Step by step: NAS4Free installation, setup, and access

By | October 25, 2015

Simple, reduced form instructions:

  1. Download the installation media at the official website. It will link you to (at the time of writing) the SourceForge repository. Then you will have to choose the appropriate download based on the file name e.g., “Nas4freeX.xx_LiveCD.img” is for burning the install media onto a CD.
  2. Burn the installation media to CD or USB. The USB needs to be MSDOS bootable (the Rufus USB tool can do this).
  3. You will need two mediums for installation, unless you are doing an embedded install (config and settings are written onto the hard drive). One to hold the installation files, and the other to write the installation onto. The preferred method is to install NAS4Free onto a USB, to do that you’ll need 2 USBs or a CD with the install files burned onto it plus a MSDOS bootable USB.
  4. Insert the media you chose and boot your computer. Your BIOS settings will probably need to be changed to boot from USB or DVD first, unless your hard drive has nothing on it. To get into BIOS, simply press F8, F10, or whatever key it prompts at boot. Go to the BOOT tab and move either the CD or USB to the first slot so it will boot first.
  5. Follow the steps in the installer. You choose type of install and whether to configure network n4free (can be done later on). It will create the configuration files. Remove the installation media when it says it is safe to do so, then reboot.
  6. Ensure the computer is connected to the local network. You can now access the Nas4Free computer through the Web GUI by entering the IP address you chose into the browser of another device on the local network.

If your USB drive becomes unusable at any point in this process, it’s possible to fix it manually with Diskpart.

That’s it, you’re done with the initial setup. You really only need to write down the network interface controller, IP address, and any login names and passwords you set for future reference. Read on below to begin your initial setup and configuration. See what neat and useful things you can do next here.

NAS4Free

Once you’ve got your NAS4Free machine up and running you’ll need to configure some basic settings and enable your desired services. This post serves as a waypoint from which you can make sure you’re getting the best information regarding the initial setup. NAS4Free has the user in mind, so you won’t need to be a guru to get everything running. I’ll break it up into four main sections:

Creating dataset(s)

This is a step you’ll need to take before you start storing files. One of the best things about NAS oriented operating systems is their support for software RAID like ZFS. NAS4Free natively supports ZFS, which allows you to combine your hard drives to create a large pool of storage space which also benefits from faster read/write speeds and/or hard drive failure tolerance (depending on the RAID type you choose). For instance, my array can withstand 1 hard drive failing without losing any data, and I get  to use 66.6% of my total storage space. The benefits of this start to add up once you have 3 or more drives. Also, you don’t have to spend $50-100 on a hardware RAID controller. Setup is made simple, you only need to select the drives you want to use, format them, and give the array a name and a mount point. There is adequate documentation on how to get started on the NAS4Free wiki page.

Users, groups, and privileges

The default login information is:

  • ssh [login: root] [password: nas4free]
  • web gui [login: admin] [password: nas4free]

It is always recommended to change the default logins since there are bots that routinely scan open ports and attempt to login with default credentials, which may be an issue if you ever open your NAS4Free machine to the wide web. The second step regarding security and privileges is to create users and groups for others on your network. This is sometimes confusing for those not familiar with Linux like systems, so maybe come back to this after you have the other steps completed. Adding groups/users is sometimes covered in guides that aim to accomplish a specific thing as well.

Enabling services and configuring your router

This is supposed to be easy but can sometimes be tricky. Your NAS4Free is a device on the network, and even if you configure it to accept traffic on a specific port and enable certain protocols, it won’t matter unless your router is also configured to allow traffic to be routed to and from your NAS machine. Some routers and internet service providers block certain ports and traffic by default, so you’ll need to look that up on your own if you run into trouble. In another post, I give an overview of the most useful NAS4Free services. See for yourself how these tools can make managing your files a breeze.

Security basics

There are a few things you can do to greatly improve the security of your NAS4Free machine, and by extension, your network. It won’t take more than a few minutes so you might as well get it out of the way now.

  • Change default root password from “nas4free” to something that uses a strong combination of letters, numbers, and capitalization.
  • Create a user to login with instead of logging in through root. A root user is allowed to make any changes to your system, so it is considered good practice to not log in as root on a regular basis.
  • Turn off Permit root login through SSH (can be found under services –> SSH –> settings).
  • A more exhaustive list is provided on the Wiki

Once you’ve done these four things your basic setup is complete. What can you do beyond this? If you haven’t read about the various services and extensions that I linked to earlier, you should start there. Other things worth looking into are: snapshots (ZFS), advanced system settings like command scripts and cron jobs, email notifications, VirtualBox, and encryption (still considered experimental on NAS4Free, so proceed with caution).

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3 thoughts on “Step by step: NAS4Free installation, setup, and access

  1. Pingback: NAS4Free: Make use of old computer hardware | Learn | Imagine | Innovate

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