAP. We'll see. Backing up stuff to Amazon S3 is another option.

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