Archive for October, 2012

OpenWRT ntpclient & ntpd

I’ve been very happy with OpenWRT for a long time.  Tonight, I decided I wanted to use it as an NTP server, since I figured it should be capable..  And though this blog entry is pretty short, it took me about an hour to figure this out, searching around… I won’t go into detail about all the things I tried (installing the openntpd package, the ntpd package, etc), but it took a long time for something that turned out to be pretty simple.

OpenWRT includes an ntpclient that works pretty good…  According to some posts I read, you could also turn it into an NTP server by changing the line:

local args=”-n”

to:

local args=”-n -l”

in the /etc/rc.d/S98sysntpd file…

I tried it, rebooted, but it didn’t seem to work…  I still had “ntpclient” running and NOT listening on UDP 123…

Dug into it further, and it appears that S98sysntpd isn’t what was starting ntpclient.  That is started by:

/etc/hotplug.d/iface/20-ntpclient

This is probably a bad way of fixing it, but I added an “exit” near the top of that file, along with a comment about why I did it.  I didn’t want to “permanently” break this, in case I found an issue with using the NTP server and wanted to put this back…

Anyhow, after doing that and rebooting, the S98sysntpd script is able to start ntpd with the option to run as a server.

Hopefully this can save someone else an hour or so…

 

October 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

And the Reaver comes for you…r wirless network

Reaver is the name of a tool that has recently become quite popular.  It allows for the cracking of WPA and WPA2 passwords for access points/routers that support WPS.   WPS stands for Wi-fi Protected Setup and is supported by a large number of wireless routers made by the most popular consumer brands:  Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, and many more.  This feature is essentially a very easy way to setup your devices on your wireless network.  If your wireless router has a button to depress to let you set up devices quickly and easily, then you’ve got WPS.

The downside?  At present, WPS can’t really be turned off on the majority of routers, and on some that do offer to to let you disable it, it doesn’t really turn it off!

So along comes this new tool, Reaver, which can use a flaw in WPS to crack the WPA/WPA2 passwords of most consumer grade wireless routers.  It may take a few hours, to perhaps a day, but if you have WPS on your router, Reaver can most likely crack it.  And if someone was looking to do something seriously illegal (like hack the FBI, or download child porn), what’s a day waiting around to make sure they it would trace back to YOU instead of them?

The good news is if your model of router supports the popular DD-WRT firmware, you can just load that and you don’t have to worry about anyone cracking your password, as it doesn’t support WPS at all.

But, perhaps if you are going to make a change, you should look at the possibility of upgrading to an Enterprise Authentication mechanism…  I just so happen to have a very good tutorial on how to set up OpenWRT right here.

That tutorial is for a specific model, but similar models would probably be nearly identical (once you download the right version of OpenWRT firmware for your device), and different makes would most likely only differ by the interfaces…

October 21, 2012 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

Time Machine on a Synology NAS

Time Machine is something that seems to give the NAS user fits.

Soon after Time Machine was available, I did some hacks to make it work across a network on a Sparse disk.  After a while, various NAS makers officially supported Time Machine, but the support wasn’t very good.

The ReadyNAS method, for instance, allows you to select a max size for your TM backups.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a max for all the machines you backup to the NAS.  At one point, I read one tip that said to start with your smallest capacity drive, and set your limit to the amount you wish that backup to be restricted to.  Next, get that Time Machine job running, so it creates the sparse file (limited to the size you selected).  Then, go back and increase the size for the next machine you want to backup, and repeat this process for each machine.  This supposedly sets the max size for each sparse file to the size you specified in the ReadyNAS Web interface as you created each file.  In practice, I’m not sure this works very well  because my Mac still showed more space available that he was theoretically limited to.

I read that the best method with a Synology NAS was to split your drive space up into multiple volumes, and dedicate a single volume to Time Machine.  I don’t quite see the logic in doing this, as you are taking one of the main advantages of a NAS (gobs of storage, all in a big pool), and splitting it up.

