Easy DIY Network services – TrueNAS
This week I did the easiest, cleanest, most effective server upgrade of my life. For those who have tried to “upgrade” an operating system in place, using the system tools, you know that it’s usually better to install the new version on a fresh slate. For those who don’t, I’m talking about the kind of upgrade you do once every few years in Windows or Linux. It normally goes terribly.
But what does this have to do with the vauge and all encompassing “Network services”? The server in question was running freenas. Short recap: FreeNAS was an open source, BSD based, easy and flexible way to set up a NAS, “Network Attached Storage”. I had not checked on the project in a very long time and it seems to have merged with a similar project called TrueNAS. In fairness, setting up a NAS on a raspberry pi is not difficult. Here is how you do it in 3 commands. However, TrueNAS and FreeNAS before it, offer some key improvements that would normally take hours, if not days to correctly configure in an easy to use interface.
Let’s say you had a raspberry pi running for a few years already, acting as a data storage device in your house. Let’s say that the hard-drive you had connected to the raspberry pi that was holding your files died one day, taking Gigabytes, if not terabytes of important files with it. The way to avoid this is to use things like RAID, “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” so that all your data exists on not one disk, but two (or more). Another thing to do is have a program monitor the health of that hard-drive over time and warn you when the hard-drive starts to make mistakes, or respond slow (usually a sign the disk is not long for this world). Again, normally these things are difficult and time consuming tasks. In TrueNAS, it was a few clicks.
But this still probably seems a bit niche. Where TrueNAS really knocked my socks off was the other services that became trivial to install. Here is just a few items you can install with a grand total of two clicks:
-Your own VPN
-Your own Dropbox alternative
-Your own minecraft world hosting
-Your own Git repositories
-Your own security system
-Your own IOT hub
-Your own crypto-currency miners.
The Downside is, you’ll need something better than a raspberry pi to run it on. The minimum requirements aren’t crazy, but a better computer will do a better job. If you’ve got what you need, then here are some install instructions. Probably a hard task for a beginner, but not impossible, especially since the support documents are good, and their forums are active.