I have started to enhance the work that I did last weekend with Nextcloud on FreeNAS™. I promised to share the innards of my work but first I have to set the right expectations for the readers. This blog is just a documentation of the early work I have been doing to get Nextcloud on FreeNAS™ off the ground quickly. Also there are far better blogs than mine on the Nextcloud topic.
This is tested on FreeNAS™ 11.2U5 on Virtualbox. This is an EOLed version. The Nextcloud version on this FreeNAS is version 17, not the latest version. I am testing this version for a friend.
These are quick and dirty instructions set to install and configure Nextcloud. It is not for production and it is not secure. Future blogs will discuss about HTTPS, SSL certificate and Reverse Proxy.
I ride on the shoulders of giants. Many have done great work to create instruction video with Nextcloud on FreeNAS™. I thank you to these folks for their great and selfless Youtube videos contributions.
In recent weeks, I have been asked by friends and old cust0mers on how to extend their NAS shared drives to work-from-home, the new reality. Malaysia went into a full lockdown as of June 1st several days ago.
I have written about file synchronization stories before but I have never done a Nextcloud blog. I have little experience with TrueNAS® CORE Nextcloud plugin and this was a good weekend to build it up from scratch with Virtualbox with FreeNAS™ 11.2U5 (because my friend was using that version).
So, here it how it went for my little experiment. FYI, this is not a How-to guide. That will come later after I have put all my notes together with screenshots and all. This is just a collection of my thoughts while setting up Nextcloud on FreeNAS™.
Dropbox® is expensive
Using cloud storage with file sync and share capability is not exactly a cheap thing especially when you are a small medium sized business or a school or a charity organization. Here is the pricing table for Dropbox® for Business :
Dropbox for business pricing
I am using Dropbox® as the example here but the same can be said for OneDrive or Google Drive and others. The pricing can quickly add up when the price is calculated per user per month.
The original SAN was not always Storage Area Network. SAN had a twin nomenclature called System Area Network (SAN) back in the late 90s. Fibre Channelfabric topology (THE Storage Area Network) was only starting to take off when many of the Fibre Channel topologies at the time were either FC-AL (Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop) or Point-to-Point. So, for a while SAN was System Area Network, or at least that was what Microsoft® wanted it to be. That SAN obviously did not take off.
System Area Network (architecture shown below) presented a high speed network where server clusters can communicate. The communication protocol of choice was VIA (Virtual Interface Adapter), and the proposed applications, notably the Microsoft® SQL Server, would use Winsock API to interface with the network services. Cache coherency in the combined memory resources of a clustered network is often the technology to ensure data synchronization, consistency and integrity.
Alas, System Area Network did not truly take off, and now it is pretty much deprecated from the Microsoft® universe.
I took a week off blogging last week but the lazy days were inundated by bad news. A few more devastating ransomware attacks. This time, Colonial Pipeline in the US was hacked and its networks were shutdown by ransomware. These ransomware threats are never ending, and they are getting more damaging than ever. It is like trying to plug a leaking boat with your hands, and more leaks appear as you plug them.
More ransomware news hitting healthcare around the world last week:
We are forever chasing for a solution, forever losing because almost all technology defenses to protect the data against ransomware are reactive. Why is ransomware still such a big threat then? Time to rethink file security fundamentals.
I am not a Bitcoin miner nor am I a Chia coin farmer, and my knowledge and experience in both are very shallow. But I recently became interested in the 2 main activities of Chia – plotting and farming, because they both involved storage. I am writing this blog to find out more and document about my learning experience.
[ NB: This blog does not help you make money. It is just informational from a storage technology perspective. ]
Proof of Space and Time
Bitcoin is based on Proof-of-Work (PoW). In a nutshell, there is a complex mathematical puzzle to be solved. Bitcoin miners compete to solve this puzzle and the process uses high computational processing to solve it. Once solved, the miners are rewarded for their work.
Newer entrants like Filecoin and Chia coin (XCH) use an alternate method which is Proof-of-Space (PoS) to validate and verify the transactions. Instead of miners, Chia coin farmers have to prove to have a legitimate amount of disk and/or memory space to solve a mathematical puzzle, conceptually similar to the one in Bitcoin mining. In the beginning, this was great for folks who have unused disk space that can be “rented” out to store the crypto stuff (Note: I am not familiar with the terminology yet, and I did not want to use the word “crypto tokens” incorrectly). Storj was one of the early vendors that I remember in this space touting this method but I have not followed them for a while. Their business model might have changed.
In your opinion, which is the best storage technology? Yes, that question.
I wanted to write this commentary because someone with a PhD posted that question in a different context (below) on Facebook last week. It obviously touched a nerve with me because these are the same kinds of questions I get a lot through the latter half of my career. Next year will be my 30th year, and they have been primarily evolved around storage (alot!), data and Oil & Gas petro-technical computing and subsurface data management.
Best software for Big Data Analysis?
So, obviously, like a specialist doctor at a meeting, many would gather and ask that question over and over again. Too many to c0unt.
Do what the Irishman does
More often than not, the real reason behind that question is always about something else. And to find out more, do what the Irishman does. Always answer the question with another question.
Side story. I learn this Irishman anecdote from an Irishman while working at NetApp® 21 years ago. I am looking at you, Niall Doherty!
The Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) file sharing service in the MacOS Server is gone. The AFP file server capability was dropped in MacOS version 11, aka Big Sur back in December last year. The AFP clientis the last remaining piece in MacOS and may see its days numbered as well as the world of file services evolved from the simple local networks and workgroup collaboration of the 80s and 90s, to something more complex and demanding. The AFP’s decline was also probably aided by the premium prices of Apple hardware, and many past users have switched to Windows for frugality and prudence reasons. SMB/CIFS is the network file sharing services for Windows, and AFP is not offered in Windows natively.
MacOS supports 3 of the file sharing protocols natively – AFP, NFS and SMB/CIFS – as a client. Therefore, it has the capability to collaborate well in many media and content development environments, and sharing and exchanging files easily, assuming that the access control and permissions and files/folders ownerships are worked out properly. The large scale Apple-only network environment is no longer feasible and many studios that continue to use Macs for media and content development have only a handful of machines and users.
NAS vendors that continue to support AFP file server services are not that many too, or at least those who advertise their support for AFP. iXsystems™TrueNAS® is one of the few. This blog shows the steps to setup the AFP file services for MacOS clients.
George Herbert Leigh Mallory, mountaineer extraordinaire, was once asked “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?“, in which he replied “Because it’s there“. That retort demonstrated the indomitable human spirit and probably exemplified best the relationship between the human being’s desire to conquer the physical limits of nature. The software of humanity versus the hardware of the planet Earth.
Juxtaposing, similarities can be said between software and hardware in computer systems, in storage technology per se. In it, there are a few schools of thoughts when it comes to delivering storage services with the notable ones being the storageappliance model and the software-defined storage model.
There are arguments, of course. Some are genuinely partisan but many a times, these arguments come in the form of the flavour of the moment. I have experienced in my past companies touting the storage appliance model very strongly in the beginning, and only to be switching to a “software company” chorus years after that. That was what I meant about the “flavour of the moment”.
Labelling Seagate as the best performer in a Backblaze report not only sounded oxymoronic. It was moronic. For those of us who have the industry experience, we know enough that this cannot be true with just a one fell swoop statement.
Petapixel misleading article title
Backblaze has been releasing Hard Drive Stats and Report every quarter since 2013. For many of us practitioners, the report has been the de facto standard and indicator of hard disks reliability. Inadvertently, it defines the quality of the hard disk drives associated with the respective manufacturer’s brand and models.