The best method I found for doing this (with DSM 4.1, in my case) is to simply create a new Shared Folder, which I called “Time Machine”.  Then, set it as your Time Machine share (under Mac File Service on the Win/Mac/NFS panel).  Finally, go to the Users page, and add a new user for each machine you wish to backup.  I named them after the machine they were created for, with “TM” on the end of the machine name.  While creating the users, make sure not to put them in the Administrators group, and set the quota for the amount of space you wish to have as the Max for that machine.  I generally set this to about twice the capacity of the machine, but I’ve seen suggestions of three times or more.

With this method, each machine sees only the amount of space available for backups that you’ve specified as their Quota.  Since it’s all on one Volume, whatever you haven’t used for TM backups is available for use by the other shares, so you aren’t locking yourself into a size, as you would be if you hard defined a volume for TM backups.

One Note:  It appears that the Quotas define GB based on 1024, instead of 1000.  This means that if you specify a quota of 700 GB, you’ll end up closer to 750 GB shown as available on your Mac.

October 17, 2012 at 11:14 pm 1 comment

Why I am moving to a Synology DS1512+

I’ve had a ReadyNAS NV+ and currently use a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer.  The NV+ was a great NAS in its day.  The Pro still is a pretty great NAS.

Right after they came out, I bought a Drobo-FS for one reason.  The ability to mix and match commodity drives.  The big thing it had going for it was the fact that you didn’t need to have Enterprise (READ:EXPENSIVE) drives.  And, you could mix them, a big No-No in the RAID world.

Even my venerable ReadyNAS Pro needed all drives to be identical.  This made for very good performance, but made for costly upgrades.  In my case, I planned for upgrading…  I started with three 750 GB RE3 drives in my Pro, but soon needed more space.  I could have bought 3 more 750 GB space, adding about 2 TB to my array, giving me about 3.5 TB total RAID capacity.  The problem with this approach is when you are upgrading drives (the only way to upgrade once you have reached the maximum number of drives in the Pro), you have to upgrade ALL of the drives in the array.  Thinking ahead, I bought three 2 TB drives  (4 TB of RAID capacity).  The idea was that if I wanted more room, I could just add another drive.  But when that time came, I’m thinking about the same issues that I had when I went from 750 GB drives to 2 TB drives, wondering if I shouldn’t just buy 3 new 3 TB drives instead to preserve some upgrade room.

So, I didn’t keep the Drobo-FS for very long.  The performance was similar to my old NV+, but after using the Pro as my main NAS, waiting on the Drobo-FS seemed almost painful.

Anyhow, I have been mulling over a capacity upgrade for some time, when I recently read about the good performance numbers of the DS1512+.  Looking closer, I found that their SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) supports mixed drive types, just like the Drobo-FS, but the DS1512+ performance is even faster than the Pro.  I was intrigued.

After using the demo website, I found that the GUI interface is light years ahead of the Netgear product line.  The packages system is what I would have liked to see happened with Netgears “Add-ons”.   Netgear recently put out a press release touting their line of products for video surveillance.  I think they may have gotten the idea from Synology, as they have a very well developed package just for that.

I honestly think that Netgear bought Infrant while they were “on top”, and then Netgear played it safe with the ReadyNAS product, keeping things practically identical from the software perspective, while working on adding to the hardware line-up.  While their product line has expanded, the software has not changed very much, on the surface at least.  Since the ReadyNAS uses software RAID just like the Synology, I would think it should be capable of the same tricks.  Perhaps some future version will, if Netgear has deemed it a valuable feature and invested the time to develop the software to handle those situations.

The Synology supports Link Aggregation and AD integration, two features that weren’t on my Pro Pioneer, which was around 50% more expensive than this Synology.  I believe there is now a “hack” available that lets you enable Link Aggregation on the ReadyNAS.

