The N40L NAS with the Icy Dock DuoSwap

A recent tech buy was an HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer, which serves as a NAS, a Sick Beard/SABnzbd+/Deluge server, and as a backup server.

I’ve added an IcyDock Duo Swap to the 5.25″ bay. I use its 3.5″ bay for rotating HDD backups, and its 2.5″ bay for the system SSD. Having the OS drive in a hotswap bay is pointless, but it kept the case neat.

There is a fifth SATA port on the motherboard, but to use a sixth drive I was required to use a SATA to eSATA cable and poke it out to the eSATA port at the back of the case. I also found the case fan a bit noisier than I liked, so I replaced it. Concerned by the possibility of buying an incompatible PWM model as warned by this article, I used a non-PWM fan and set the RPM manually.

In order to make the drives hot-swappable I was required to install a modified bios and alter some advanced configuration settings.

Ubuntu-server 12.10 is installed, along with Sick Beard, SABnzbd+, and Deluge. At some point it may also host an XBMC database, so to handle these services better I’ve upgraded the box to 8GB RAM.

Both AFP and CIFS are used to allow my MacBook and HTPC to connect to it with ease. I briefly played with NFS but couldn’t get the bindings and permissions to work correctly. I like that the client machines use their own native mechanisms, anyway.

I’ve also made it a printer server by installing CUPS, and I made it work for iPads by installing Avahi, roughly following this method.

I played around a bit with software RAID via mdadm (the advertised integrated RAID is only FakeRAID), and it works well, but ended up just going straight with the various HDDs I had sitting around. I don’t need redundancy, I just wanted backups of my documents and photos.

Local backups are made using rsync and rotating external HDDs in the DuoSwap. Automated external backups are performed using the excellent little tool encrb to upload encrypted data to a private server.

That’s about it.

15 thoughts on “The N40L NAS with the Icy Dock DuoSwap

  1. These modifications look very sensible, thanks! Which non-PWM fan did you get? It looks like a Noctua; is it the NF-S12B FLX?

    Relatedly, I’m not sure you’ve already discovered this (I hope you don’t have to), but if you’re running TimeMachine backups over AFP, they have a tendency to get corrupted. I’ve solved this by exporting an iSCSI volume (this is fairly easy if you run FreeNAS, but should be possible on Linux too). OS X then treats it as a local disk. That ends up being both faster and more reliable (-:

  2. Yep, the NF-S12B. You’re still probably better off with a PWM fan, just check the minimum speed first, but the Noctua seems to be doing the job OK at the lowest RPM.

    Thanks for the Time Machine heads-up! I looked into using it, but I store all non-system files directly on the NAS, and I back that up separately. I don’t care about backing up system files, but if I ever go that route I’ll use your method.

  3. Hah, I actually got that fan before you answered (thanks, amazon prime), so I’d like to note that to connect the non-PWM (3-pin) fan to the motherboard (which you have to do, otherwise it fails to boot), you have to cut off the far header flange (as seen from the case front). Took me a bit to decipher from the pinout and your gaffer picture, but it’s the far flange.

    Also, yay quieter storage servers. I’m very happy with this mod now (-:

    1. Yes, I forgot to mention that! I sliced it off with a knife. I’ve done this so much for other things that I didn’t think of it.

    1. The lowest, which I think is 600rpm. But I live in a fairly cool environment and the machine doesn’t do anything taxing. I monitored the temperature for a while and was satisfied with that.

  4. Oh, I understand. These days I’m modding my n54l and now is the time to choose a new fan for my “little” nas. Seems your is the ULN version, isn’t it?

    1. I didn’t get the chance to take it out and have a look, but I just Googled the FLX and ULN and only the FLX runs at 600, 900, or 1200rpm so the FLX must be the one I have (running at 600).

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