Papa's Got a Brand New NAS

Since the ODROID XU4 used USB3 instead of SATA, I started pricing out standalone USB3 enclosures for my existing hard drive. While I was looking up 3D-printed cases for the ODROID XU4, I noticed one particular project on Thingiverse where someone had come up with a design for a case that mounted your ODROID XU4 on an existing USB3 drive enclosure. This case was designed for the Mediasonic ProBox HF2-SU3S2, which was a four-drive USB3 and eSATA enclosure that ran about $100—around the amount of money I was going to spend on a few standalone USB3 enclosures for my 3.5" SATA drives.

More important with this enclosure than the price was that I realized since the drives would be presented to the computer individually, even though they were connected through a singular USB3 port, I could maintain the existing software RAID I had in place! No multiple levels of backups and restore or Linux software RAID voodoo to go through—I could just plug in and go like with my 1U eSATA array. That ease of migration pushed me over the edge, so even though I had a couple Banana Pis in the house, I decided to order an ODROID XU4 and the Mediasonic enclosure. I ended up printing out the special Mediasonic ODROID XU4 case while I was waiting on the hardware to arrive.

The Payback

The good thing about most ARM boards these days is they all tend to provide at least standard Debian images, so once my board arrived, it was simple to set up a Debian server similar to my existing one and port over all of my configuration files. The day I set up the big server move was actually pretty uneventful. Because my RAID configuration file already was copied over to the new server, it was just a matter of moving the drives to the new array and mounting it. The rest of my services worked out of the box after I copied the configuration files over.

The eight-core processor so far has been more than enough for all of the standard tasks I put my home server through, and this machine serves as a DNS server, secondary MX, home NAS and a number of other services without skipping a beat. I'm sure if I did a lot of media transcoding or something I might notice some slowdown with ARM versus a classic Intel processor, but after a few months with this new set up for all of the things I do, it seems more than adequate.

Really the main thing I miss on this new setup is virtualization. I have a particular image gallery I use to share pictures with my family, and it hasn't kept up with the times, so I've found myself having to run it in a virtual machine on an old version of Ubuntu Server. Also, I really wanted to set up a separate backup server instead of running my backups on the same main machine. Of course, I had those Banana Pis just lying around, so I was able to use one for my classic image gallery and attach a SATA drive to the other one and turn it into a nice standalone backup server for my important files.

Figure 1. My New Server Rack

The real payback on this solution though is in power savings. These ARM processors sip power compared to my old server, and I figure I'll be able to pay for the whole upgrade in power savings alone during the year. Plus, I ended up selling my old server cabinet and freed up a lot of space in my garage. This new solution fits on a shelf or two off in the corner. All in all, it's been nice to get with the times and use new, small, low-power hardware. Plus, I know if I have a hardware problem now, replacement hardware is low-cost and easy to come by.

Resources

ODROID XU4 Information Page: http://odroid.com/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=en:odroid-xu4

Mediasonic ODROID XU4 3D-Printed Case: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1125745

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Kyle Rankin is SVP of Security and Infrastructure at Zero, the author of many books including Linux Hardening in Hostile Networks, DevOps Troubleshooting and The Official Ubuntu Server Book, and a columnist for Linux Journal. Follow him @kylerankin