Thanks to a tip from one of my commenters, I’ve discovered that FreeNAS 7 (formally “legacy” FreeNAS) lives on as NAS4Free.  This is pretty exciting news, as I did indeed love FreeNAS and it’s super easy Web GUI.  While I’m happy to see that the project has been carried forward with an updated OS (FreeBSD 9), I’m not going to be doing any switching anytime soon.  I’m pretty committed to Ubuntu Server now, and quite frankly the amount of time required to re-setup all of my software would be too much (not to mention lack of Plex support too!).

I would love to see if someone could port the web admin UI to Ubuntu or Debian for general usage.  Anyone out there that’s handy with porting, please consider this my official request.

Over and out.

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Here we go folks.  Complete, yet half-baked documentation on how to setup your very own home NAS using free Linux software.  I know this has been written about before, and in fact I have pulled from many fine sources (see my acknowledgement below).  This is documented here mainly so I don’t forget how I did this.  It’s not really for you – sorry internet.  Let’s get started:
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This is basically part two of my previous post about troubles in NAS-land.  That experience got me thinking about switching up my NAS solution.  Here’s why:

  1. FreeNAS v0.7.x is based on FreeBSD which is a fairly foreign OS to me.  Everything, I mean everything, that I do in that OS is a complete and total learning experience.  While it’s easy to setup initially, debugging is a chore.  I’m much more comfortable in either a Windows or Linux environment.
  2. FreeNAS v0.7.x has basically been EOL’d and is now in “legacy” support.  That leaves me wondering about security and stability issues when upgrading to new hardware (see my previous post).
  3. FreeNAS v0.7.x transfer speeds have been shown to be a bit slower than (reference needed) other solutions for SAMBA or NFS.
  4. FreeNAS v0.7.x uses UFS (Unix File System).  Yeah… I don’t know either.  Mounting EXT4 or NTFS is not an option, but would be extremely handy when swapping data around.
  5. FreeNAS v0.7.x has questionable USB drivers which seemed to hang on my system when doing large RSYNC or file copy sessions.  Bad.  Also… slooow.
  6. FreeNAS v0.7.x has PHP4 and Lighttp instead of PHP5 and Apache2.  There were a bunch of cool web applications that I wanted to install on FreeNAS but didn’t because I didn’t want to hassle with installing PHP5 and Apache and screwing up the Web UI.  It looks messy and difficult.

Given that I’m comfortable with Linux (Ubuntu specifically), I was eager to see if I could make the switch to something more Linux’y, and still have the nice features and flexibility of FreeNAS.  Here was what I wanted:

  1. I want to run the OS from a USB flash drive.  Well ideally it would be nice to run it from an SSD, but I’m not made of money.
  2. I want a comparable Web UI to FreeNAS (huge selling point).  Needs to have the ability to manage shares, services, show me uptime, transfer rate, etc.
  3. RAID 1 mirror capability is a must.  I have data that I want protected from a drive failure.  Redundancy is key to my strategy.
  4. Services like SMB/CIFS, SSH, NFS, FTP, etc. are important to access the data.
  5. File system flexibility.  I’d like the capability to attach new storage in different formats.  Linux gives me that flexibility.  EXT4 gives me the performance and the protection from issues like power-outages that killed my previous NAS solution dead.
  6. Remote Bittorrent.  Gotta have it.
  7. Subsonic (hell yes)
  8. Exandability.  I want to install my own web apps, servers like Plex Server, Tonido, OwnCloud, and a host others that would have just been a pain in FreeNAS.
  9. Good hardware support and regular security updates.
  10. Good support community.

Here was my final verdict:

