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Old 01-20-2015, 01:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Laptop as a basic file server?

Hello friends. I'm on the hunt for a solution utilizing hardware I already have to pair with OpenMediaVault, a Linux based NAS operating system. Specifically this will be for my in-laws. I want it to be as low powered as possible. I thought I had a few options, but I feel like I'm getting a little arm-twisted into one option... The tower I had available draws more power than I like, so it operating as a 24/7 rig that'll be used for minutes a day when my in-laws computers back up is a little 'blah' to me.

The other option was to utilize an old Mac Mini I have. The problem is, it's a Mac Mini. Trying to get other OS's on it is all fine and dandy, but I'm having a little difficulty with it. I can install it, but it seems to not boot after. I read about rEFIt and the fork of rEFIt known as rEFInd, but they seem to require that I install it while in OSX. This system has no OSX, so that's a bust. Likewise, I'm not that interested in using Apple hardware much at all, so my interest in troubleshooting further is about... zero.

The last option is to utilize a laptop. Now mind you, this will be running 24/7, however in my testing the system is at darn-near-idle state almost all of the time. It's pulling only 8w from the wall, which certainly makes me smile. It's a low end single core processor. Hardly anything to really use with modern day "stuff", but it seems to barely flinch, even when an active file sync kicks in.

The laptop has an exhaust vent on the side, so I can close it without blocking anything at all. Likewise, OpenMediaVault is rigged up to "do nothing" when the laptop lid is closed, which is nice as I don't have to adjust any settings since the default behavior is what I'm after. The air intake is through vents on the bottom, which is a slight concern. I'm halfway thinking about rigging up some sort of DIY stand to elevate the laptop about an inch off the ground. It's probably not overly necessary, but nonetheless, it can't hurt.

I read online about how people hesitate in regard to using a laptop as a server, citing that the hardware isn't well equipped to handle 24/7 use. I look at the hardware and question why. Take an Atom powered netbook for example and compare it to a Mini ITX Atom powered board. What's the difference? Really the only thing I can see is cooling, but if the laptop is already running cool and won't be pushed hard at all, maybe I'm on to something.

Any thoughts?
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Old 01-20-2015, 04:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop as a basic file server?

Seconds, I was wondering the same thing but couldnt be bothered to ask. I'm looking at using a laptop too as I have a spare and like you said the power used is so much less!
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop as a basic file server?

Heat would be the only issue I could see. Heat would definitely kill the life of the battery (if there's any left in an old laptop) as well. But I assume it's going to be plugged in all the time.

IMO, as long as you can cool it properly (mount some small fans on the bottom near the intake vents to give in a "boost" maybe?), I'd think it should be fine. My buddy uses an old laptop as a TeamSpeak server lol.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Laptop as a basic file server?

What about a raspberry pi with USB hard drives? cheap and power efficient.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop as a basic file server?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iFargle View Post
What about a raspberry pi with USB hard drives? cheap and power efficient.
Would that cope? I have a spare one of them laying around somewhere... it got boring so stopped using it. If you think its able to be used I might just do it??
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Laptop as a basic file server?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iFargle View Post
What about a raspberry pi with USB hard drives? cheap and power efficient.
I tried, but the Pi seems to go into hard lock mode now and then, almost as frequently as twice a day without warning. Some users online suggested this is almost always the result of an underpowered power adapter, so I moved from 700mA to 2a, but even with trying three different 2a bricks, same deal...

Ultimately I gave up on the Pi for this project. I need something I can rely on and as mentioned I want to use something that I already have in house, and the laptop is the last thing on the radar that I have in house.

In a perfect world, I'd probably buy a nettop of some sort and be done with it.
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