Building a Home FreeNAS Server - Sundry Hardware

Submitted by nigel on Wednesday 8th August 2012

The remaining hardware fell into place relatively easily. There were precious few decisions to be made - it was a case of what I had, I used.

Chassis: Generic Tower Case
Chassis: Generic Tower Case

I bought this case in 2007 at a PC shop on Streatham High Street. It was the cheapest chassis the shop had in stock - £30 - and the proprietor looked at me with contempt and disdain for selecting it. I have never worked on it without either skinning a knuckle or cutting myself on one of its many sharp, unfinished edges. At least the wounds are always clean cuts and heal easily! The case offers 5 slots of 3.5" drives and 4 for 5.25" drives (such as optical). All of the drive power plugs are of the obsolete Molex format, but over the years I've bought converters to the newer SATA format.

The side of the case where the motherboard is screwed in is offset with cable runs underneath to make it easier to keep cabling tidy. At the front of the case there are a couple of USB2 ports but Firewire is strangely missing (or maybe not considering the heritage and price).

Monitor: 15" AOC LM520A
Monitor: 15" AOC LM520A

Now here's proof that a server needs nothing more than the most rudimentary monitor. This flat-screen 15" monitor was bought from a Weybridge PC shop in 2004 for a price I cannot remember. These are fetching the princely sum of £14.50 on eBay at the moment! The resolution goes to a maximum of 1024x768px but that is more than adequate to follow the boot log in VGA!

Keyboard: Systemax 102 keys
Keyboard: Systemax 102 keys

I have no idea about the provenance of this keyboard. I do know it's very old with obviously the obsolete PS2 Keyboard connector and not the more modern USB. Believe it or not, I've worked at client sites and had to use keyboards in poorer condition than that - eeuuuwww!! Note - there is no requirement for the mouse in the picture.

Memory: DDR2
Memory: DDR2

I was a little surprised by the lack of DDR memory I could rustle up - a mere 4MB. I thought I had more; perhaps I didn't look hard enough. Any rate, by sheer serendipity the 3 sticks have identical specifications. However, I don't believe it would be worthwhile to use all 4GB in the server.

Memory Decision

Use the 2GB Kingston memory + 1GB Corsair memory, keeping 1GB aside for another project.

Disk Drives: Western Digital SATA 2TB WD20EARX
Disk Drives: Western Digital SATA 2TB WD20EARX

Disk drives have become commodity items and it is relatively inexpensive to build a system with a decent amount of capacity. Since the intention is to RAID5 the disks together, I will be left with 4TB capacity after redundancy. For that reason I have ensured the drives are identical. They are all SATA3 specification offering 6 Gbit/s transfer. Unfortunately my motherboard doesn't support that throughput. Thankfully, the SATA specification is backwards compatible and will work ok on my SATA2 motherboard. For the application I will be using the server, I don't believe that having a SATA3 configuration throughout would justify the additional costs

Memory Stick: SanDisk Cruzer Edge 2GB
Memory Stick: SanDisk Cruzer Edge 2GB

There are a number of ways of booting the BSD-based NAS server. Putting the server software on CD is a popular option, but for the best in flexibility and ability to save configuration data, a 2GB minimum USB memory stick is optimal. As it happens, I bought a 2GB SanDisk memory stick earlier in the year for transporting music from my then-girlfriend's laptop to mine. It cost £5 and since it is currently unused, it was press-ganged into this project

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