  1. Yes, you can run Ubuntu Server from a USB flash drive.  Some folks have pointed out that USB flash drives may run the risk of wear-out and warn to not install an OS on a USB flash drive.  You can minimize the amount of writes that are targeted at the flash device by removing the swap partition (make sure you have enough system memory for this).  Others say that you should probably never run into a problem with a good quality USB device.
  2. I started to look for alternative Web UI’s for server administration and I stumbled across a few.  I was most impressed by Ajenti (, however it’s still in an very early stage of development.  I’ll probably go with this, but Webmin appears to be pretty widely used UI and I may fall back on this to get more functionality.
  3. Yup, I’ve done a lot with RAID Mirroring on Ubuntu in the past.  I’ll just dig up this old post (raiding the archives) and implement a mirror as I did before with MDADM.  Easy.
  4. Check.  SMB/CIFS, SSH, NFS, FTP are all a snap to install on ubuntu.  Just pull from the repositories, configure and off we go.  Ajenti has some capability to manage these services from the Web UI as well.
  5. Yes again.  Flexibility abounds.  I will choose EXT4 thank you very much.
  6. Same as FreeNAS, I’ll pull in the latest Transmission Deamon.
  7. Yup – and easier to install, upgrade and manage on Ubuntu.  It’s a deb package so I won’t have to much other than configure it once it’s installed.
  8. Resounding yes.  I will have full flexibility to install the latest PHP, Apache, MySQL, etc… this means I can go crazy installing other fun projects on the NAS in the future.
  9. Yes and yes.
  10. Yes – while FreeNAS has a great community, Ubuntu has a bigger user base and a bigger support community.

So that’s it.  I’ve made up my mind.   Ubuntu Server here we come.   It’s going to be quite a project to get this initially setup, but I think it will be an enriching and useful project.  It’ll open my home server up to new capabilities and hopefully enhanced performance.   FreeNAS is great, but it’s sort of like riding a bike with the training wheels on.  It’s time to ride on two wheels now.

P.S. I should also mention that during my research, I ran across OpenMediaVault (   The original FreeNAS project forked into two projects.  The first fork was FreeNAS 8.0 based on FreeBSD8, which is aimed at higher-end server equipment.   I avoided this version because it is still in it’s infancy, requires a kind of ridiculous amount of power and it’s still based on FreeBSD.  I recently discovered that the second fork is actually a Debian Linux based fork aimed more at the home NAS market.   Now they have me second guessing things.  Since it’s based on debian, perhaps this would be the easier route… naw.   

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If you’ve followed my blog in the past, you probably have noticed that I have been a big fan and user of FreeNAS for my home NAS needs.  FreeNAS is a great project and quite excellent for those who want a basic, easy to use, polished NAS OS for free.  I can’t speak enough to how good FreeNAS is.  However, recently, I’ve had some challenges that caused me to re-think my home NAS strategy.

I should probably follow the old saying that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  In this case, I totally disregarded that wise advice and “fixed” with wild abandon.  With my current NAS operating relatively glitch free for over a year on FreeNAS, of course it was time for some upgrading and tinkering.

It started out as an idea for offsite backup, which involved installing duplicity (which turned out to not be that hard), which presented some challenges.  More on that later.  I was also doing some large file transfer across my home network, which is gigabit but was struggling to achieve a decent transfer rate.  I decided after some research that my hardware was holding me back, it was probably my 2-3 year old chipset bottlenecking transfer speeds.  Fortunately, I had just decommissioned another system in my home with considerably greater horsepower.  That’d be great to replace this aging slow NAS system.  So backed up my data on the NAS to some old HD’s laying around the house (slowly… across the network), and switched to the new hardware.  Upgraded FreeNAS in the process to the latest stable v0.7.2.  Restored my config.  Good so far.

Then, my FreeNAS box started rebooting randomly.  Worse, it rebooted and hung while we were away in Hawaii for two weeks.  Nothing I hate worse than having no access to my tunes, let alone other data, and having a broken system that I can’t do anything about, a thousand miles away.  At first I thought I was getting power-outages.  But I discovered later that it was nothing to do with our power at the house.   After a look through syslogs, and some internet searching I found my problem.  Corruption.

I was able to run fsck (file system check) on the RAID array and get the darn think back serviceable again… but the reboots continued.   What… the… hell.  I started to go through my mental checklist of what could be going wrong with the system.  Why the crazy random reboots?  And absolutely no warnings in the log files, no errors, no kernel panic, nothing.  Had to be something with the motherboard, cpu, memory or power-supply or something.  After a while I decided to replace the motherboard first… which forced me to replace the memory.  Two more variables removed.  Still, reboots.  Finally I replaced the power-supply.  Bingo – problem solved.   Why did I even bother to do an upgrade in the first place?!

Well, at least we are stable for now.  Stay tuned for part two… switching to Ubuntu Server from FreeNAS.

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You may remember that I had posted about setting up a remote file server (via the web interface), a little while ago. Well I just stumbled across this post which talks about using secure FTP via the ssh tunnel. It’s dead simple to setup and is actually quite an elegant solution.  It does require FTP software that supports SFTP, so it’s not quite as user friendly or configurable, but it’s great for power-users.  I think I audibly said, “duh!” when I stumbled upon this.  Also, it’s nice having the SSH capability exposed externally.  Note that the tutorial is for FreeNAS 8, but is totally applicable to FreeNAS 7 (if you’re like me an are sticking to the legacy server software).