The DS-1512+ has one great feature the ReadyNAS doesn’t – expansion units…  Plug a cable from a DS-1512+ into up to two of their expansion units and suddenly you could have a 15 drive array.    Not that I think I’ll ever need that level of expansion, but if I do, it’s there.

According to what I’ve read online, these are very solid units (in terms of recovery).  With the mixed media ability (even mix between 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch drives!), this Synology unit should take care of my data for the next 4-5 years with no problem…

October 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

NAS move almost complete

Between last night and tonight, I’ve moved all the real data (other than Time Machine backups) off of my ReadyNAS and onto my DS1512+.

Initially, I started my DS1512+ with three 750 GB drives, giving me about 1.3 TB of redundant capacity.  My initial copy with 800 GB.  Then I started moving things over in smaller chunks.  I had about 300 GB left when I added a WD RED 1 TB drive, bringing me up to about 2 TB of redundant capacity.

One thing I thought MIGHT be challenging was moving the SageTV Recordings directory.  This has occasionally been tricky for me in the past, but this time it was just so easy.  I simply added the “final” location on the DS1512+ as a Recording directory within SageTV, then shut it down and moved a few recording files over.  Note: MOVED,  not just copied.  I restarted SageTV to find that those recordings were found in their new location and could be watched.  So, I shut SageTV down again and moved the rest of the files over, then started it back.  My HD200 didn’t see the SageTV server right away (it was probably busy scanning for the moved content), but after a minute or two, it came to life, and it appeared that all the recordings I moved over were still there.  Finally, I removed the ReadyNAS as a Recording location in SageTV, then restarted SageTV again (to ensure that setting was saved off – probably not needed, but just making sure).

The rest of the moves went easily, and all but about 258 GB of my storage was used.  I then removed one of the 2 TB drives from the ReadyNAS, formatted it with my USB drive, and popped it into the DS.  If my calculations are right, this should boost me to about 3.2 TB of redundant storage.  After everything is “good” again, I’ll get Time Machine set up and running from my various machines…  Once they are all backed up to the DS, I can remove the other two drives from the ReadyNAS and (one at a time, of course) swap out two of the 750 GB drives.  When everything is done, I should have 5.7 TB of redundant storage.

October 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Synology DS1512+ Memory Upgrade

Why upgrade the Memory on a DS1512+?  Well, it only comes with 1 GB of RAM.  And they have all those packages that you can install.  It may be that if you aren’t taking advantage of any of those packages, that 1 GB of RAM may be plenty for the DS1512+.  But, I’m a big believer in “more is better”, so here we go…

Prior to my DS1512+ arriving, I did a bit of research on the type of RAM it uses.

The Synology people don’t seem to want to put the actual specs of the memory you need to upgrade out, perhaps preferring you to buy it from them..  However, they are nice enough to allow people to talk about it in the forums and to let those end users update their Wiki with user reported compatible memory modules.

Anyhow, while reading some of the forum posts, I ran across one that was extremely specific about what was required to work in a DS1512+.  According to this poster, it needed to be 2GB 1Rx8 PC3 – 10600S-09-11-B2.  That seemed oddly specific.  I had just upgraded some of my Macs, which use SODIMMs, so I decided to look through my cast-off modules.  The most recently pulled memory was a Hynix 2Rx16 (which the poster explicitly stated wouldn’t work – it has to be 1Rx8).  As luck would have it, I ran across another pair of Samsung memory modules with EXACTLY the prescribed inscription upon them.   I believe they were pulled from a 2011 Mac Mini, as I upgraded from the default 4 GB of RAM soon after purchasing it.

