Free (Libre) NAS?

There has been a small amount of speculation that Purism might create a NAS.

It so happens I’m in the market for a NAS, and pretty basically need to make a decision this week.

In the absence (at the moment) of a Purism NAS…who is least objectionable?

In Europe there are those APU(sorry first English Link i’ve found) Systems that are AFAIK running Coreboot as their Bios I know their CPU is kinda old but it should still work with most NAS workloads as well as being able to run PFsense as a Firewall which is what I’m going to use it for.

I use FreeNAS, based on FreeBSD. I built my own box from parts, but took a lot of inspiration from this blog. I linked to his latest article, but he has been posting a new build almost every year, and has some options for different budgets as well.

If you are willing to spend some $$$ you can get a pre-made box, the FreeNas Mini from iXsystems, the company behind the continued development of FreeNAS. If you are looking for something bigger they offer rack mount stuff too.

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You haven’t been explicit about what your requirements are but there is a “wish list” topic at Your Purism products wish list and it may help to guide product development if you spell out what would be appropriate for you.

Some general parameters would include:

  • Total amount of usable disk storage required
  • whether RAID is required
  • whether you think an ARM device will be up to the job or you want x86
  • how much memory you want
  • whether it must be fanless
  • whether any video output is required and if so at what spec
  • any additional hardware e.g. WiFi (client or AP mode), BT

I have the suspicion that any NAS from Purism is very speculative at this stage, so as far as alternatives go, it is a question of whether you want just hardware (and will install a special-purpose distro or will install a general distro yourself - hence depending on your level of Linux experience) or you want it basically ready to go out-of-the-box - and what your budget is.

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To run pfSense on a router, I ended up getting one of these recently:
You can also get it with coreboot. Runs really well. Of course, this is not a NAS…

@pfm Your probably right I’ve got a little bit hung up on the “Libre” aspect of it which in my opinion means the least amount of closed source Firmware on the device.
This excludes most of the typical NAS boxes.
I didn’t know about the FreeNAS stuff @nonesuchnick mentioned otherwise I’d have advised them.
But Most of all I think @kieran is right we need more Info from @SteveC about his requirements to give better advice.

Well, after looking over FreeNAS it should fit the bill. Yes, it’s a bit more money, and my choice is between a unit that is slightly less than I wanted, and one that is MUCH more than I wanted…Well, I’ll bite on it anyway. It’s going to cost some bucks but hopefully the problem will be SOLVED for the foreseeable future.

(Fortunately I know where I can get 6TB WD Reds for fairly cheap.)

So, my thanks to everyone who participated!

I know I’m a little bit late to the party, but if you’re looking for a quasi-open hardware platform for NAS, I recently bought a Helios4 from The preferred platform is Armbian but there are instructions on how to install other OS’s on it, like OpenMediaVault. I’ve had it for a couple of months now and it’s been really rock solid. I have no problem recommending it.

The only caveat is that they only take orders when creating a new “batch”. I don’t know if they have any more in stock at the moment, but it’s possible since their most recent batch recently shipped.

Some exciting news was recently announced. It turns out that the new and improved Helios64 is about to start pre-orders, to be shipped in March 2020. The previous iterations like the Helios4 have been released as open hardware and I expect this new model to follow the same philosophy. Here’s the announcement, which includes the full specs.

One caveat is that the first models of the Helios64 will not have ECC RAM, unlike the previous Helios4’s (which are now unavailable). According to the comments on the blog there could be an ECC version released shortly after the first Helios64 model but could have reduced RAM specs.

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