And regarding security, I would definitely use a different port than the standard SSH port, at least externally. Otherwise you’ll get clobbered with traffic from hackers attempting to connect to your server for not so nice reasons.  You may want to consider using a keyfile as well – which makes it less convenient, but much more secure.

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Another geeky freenas related post today.  All those not interested in reading through techy garbage, please feel free to leave early.  For those of you here to learn about said techy garbage, please open your text books to page 204 and follow along.

For some time now, I have been aware of the rather handy feature that Windows Home Server boasts with a web based file manager (I believe they call it Remote Web Access or some such generic name).  Being a stalwart FreeNAS guy, I was impressed, but didn’t let my jealousy shine through.  How cool is it that you can log into your NAS from outside the network and upload/download any file that is there via a spiffy web interface?  Very cool.  Want.

Sure, you can setup an FTP server, but I really don’t like exposing an FTP to the outside world.  Too many security issues with FTP.  Yes,  I know you can setup an SSH tunnel and do FTP, but that’s kinda boring and not everyone has the patience to setup their own SSH client, etc. Plus I wanted an easy way to allow my friends and/or family to log into the server to grab things like photos or videos or even upload their own files.  I’m certainly not going to get 99% of these folks to setup a secure FTP session via SSH.

Recently, I came across this LifeHacker article about setting up FreeNAS to run SickBeard and SABnzbd to do a sort of Internet PVR.  After reading this, and seeing the techniques they used to get this up and running I was suddenly inspired to work on the above project.  I knew there had to be a way to shoehorn something in.  So I began to look at my options.  I finally stumbled upon a slick PHP/Ajax based Web File Manager front end with decent security that would work for me and decided to give it a shot.  (Ajaxplorer)

If you want to be the master of your domain, and show your Windows Home Server friends up, then this setup is for you.  Enough background, let’s get started.

Get the Necessary Pieces:

  • Step 1: Go to the Ajaxplorer website and download the latest zip (  As of the publication of this post, I downloaded Ajaxplorer v3.2.4 and I should also mention that I am using FreeNAS 0.7 in my configuration.  (sorry FreeNAS 8 folks, but I’m guessing these steps will work equally well on your server?)
  • Step 2: No step two?  Alright, on with it!

Configure FreeNAS:

  • Step 1: Open the admin web interface and navigate to the “Services” tab.
  • Step 2: Open “Webserver”
  • Step 3: Check the box to “Enable” your LightHTTPd webserver in the upper right hand corner (this doesn’t actually instantly enable anything, just allows you to start configuring)
  • Step 4: Choose HTTP from the protocol drop down (at least initially – we’ll talk about securing this before we poke a hole in your router and expose the NAS to the internet)
  • Step 5:  Select a port number (i.e. 1234).  (don’t select port 80, try not to conflict with other ports on the server and of course something between 0-64999)
  • Step 6: Choose webserver base directory (or document root).  I put mine on my mounted drives, rather than installing directly on the flash drive (OS drive).  For example:  mntsharenamewww (of course you will need to go and create this directory on your drive first)
  • Step 7: Leave Authentication and Directory Listing un-checked.
  • Step 8: Click the “Save and Restart” button.  You should get message stating: “The changes have been applied successfully” after a few tense seconds.

Install Ajaxplorer

  • Step 1: Unpack the into a directory off of your webserver base.  For example “. wwwajxp”.  Confirm that all of the directories and files were created properly and that permissions were set properly (see this page for more details: ).
  • Step 2: Point your browser to your FreeNAS IP and new webserver port (i.e. to get started.   A diagnostic tool will be ran once to check that your configuration is ok.  On FreeNAS you’ll get some warnings letting you know that you won’t have image previews due to the lack of PHP5, etc.  Despite these warnings you should have a mostly functional web file manager installed.
  • Step 3: Click continue and you should see a warning telling you that the user « admin » has been created with the password « admin » : log in with this id/password, and go the the « Settings » panel to change the admin password.
  • Step 4: Configure your users and repositories.  ( )

Additional Security Concerns

I’m not much of a security expert, however it was absolutely essential to me that this be a decently secure solution.   I really don’t want people hacking around in my NAS from the outside.

