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Dr. Hain's various/sundry pages have helpful information about things that Dr. Hain has discovered by trial and error.

NAS systems -- QNAP 563, TR-004

Also see: Synology NAS review

QNAP 563

Losing patience with the Synology boxes, I experimented with a QNAP device - -learning from past mistakes, I started with a fast box, avoiding an ARM processor, that could take a 16 gigs of memory, and had 5 slots - -the 563. I think the mistake here was in not getting an even bigger box -- an 8 slot QNAP with a fast processor and 16 gig of memory - -would be a better idea. The idea here is safety --you want LOTS of hard disk drives, that can be run in a very safe RAID configuration (5), and two SSD drives. You end up spending quite a bit on hard disk drives, but it is effective and safe. Upgrading the memory was the most stressful part - -but not too bad. I bought this box from Egghead -- who shipped me one drive that was DOA (dead on arrival). Probably a good idea with Egghead to order a couple of extra hard disk drives - -you will eventually need them anyway.

The QNAP operating system - -Qdir or something like that -- really just a customized Linux, is pretty but it doesn't seem quite as debugged as the Synology flavor of Linux. We are not sure if it would be a good idea for an business. On the other hand, if you run containers, you can dodge the QNAP operating system (see below).

The higher-end QNAP's support virtualization. This is a wonderful idea, as it gets the QNAP operating system off of your radar screen. It is very possible to run a Linux Ubuntu image -- you don't have to worry about Qnap upgrading something and breaking it. It is deadly slow though (see container discussion below).

QNAP has some of the same problems as Synology, but even worse. Their "cloudstation" equivalent doesn't work either. Again, your best bet is to ignore all of the "perks" on these boxes and just use them to serve files. Dont think (for example) that you can use the QNAP web server safely - -you have no control of this server -- it will install it's own versions of PHP or whatever. Not safe at all.

With the virtualization software, you can run Linux standard software, and you don't have to worry about strange NAS software. However, it seems a bit heavy on the resource side (i.e. terribly slow). The "container" method may work even better as it is basically a small virtual machine.

QNAP TR-004

Recently, QNAP released another device intended to extend the number of disks available to the QNAP NAS, or independently of the NAS. The TR-004 has slots for 4 disk drive, a RAID controller, and a fast USB connector. I bought one of these because my QNAP 563 was running out of space -- in Raid 10, you put in 10 TB of disk, you end up with 5 TB. It seemed to me that the upgrade process for the 563 -- i.e. putting in a bigger hard disk, was pretty risky given that most recommend starting with "back everything up" -- really, back up 5 TB ? To what ?

Well anyway, I put in a few extra hard drives into the TR-004, and tried to figure out what to do with it. I had to experiment quite a bit. One method of using the box is as an "extension" of the QNAP-563. In other words, if the QNAP-563 goes south, so does your outboard disk array. I decided this was dumb.

Another method is to set it up as just an external disk array with a Raid controller. This seemed a little more sensible to me, and I set it up as two separate Raid-10 "disks", which are very fast. Then, I started copying stuff from the QNAP-563 over to this outboard box. The advantage of this method is if the QNAP 563 goes down, I will still have this backup. If the TR-004 disk goes down, well it is just a backup anyway. So problem fixed !

This guy is still running OK as of 1/18/2020.

QNAP Container station and Linux Station(1/18/2020)

I started with the "Linux Station", and I installed Ubuntu. This was some sort of badger distribution. Very appropriate I think. Wow is this SLOW. It does work (i.e. it boots up a Ubuntu 18.4 desktop). I couldn't figure out anything it was good for. It doesn't have a command line prompt (e.g. shell). Without a shell, Linux is good for almost nothing. So it looks as if the "Linux Station" is useless, at least with the Ubuntu 18.4 image.

In an attempt to get a command line prompt, I used the already installed Container station to install a Docker image of Ubuntu. Equally useless. I couldn't get the Docker badger to do very much.

A common feature to the installation of container images seems to be security issues -- they seem to come up useless, and require some fiddling to get them functional (possibly not documented very well).

I got rid of that, and installed an "LXC" image of Ubuntu. LXC and Docker are competitors. Docker seems to be intended to install specific functions (maybe mysql), but not entire operating systems. LXC uses the "underlying operating system", suggesting that it might be faster and smaller but more vulnerable.

I chose the "Xenial" distribution, as I had already had several bad experiences with the "badger" 18.4 distributions. This worked rather quickly (i.e. almost instantly), but needed a whole bunch of "tweaks" under the hood. Several of these are easily found online.

The major one is that one needs to edit the "/etc/hostname" table so that the Unix system knows its own name. It defaults as "ubuntu-xenial-1", but in the hosts table it is listed as "ubuntu-xenial". This has to be changed to ubuntu-xenial-1 (I used vi). This page https://askubuntu.com/questions/59458/error-message-sudo-unable-to-resolve-host-none is helpful. Vi is installed as an editor in xenial "out of the box". I suppose the -1 is used in case one wants several different ubuntu-xenial's running, but as it doesn't work it suggests that Qnap did not test out their modification to see if it worked (shame).

I also followed several of the suggestions of https://matthewstyles.com/setup-lxc-ubuntu-server-using-qnap-container-station/. I installed "ssh", as well as "mysql-server". I created another user (myself), and gave myself su privleges. This is needed for mysql.

The ssh installation allows one to access the console of your container from putty. This works fine and gives you a more standard interface to your console than the container interface through QNAP. Seems like a very good idea.

© Copyright January 19, 2020 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved.
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