Anyhow, the advice on the forum is to install your memory and then run a memory test.  Seeing how this device is made to ensure the data integrity of terabytes of data, making sure you have a memory module that “plays well” sounds like a great idea.  Unfortunately, the instructions on how to perform the test wasn’t clear, so I’ll outline it here:

In the Synology Assistant tool, highlight your NAS, then hit the small Gear icon in the upper right of the window.  Check the memory test option.  That will cause a new “Memory Test” button to show up on the Management tab.  If it is grayed out (while you have your NAS highlighted), reboot the NAS via DSM, then try again (I had to do this, though I didn’t see it posted anywhere).  If it’s not grayed out, just hit it.

It will pop up a window telling you that it will reboot the NAS to do a memory test and it will be unavailable until the test is complete.  After the initial reboot, the Synology Assistant tool will let you monitor the test (in the Status column, with a percentage of completion).

I read reports of the memory test taking about 2 hours.  That may seem like a significant amount of time to have your NAS down, but I highly recommend it, just to be certain the memory you have installed doesn’t cause any issues down the line.  Remember, these NAS devices are SOFTWARE RAID, not Hardware.

As I sit here and write this up, I’m about 25% through my memory test, and it probably has been 20 minutes… So, it probably won’t quite take 2 hours.  Good luck!

Update: 

My memory test is done…  My results are:

> cat /var/log/memtester.log
1304/1303
ERROR=0

Looks like my memory is a match!

October 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

My Synology DS1512+ Ordeal

A brand new Synology DS1512+ NAS arrived today.  This is my story.  Perhaps it will  be of help to someone else.

Having a set of three Western Digital RE3 750 GB drives that were pulled out of my ReadyNAS Pro over a year ago at hand, I set off to work.  I mounted the drives in the caddys, populated them in the NAS, attached it to the network and booted it up.  I loaded the Assistant tool on my Mac to start the installation process.

It couldn’t find my new DS1512+.

A bit of research suggested a firewall issue.  Nope.. My firewall was turned off.  I decided to try running the tool under Windows 7.  It too couldn’t find my system.

A bit more research suggested booting up with no drives, so I tried it.  What do you know?  It worked!  I saw my new NAS.

I figured perhaps I needed to go through the install process, so I picked out a static IP, and started through the installation screens.  It said DSM wasn’t installed, so I downloaded the latest for my unit, and pointed it to the file.  It then complained that I didn’t have any disks installed.  So, I tried installing 1 disk.  Suddenly, it couldn’t see the NAS anymore.

I pulled the disks and rebooted the NAS.  I could see it again.  I inserted a different disk (same model, though).  BAM!  It was not on the network anymore.

I repeated this process with the last disk.  Same thing.

I had a 1 TB WD RED drive that was being used in an external USB enclosure, so I figured I’d try it.  Booted up, made sure the NAS was on the network, then inserted the RED drive.  It lives!

That got me to thinking…  Was the RE3 750 GB not compatible?  I checked Synology’s website and it was listed as compatible…

A bit of thought lead me to take one of the RE3s and place it into my USB enclosure.  It showed up on my Mac as having three partitions.  I repartitioned it a single partition and formatted it…  Then inserted it into my NAS.  Low and behold, it worked!  I powered everything down, repeated the format process on my other two RE3 drives, and was able to successfully boot up with only those three drives in the NAS.

I did not expect that having previously used the drives in another brand of NAS that it would have been any issue…

Ah well.. Hopefully everything else goes nice and smooth.

October 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

Backing up Boot Camp

About a year ago I had trouble with my SageTV server.  It was a machine built from parts and was rebooting at random, or something along those lines.  I had another parts machine that I attempted to move it to, but that failed and neither machine was working well.  Fortunately, I was very zealous about backing up, so I had all the SageTV data on my NAS.  Ultimately, I looked around the room and noted that I had a Mac Mini that wasn’t really being used, which already had Windows 7 installed in a Boot Camp partition.  I installed SageTV there, copied my backup SageTV folder, and it’s ran fine ever since.