In this configuration there are at least 3 caveats with regards to security:

  1. When using this interface over the internet, the traffic is unencrypted (as is your login and password).  You’ll want to setup a secure connection to your FreeNAS box and the easiest way to do this is to configure HTTPS on your box.  ( ).  You’ll be self-signing your certificate, which means that your credentials will not be recognized by any reputable certificate authority – and that your browser will likely throw up all kinds of alarm bells when accessing your site.  But since you know you’re trustworthy, you can just ignore those warnings.  Do this step first such that you can generate the credentials, and the configuration file for your webserver – in the next step we’re going to use the newly created configuration as a base for a new webserver.  Just read on…
  2. FreeNAS’s LightHTPPd does not support .htaccess files (which are for Apache), which means that you’ll need to go and lock down any sensitive directories (i.e. .serverconf, etc. ) manually.  Although it seems it may not be necessary after poking around a bit more, better safe than sorry.  More information can be found here:  I found that there are two configuration files under FreeNAS.  One for the WebUI and one for the web server that you just enabled.  You’ll want to edit the configuration file found here: varetcwebsrv.conf.  Add something like this to the end of the file:

    $HTTP[“url”] =~ “^/ajxp/server/conf” {
    url.access-deny = (“”)

    Now, to my surprise, if you disable and re-enable the webserver via the web UI or reboot the system you’ll completely blow away any changes you made to the config file ( This is apparently how FreeNAS is designed. So, here’s how I got around things. I made a copy of the websrv.conf file named mywebsrv.conf and instead of launching the default web server, launched my own via a config script. Do this by adding the following to System > Advanced > Command Scripts:

    /usr/local/sbin/lighttpd -D -f /var/etc/mywebsrv.conf -m /usr/local/lib/lighttpd

    Make this a post-init script meaning it runs after the system boots and initializes.  Ensure to add all of the directories that you would like to deny access to into the configuration file.  After you’re done with this step, make sure you disable the other default webserver via the web gui before you reboot the system. This should do the trick and forbid access to your sensitive directories.

  3. Ajaxplorer comes with a standard Admin account creatively named ‘admin’ so you’ll probably want to change that to avoid dictionary attacks.  I created a new account with admin privileges and a strong password and then deleted the admin account.

If you’re reading this and can think of more, please do let me know so that I can plug those holes too.

Poke a Hole in your Router

Because everyone has a different type of router at home, I won’t even attempt to begin to tell you how to do this.  However, you’ll want to make sure that you port-forward whatever port you defined in your LightHTTPd configuration above.  You can use a different outside port if you desire, but I like to keep it simple and use the same port number.

Now you can access your stuff anywhere you have an Internet connection.  If you have a Dynamic DNS service to help you remember your IP, even better!

Final Thoughts

While I’m pretty happy with the results, I’m sure there are improvements that can be made to the installation etc.  Others have used Ajaxplorer in place of the Quixplorer that is currently running on FreeNAS (which can be used on the internal network).  Ajaxplorer can be a bit sluggish, and it doesn’t integrate perfectly with FreeNAS, but it gets the job done.  If you have any suggestions, tweaks or improvements let me know and I’ll include them here!  I hope this helps anyone that has been thinking of doing this.  It’s certainly been a learning experience for me.

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As previously mentioned, I am a big proponent of FreeNAS (a free network attached storage operating system). In the past I have talked about how to setup SubSonic (an awesome streaming audio/video server) on FreeNAS natively.

I am currently running the v0.7 (legacy) variant of FreeNAS (in my opinion v0.8 is still a bit young) which I recently “turned-on” the bittorrent capability.  This is a good thing, because, I can simply fire-up a torrent on the machine and let it download right onto my server (which is up 24 hours a day), instead of my desktop machine which may or may not be on all the time – and which may get updated with a new OS from time to time, blowing away all my seeding torrents.

While setting up bittorrent on FreeNAS is on the surface, really easy, I found some quirks that needed to be ironed out.  I decided to capture the information in one place in the hopes it can help someone else out there.  Here are the resources that I used to get this going:

1. Setting up the Transmission client on FreeNAS v0.7. A great tutorial can be found at LifeHacker, and even has a nifty video to help you set it up. (  Don’t forget to setup the DNS (this is critical for bittorrent to work at all).  Update (11/2011):  I found that permissions can be quirky with the standard setup – meaning if you’re trying to delete files via SMB/CIFS, you might get denied.  To avoid this issue, set the user mask to ‘0000’ in the Transmission setup page via the WebUI which will write your downloads as read/write/execute for all groups. 

