Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Using the Qube as a NAS device 1

Some time ago I described my adventures in installing Debian (Lenny at that time) on an old Qube 2. It was cool to install it, but I didn't find a proper use for it. So it has been gathering dust for a while, until I decided to use it as a backup server for my desktop and wyse. So, this weekend I decided to fire up my favorite mondo script and create a backup for the wyse (before dist-upgrading it to squeeze).

Unfortunately this didn't work very well. The moment the network card in the Qube gets some load it starts to hang. After some time in the backup process, I couldn't ping the Qube any more. The serial console didn't respond either, so I think it died. Putting a newer network card in the box's free PCI slot did not solve my issues either. It seems that Debian (or maybe even Linux) is just not stable enough to cope with a lot of network traffic / load. So in short, Debian failed miserably turning the Qube in a decent (albeit slow) NAS.

After googling for a while, I found another valuable alternative to run on the Qube. Enter NetBSD.
Now, I've been using Linux for quite some time now and I know how to move around on the command line, but - I thought - NetBSD is a whole different league. Fortunately, NetBSD provides a very simple procedure to install the Qube using a so called Restore CD. The idea is simple:

  • find an old i386 machine that can boot from a CD-ROM;
  • connect the Qube with a cross-cable to the i386 machine;
  • boot the i386 machine with the Restore CD;
  • netboot the Qube
You will see that the Qube will netboot from the i386, which will allow you to start the install procedure. Just follow the instructions step by step and in the end, you will have a working Qube 2 running NetBSD.

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