People familiar with SageTV might wonder how I’m storing all the video files, or how it runs at all from there.  Prior to my move, I was using Silicon Dust network tuners, so there was no extra hardware to try to cram into the Mac mini, and I had also outsourced my storage…  The resultant files were stored on a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer.  So, the mini pretty much decided when to tune into a channel, then served as a traffic director getting it in from the tuner and writing it out to the NAS.  Other than that, it’s the brains behind the HD200 set-top boxes in my home.  To date, this Windows 7 installation uses up a little over 40 GB of space.

Recently, though, it hit me.  I’ve been very serious about backups for a long time.  Time Machine on all my Macs, and Acronis True Image for my Windows boxes, but I realized that I wasn’t backing up the Windows 7 partition that has become the only OS this machine ever boots to anymore.

Searching the web turned up lots of people who wanted to back up their boot camp partition from within OS X, but a smaller number that wanted to do the same from within Windows.  I don’t want to boot to an Ghost CD once a month or so.  I want “set-it-and-forget-it” reliability, just like I had before.  The advice to these people mostly said you can’t do it.  Acronis won’t work, most people said.  The Acronis support people seem to stick their fingers in their ears and hum loudly when anyone says Mac, if the messages I read were any indication.  Perhaps someone will see the potential market here and get their talented coders to add support for Mac hardware.

In the event of a drive failure, I’ll swap my drive, reload Lion from my Time Machine backup, then create a Boot Camp installation for 100 GB (the current size of my boot camp partition).  I’ll try the Acronis Boot CD, but if that fails (as sounds likely from what I’ve read), I’ll install VMware and boot to the Boot Camp installation that way, with the Acronis Boot CD to see if I can restore then.

If that fails, I’ll just reinstall Windows, reinstall Acronis, then connect to my backup image across the network and selectively restore directories/files atop a fresh SageTV installation (much like how I “moved” the install to the Mini in the first place).

The way I look at it, at least I have a good backup now… I might not be able to fix it as cleanly as I’d like, but I should be able to rebuild it in a few days at least.

Should I ever have to go down this road, I’ll try to post an update to this entry with what worked and how…

October 8, 2012 at 12:42 am 2 comments

Western Digital RED drives

Recently I had time machine fail several times on my main machine. This was not long after I had deleted my previous backup, to start fresh. I use a ReadyNAS and it occasionally seems to have difficulties with Time Machine. Since the backups for this machine were quite large, and extremely important, I decided to try something different. I would go to a dedicated external drive, what Time Machine was designed for. I initially looked at your typical external drives from all the major makers, but was surprised to see that the industry seems to have moved to 1 year warranties for external consumer drives, which is insane.

I recently read a bit about the new RED series of drives built with NAS features but for more budget minded users. My drive of choice for NAS use has been the RE4, but they are awfully expensive. The idea of an affordable drive that could be used in my NAS was attractive. However, one comparison I saw about RED drives wasn’t flattering.

One article essentially painted them (pun intended) as modified GREEN drives. Of course, those drives are a NAS nightmare, with their long timeouts which can cause an entire drive to be dropped out of an array. This article basically said that the RED drives don’t have that fatal flaw, and they don’t over aggressively try to park the heads.

From what I can tell, they use a variable spindle speed, between 5400 and 7200 RPM, so in that respect, they are better. Finally, they have a 3 year warranty.
The reviews I read stated that they were quiet and operated at a low temperature, all pluses for NAS use.

On Newegg, I found a special on the 1TB RED model for 79.99. I got a thermaltake enclosure for another 39. After shipping, it came to about 127.

Yes. I ordered a drive made for NAS use specifically for a standalone drive. Mostly, I wanted to try it out and see if the claims were true, without the big investment in a pack of drives.

It arrived today and I quickly had it installed, hooked to my Mac, and started a time machine backup. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. I could barely hear it at all. After backing up for about 2 hours, I felt the metal of the fan-less drive enclosure, and it was barely warm.

So far I am impressed. Hopefully it will live up to the warranty as well. If so, these drives could replace my RE4s in another 6 months or so.

October 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment


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