2. Adding an IP block-list to Transmission under FreeNAS. Because I’m paranoid, I definitely want a block-list running on Transmission.  For some reason, this functionality is turned off by default in FreeNAS.  This helpful site, gives you the easiest method by which to turn it on and keep it updated.  ( (11/2011):  You’ll want to update your blocklist URL to something more current as the bluetack URL does not seem to work anymore. (

3. Using a remote GUI to control Transmission, monitor/start torrents. While some folks may find it perfectly acceptable to use the WebUI and a watch directory, as described in the LifeHacker article, I find that process kind of clunky.  I prefer to send the torrent files to a remote transmission client directly from my browser.  (for example, when I click on a torrent link, the browser downloads the torrent and launches the remote Transmission client automatically – no need to open up remote directories and pass files around).  Because I’m using Ubuntu on my home computer, I simply installed Transmission Remote GUI.  When clicking a torrent, simply point your browser at “/usr/bin/transgui” to start that software up.

That’s it folks. Have fun torrenting on your FreeNAS server!

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I can’t recall if I’ve talked about FreeNAS before on this blog, but if I haven’t that may be a topic for another time.  Besides, lots of other folks have written about it in the past.  It’s great network storage for backing up all of our documents, photos, videos and music in one place with built in RAID backup.  It’s amazing.  And now with Subsonic, we have the option of installing software that can stream music (and now video) to any web browser or even smart phone on the internet.  Very cool.

Once again, I’m writing a really, really nerdy post as a public service to those out there who want to do the same and haven’t gotten enough guidance elsewhere on the internet.  Also this will serve as a persistent memory for my inevitable re-install later.  I’m sure most of my regular readers will want to stop reading at this point.

Before starting, it’s really important that you have enough space on your FreeNAS OS partition to hold Subsonic.  In the Subsonic forum it’s suggested that you carve out at least 150MB for all of the files.  I’d suggest allocating at least twice that if possible.  I’ve found that after a fair amount of use, the log file will start to grow pretty large, you may want to add codecs for transcoding, etc.  Personally this was the most painful part of the process since I had an “embedded” installation of FreeNAS on a USB flash drive which was fairly small.  During this process I used the capability within FreeNAS to backup the configuration before I re-installed.  Make sure when you re-install (if you need to) that do not choose the “embedded” option.  I installed from the CD-ROM image and chose the “full” install option onto a Hard Drive w/Data Partition (even though I will not actually use a hard drive or data partition).

The information and steps below are lovingly borrowed from the following two links, however I have mashed them up together, and added steps/made some changes that I found helpful during my experience installing the software.

  • Subsonic Forum: Sindre provided some helpful instructions to get your started on the install with FreeNAS.
  • Ozziks Blog: Huge thanks to this blog for helping with the finer points of the installation process.

Step 1: Prepare your server for the installation.

Before getting started, enable SSH access to your FreeNAS server.  You’ll find this under the web UI:  “Services >SSH”.  Set this to enable, and allow root.  You can log into your FreeNAS server by using any SSH terminal client.  Under Ubuntu (with SSH client installed) type “ssh x.x.x.x@root” (where the x.x.x.x is the IP address of your FreeNAS server).   If you have Windows use Putty.  Just remember that you must login as “root”, and not “admin”.

Setup FreeNAS’s Gateway IP.  This was something that I got hung up on for hours while trying to run the pkg_add command later in the process.  Well, maybe not hours, but it was an ah-ha moment when I finally stumbled upon the answer.  Under the FreeNAS web interface go to Network > LAN Management > Gateway = (set this to your router’s IP address, mine happens to be

Step 2: Download Java JRE (or JDK) package from:

You should choose the JRE package according to your CPU architecture and FreeBSD version (if you have FreeNAS 0.7.x then you will want to download the FreeBSD 7 package, and of course based on your release, either AMD(64-bit) and i386(32-bit)).  I chose diablo-jre-freebsd7.i386., having FreeNas 0.7.2 and i386.  I then put this file onto my FreeNAS share drive so that you can access it directly from the shell (i.e. /mnt/share-name/path-to/file-name) later when you want to add the package.

Step 3: Install dependent packages (included the transcoders here as well, but may not be desired in your config):

$ pkg_add -v -r xtrans
$ pkg_add -v -r xproto
$ pkg_add -v -r xextproto
$ pkg_add -v -r javavmwrapper
$ pkg_add -v -r lame
$ pkg_add -v -r flac
$ pkg_add -v -r ffmpeg

UPDATE 1/10/2012:  If you run into issues with the latest versions of FreeNAS failing the pkg_add command like I did recently, the follow these instructions prior to the pkg_add commands.

Before installing the packages, if you are using FreeNAS 7.2 (based on FreeBSD 7.3), you’ll need to enter the following command:


(substitute amd64 for i386 if 64-bit).

(May also work for other versions – if the version of FreeBSD is no longer considered the current release, the main mirror will no longer contain the package files, therefore the above is necessary to tell pkg_add where to find the .tbz files. You may set it permanently in ~/.cshrc if you wish it to remain sticky.)

If you have issues installing the lame codec you may also try the following.  I can’t recall if I ran into this issue or not.

$ pkg_add -r -v

Step 4: Install the JRE (the .tbz file is the one you downloaded in step 2)

$ pkg_add -v /mnt/share-drive/diablo-jre-freebsd7.i386.

Of course your version of the file and location may be different, so don’t copy/paste this portion.

Step 5: Download Subsonic standalone version and install it in /var/subsonic/standalone on your FreeNAS, as described here.  Just like with the Java package, I put the Subsonic Tarball on the share drive somewhere (i.e. In SSH:

$ mkdir /var/subsonic
$ mkdir /var/subsonic/standalone
$ cd /var/subsonic/standalone
$ tar xvzf /mnt/share-name/path-to/subsonic-x.x-standalone.tar.gz

Some folks suggest changing the permissions of all of the files at this point.  Technically it will probably work just fine untouched.  But if you want:

$ chmod 777 *.*

Step 6: Modify the file.


If you are editing under Windows, do yourself a favor and save the file in ASCII format so as not to cause issues.  The fist time around I made changes in my Windows text editor and it introduced all kinds of invisible line breaks and null characters which caused the script to fail under BSD.   Just… don’t.

I also found an issue with the subsonic.h file, as shipped, under my FreeNAS implementation and am not quite sure why it doesn’t work.  It may work out of the box for you, but for some reason it was broken for me.  If you run into the same issue, you can make the following changes.


cd $(dirname $0)
if [ -L $0 ] && ([ -e /bin/readlink ] || [ -e /usr/bin/readlink ]); then
cd $(dirname $(readlink $0))


cd /var/subsonic/standalone
#if [ -L $0 ] && ([ -e /bin/readlink ] || [ -e /usr/bin/readlink ]); then
#cd $(dirname $(readlink $0))

Step 7: Copy codecs into the Subsonic transcode directory:

mkdir /var/subsonic/transcode
cp /usr/local/bin/lame /var/subsonic/transcode/
cp /usr/local/bin/flac /var/subsonic/transcode/
cp /usr/local/bin/ffmpeg /var/subsonic/transcode/

There is one more step to get codecs to function properly that we’ll cover later.  If you installed some other codecs in step 3, then you’ll want to copy those to the transcode directory as well.

Step 7: In the FreeNAS web interface, go to System > Advanced > Command script and add the following “PostInit” script:


Step 8: Reboot FreeNAS, and go to http://<your-freenas-server>:4040 to start using Subsonic.

Step 9: Configure your transcoder settings.  In the Subsonic web interface go to “Settings > Transcoding”.

In this example, I’ve set up FLAC to transcode to WAV, then to MP3.   On the line reads “flac > mp3” modify the following:

Step 1 = flac -c -s -d %s
Step 2 = lame -b 320 – –

NOTE: This hard-codes the bitrate to 320kbps, which is presumptuous.  But hey, that’s what FLAC is all about right?  High quality.

My FreeNAS server is an under-powered system (mostly because it never needed to be powerful), so transcoding FLAC to MP3 basically consumes 100% of the processor bandwidth.  Listening to FLAC’s is something I will probably do sparingly.  Your mileage may vary.

Summary: It looks hard, but I’ve made all the mistakes for you, so this guide should save you some serious time.  If you run into any issues, Google is always your friend.

And in closing, if you haven’t yet donated to the project, I urge you to do so.  Sindre (the developer of Subsonic) obviously put a lot of hard work into this and it is just flat-out great software.  He deserves a little scratch for bringing this to the masses for free.  So do your part and support the community.  It’s an investment in your personal enjoyment of music and an investment in the future development of this software.

BONUS:  How to UPDATE/UPGRADE your Subsonic to the latest version on FreeNAS

From time to time, Subsonic has bug fixes and/or feature additions that may be compelling enough to make you want to upgrade your installation.  I could not find a single shred of information on the internet about how to update the “standalone” version of Subsonic on FreeNAS without completely re-installing.  I did some experimenting and came up with the below solution.  This is not endorsed and certainly should be done at your own risk.  Back-up your Subsonic installation before you try this.

Step 1: Shutdown Subsonic.  In the FreeNAS web interface go to System > Advanced > Command script and then delete following “PostInit” script:


Reboot the system.  Subsonic will not automatically run on restart and it will be safe to make changes.

Step 2: Back up your Subsonic installation by copying all files under /var/subsonic to another safe location.  If you for some reason run into an issue during the install, you should be able to simply copy all of these files back and be back in business.

Step 3: Download the latest standalone package here.  Put the new tarball on my FreeNAS share drive so that you can access it via the terminal (i.e. under the /mnt/share-name/path-to/ directory)

Step 4: Unpack subsonic-x.x-standalone.tar.gz to “var/subsonic/standalone”.  Using SSH:

$ cd /var/subsonic/standalone
$ tar xvzf /mnt/share-drive/path-to/subsonic-x.x-standalone.tar.gz

This will unpack the new files right over the top of the old files.  Edit permissions on the new files if desired.

Step 5: Edit the file as necessary.  (see step 6 above)

Step 6: In the FreeNAS web interface, go to System > Advanced > Command script and add the following “PostInit” script:

sh /var/subsonic/standalone/

Step 7: Reboot FreeNAS, and go to http://<your-freenas-server>:4040, login and confirm your settings.

Step 8: Enjoy.

I would love to hear your successes or failures to make this tutorial just a bit more useful.  Feedback is always welcome.

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FreeNAS Small

This is a nerdy tech post. You have been warned.

Those of you who read this blog (all two of you) may remember a previous post where I talked about setting up a RAID array under Ubuntu. My intended purpose was to store all of my pictures, movies and music on a independent set of disks as a backup. In case my main OS HD failed, I’d have a mirrored backup on standby. And it paid off! Just months after I implemented this, my main OS HD failed and I lost everything on that drive. Luckily, I had my RAID backup which had everything conveniently backed up. I simply bought a new hard drive, re-installed the OS and restored the data from my RAID array. Needless to say, I’m sold on RAID backups. This solved my personal backup needs, but it became evident that my wife also needed a solution when her iPod hard drive got wiped and her music collection disappeared (thought we found a backup on her laptop HD). Purchasing a NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution was expensive and pretty much out of my league. Until now…

After doing some internet searches, I discovered FreeNAS. I guess I should have known that there would already be a perfect solution in the open source community. But this software is truly phenomenal. It’s polished, simple, and perfect for what I need. Folks, this thing is open source software based on FreeBSD (an open source OS), and it all fits on a 32MB USB Flash Drive.

Lets back up for a moment, what is FreeNAS exactly? It basically provides you with all the software you need to setup a fully featured network attached storage system. All you really need to do is supply the hardware. This means you can take that old Pentium III system sitting in your closet, and turn it into a fast, powerful home server. It can serve up movies, music and pictures to your laptop, desktop, WMA, XBOX, or Media PC. No need for a keyboard, mouse or monitor. All you need is a network cable and power to the system and this thing can sit anywhere in your house.

The list of features on this is mind boggling. RAID0/1/5, JBOD, SMB/CIFS, FTP, uPNP, RSYNC, and on and on… The web user interface (featured as my graphic above) is incredibly slick and easy to use. I literally had this thing setup and running in under 5 minutes. Seriously. It installs just that fast. It’s the perfect use for my tiny Intel D201GLY board, which has a built-in CPU and runs completely silent (no fans).

This experiment wasn’t without it’s issues. When I started, I was using a Promise 4-Port SATA card, which after extensive testing I discovered was the source of my problems. Using this card exhibited some really unstable behavior, especially under heavy network loads. I finally decided that I didn’t really need four ports for my little home project and removed the card. And I’m happy to say that it works flawlessly with the two onboard SATA ports.

All I need to do now is find a case for this thing and put it up on the bookshelf. I have to say that I’m super happy with this project and I hope to put it to full-time use soon.

Until next time…

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