Vantec NetStar LX

october 15, 2006

So, I had built a nice CentOS box with tons of storage on it from the old Athlon XP 2000+ that used to serve up ultramookie.com. It is nice and all, but it is loud. So, I only do rsyncs to it from time to time from all four of the notebooks that run in our house. The rest of the time, the Athlon XP box is turned off.  Because of the noise, I wanted some storage that was online all the time without being loud. And if this storage had FTP access, that would also be a nice addition since I could drop files on the thing from anywhere I wanted outside of my house. I was talking to my friend Nate about this because when our families got together for dinner the other night, he showed me his MCE setup for his TV. What interested me was that he had a NAS server that was roughly the size (and looks) of a Mac mini which was serving up files for his MCE setup. The enclosure that he used was a Vantec NetStar LX, it has both USB 2.0 and 10/100 Ethernet connectors on the back. The USB 2.0 connector is a nice bonus. On the network side, it supports SMB and FTP for network access and has a HTTP administration interface. I picked one up from Fry's this afternoon and shoved a drive inside. Getting the drive into the enclosure was a semi-pain-in-the-ass because it is very tight inside the enclosure. After I got the drive in and powered up, I logged into the web interface and set things up. The interface is light and functional; and it gets most everything done well. I checked out the transfer rates of the box over a 100Mbit/s wired connection and could not get it to go past 3.5MB/s for both SMB and FTP. That is OK for me because all my machines are running 54Mbit/s wireless which tops off around the same speed. If you are running 100Mbit/s wired connections, you maybe disappointed by the transfer rate. The box has a heatsink to dissipate heat. But, get this, the heat sink is on the bottom of the box, doesn't heat rise? There is also a thermal controlled fan onboard that kicks in automatically if things get a bit hot. I can set the fan to run low/high/auto. I am leaving it at automatic. The noise from the fan is not bad, it is about as loud as my Compaq notebook's fan when it kicks in. This is actually my second try at getting NAS storage on my network. The first try was with the Linksys NSLU2. The NSLU2 makes for a good small Linux box, but as a NAS server, it really sucked. The throughput for that thing was sub-1.5MB/s, which is unacceptable. The other thing with the NSLU2 was that it was only a head for storage. You attach USB storage to the NSLU2 to serve up. The drawback of this is that the NSLU2 cannot control the drive directly and spin it down. This makes for a lot of wear and tear on drives -- plus it leaves drives spinning which is a cause of noise. I will see how well it goes with the Vantec. So far, out of the box, I am pretty happy with it. It looks pretty and it works well. It can serve up files fast enough to saturate my wireless connection, so that fits right into the "good enough" category. As for getting storage to my other computers, the rest of this posting are just notes for myself. Since the Vantec serves up SMB, I found ways to get these things mounted automatically on my Powerbook and Linux boxes. Mac:

Linux: