Network attached storage (NAS) is a very common and cost-effective storage system. Also, by expanding the group of target users, it needs to be modernized and upgraded constantly. NAS servers are representing a large and promising market. Although this market is today dominated by large storage companies using proprietary solutions or licenses, there are several projects which aim at designing an open NAS product.
Although NAS may function with many popular operating systems, open NAS Linux operating system. Linux, due to its large platforms and file systems support, is a natural candidate to build a new generation of open NAS server, using only open source tools and inexpensive hardware, like standard PCs. An ideal open source NAS solution can be built associated with strategies where the operating system runs from solid states devices, like pendrives or compact flash cards.
Open NAS gives an opportunity for the system to develop, not only by a group of specialists employed in one company. This is in compliance with the principle and practice of open source which is based on peer production by collaboration and cooperation. The outcome of open source practices including final product, source-material and documentation is available the public for free.
There are two basic project aims for open NAS systems. The first was to define general procedures and programs for generating a live version of the system, which boots from solid state devices, starting from a running system. The scripts were modified to support Debian Linux and to generate bootable pendrives.
The second goal was to create web interfaces for open NAS administration. This is carried out by re-using known technologies. The interfaces simplify the configuration work, defining good metaphors for complex administration tasks like RAID setup, partitioning and file system exporting.
These two aims, associated with a particular PC hardware, defines the basis of an open NAS solution. For instance, there is a solution using a PC motherboard with RAID 0 or 1, USB booting and four standard 256GB IDE disks which can provide a NAS system with 512GB (RAID 1) or even 1TB (RAID 0). Obviously, better hardware platforms using e.g. SATA disks improve performance and add hot swap capability to the system.
Some open NAS projects have been accomplished, but many of them are at the design or modification phase, to improve system performance, availability and to add new functionalities.