Load Me Up, Load Me Down
Mounting It from Linux
Using the Media Vault from a Linux box on a heterogeneous network is dead easy, so long as you have the relevant Samba packages installed. You'll need SMBFS support and Samba client support if you want to set your Media Vault shares to mount to your filesystem at bootup. In order to pull this off, I had to do a little detective work to discover the share names to plug in to fstab.
I used smbclient -L hpmediavault to grab the following shares list from the Media Vault:
Domain=[HPMEDIAVAULT] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.25b] Sharename Type Comment --------- ---- ------- Photos Disk Default_Photos Music Disk Default_Music Videos Disk Default_Videos Backup Disk Default_Backup Documents Disk Default_Documents IPC$ IPC IPC Service (HPMediaVault Server) Domain=[HPMEDIAVAULT] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.25b] Server Comment --------- ------- Workgroup Master --------- -------
Because there isn't a default ubershare, you'll have to add one line to your fstab for each share. So long as you have the proper Samba support installed, from here on out it's very easy. For each share, add a line as follows:
//hpmediavault/sharename /your/mountpoint/here smbfs ↪username=username,password=password,user,defaults 0 0
Note the use of the user-mountable flag—this is important if you expect to be able to write to the share at all. Samba mounts are picky about who mounted the drive, and most systems won't let users write to a mounted smbfs share unless they mounted it themselves.
That's not to say that all is wine and roses. There are a lot of niggling little problems with the HP Media Vault that keep it just on this side of perfect.
The first, and perhaps the most irritating, is that despite the easy kernel-level support for NFS, HP has chosen to strip this functionality from the Media Vault. The Media Vault only serves up files over Samba, and although Samba is nice, it requires extra tweaking and software installation for Linux and Mac clients compared to NFS. HP could have broadened its market at virtually zero expense simply by leaving NFS in the system.
HP also has, alas, not organized its documentation in a way that's particularly friendly to those of us who don't—or can't—use the included administration software. This is a shame, as administering all but the most advanced functions of the Media Vault is simple for anyone with a Web browser and an SSH connection. With a little digging around—and the help of the good folks at HP's Marketing department—I found the Web admin panel, enabled SSH, and got the server up and running. See the Configuration without Windows sidebar for instructions on how to configure your Media Vault if you want to do it the old-fashioned way.
To get full functionality out of the server, you have to use HP's bundled administration software, and this software doesn't play nice with most operating systems. More to the point, it plays nice only with Windows XP and Vista—it won't even install on Windows 2000 or older systems, and it doesn't work with Wine. This is a problem if you're wanting to use some of the more advanced newbie-friendly features, such as the iTunes server or the auto-generating photo albums and video playlists.
However, if you're willing to go without those things, most everything else can be accomplished from the Web admin panel. And, if you're a better hacker than I am, you can configure the iTunes server manually over SSH using the instructions on the Firefly home page (www.fireflymediaserver.org).
However, to my mind, the most egregious problem is that currently no firmware restore exits, nor any hardware reset, nor are there any operating system restore disks either bundled with the product or available for download. This means that if you screw up the system, you're screwed. And, as the root partition is writable, screwing this thing up while you're hacking it is easy. One misstep, and you've bricked the device, and there is no recourse short of shipping the item back to HP, and it's unclear whether the repair would be covered under warranty.
Configuration without Windows
For those of you who, like me, don't keep Vista or XP machines around, setting up the Media Vault is a bit more of an adventure. We simply don't have the option of using the bundled software without borrowing someone else's computer or breaking down and installing XP on machines that we've previously kept sacrosanct from MS Product Activation. This is how you set up all but the most advanced features of the HP Media Vault using SSH and a Web browser.
The first thing you need to do, after plugging the Media Vault in to your network and powering it on, is to find the IP address. As it comes set up to grab a DHCP lease automatically, the easiest way to do this is to log in to your router and find the most recent lease. Once you find the address, pull up that address in your Web browser. The browser screen is a fairly straightforward Webmin panel—it allows you to create users, access levels and directories, and to enable DLNA streaming on a per-directory basis.
In order to enable SSH access, you need to go into the System section, press Edit, and set your admin user name and password. The password you set becomes the root password for the box, and you now can log in via SSH. The user name and password you set also become the login info for the Web admin panel. The System section, by the way, is where you can set the LED brightness level and the hard disk spindown interval. While you're setting up access levels, you'll want to add a user (or a few users) appropriate to your environment in the User screen. Everyone gets access to the basic pre-allocated folders, and each user can create his or her own folders that you can set as private or shared, both through the Web admin panel and through regular permissions management.
The other thing you'll want to do immediately is to allocate the disks on the Disks page. By default, the MV5150 comes with one of the 700GB disks allocated and the other unallocated. You have the choice here to allocate the second disk as a RAID-1 mirror or to allocate it as additional disk space, resulting in 1.4TB of total space. This page is also where you can add external USB disks of the appropriate filesystem types.
Once you plug it in, you can, with a bit of jiggerypokery, find the thing with an SMB browser. It's actually non-obvious in some SMB browsing software (including some versions of Windows), but direct access can be had at smb://hpmediavault. The easy way to deal with this, of course, is to set up your workgroup information in the Network tab of the Web admin panel.
The last thing to do to get the system up and running is to set up the Web server by enabling remote access in the Remote Access tab. Annoyingly, it doesn't seem to work without a domain registration (free for a year, costing money after that), but checking this off allows the folders whose permissions you have set as browsable to be browsed from the Internet through a handy PHP interface. Hacking this thing so it'll serve up your documents without going through the activation process is pretty simple: SSH into the box, create a symlink in the /usr/htdocs folder to the /share/1000/ folder. You then can serve up files at http://myserver'sipaddress/symlink/sharefoldername/filename.
The last tab you'll want to check out is the Backup tab at the far right. This allows you to hook up a USB drive and do a selective backup—direct copy, not compressed—of selected directories. This process will wipe the destination drive, but it's nice to have the easy redundancy option with the processing performed locally on the Media Vault rather than clogging the network by copying between one remote share and another.