We have recently been trying out FreeNAS as a way to add some storage to our internal network. First impressions are positive. We are able to utilise an old spare low power PC to run the software from a compact flash card. We currently use four 1TB drives in two separate hardware RAID 0 arrays. This gives us two 2TB volumes which we can access over the network on either Windows (SMB/CIFS) or Mac (AFP).
Setup was simple, by booting a liveCD and choosing the 64MB compact flash card to install to. Once setup, the server can be run headless (without a monitor) and configured via the handy web interface. It is possible to setup hard disks, file sharing protocols, and even a transmission torrent server and iTunes music server, all directly from the web interface. The web interface also shows the status of CPU and memory usage and can also provide graphs for disk access and network throughput.
It takes some minor setup to access the drives in Windows by mapping the network drives, however no setup is required on the Mac end. The server shows up in the finder sidebar and is just a click away from the network volumes. An overview from the FreeNAS website is included below:
FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC, iSCSI protocols, S.M.A.R.T., local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface.
FreeNAS takes less than 32MB for version’s up to 0.686.x and 32+ MB from version 0.69
Can be installed on Compact Flash, USB key, USB key or just run as LiveCD saving the configuration file on floppy or USB key .
The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall.
I would be interested to run FreeNAS on a small form factor Atom based PC, maybe using external storage drives. The EEE Box would make an interesting FreeNAS server.