Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

Over the years, I’ve setup dozens of Synology Network Appliances for customers and friends. But I never thought of doing much writing in the NAS space, be it for ReadyNAS, Thecus, Buffalo, etc. The interfaces seemed to change too fast and my focus was always on the management and connectivity of Apple devices. Slowly, over the years, small business servers have gone from being something you could make a decent living to something that should probably be hosted in the cloud.

Unless you have a design requirement that just can’t work in the cloud. And for that, there are a ton of options. Today we’ll cover the basic setup of a Synology to fill one of those options. Synology has a number of models. There are those that have multiple drive bays that allow you to run a RAID 50 and there are those with just two drive bays, that allow you to run RAID 1, or 0. But most have a similar, and sleek setup process. Start by putting all the drives in the bays and then powering up your device.

When the device comes online, plug in your Ethernet cable (preferably to a gig or 10gig interface) and then open your web browser and go to You’ll see a pretty basic screen with details about the device. Click Connect.

When prompted, click Set Up.

When prompted, install the latest security updates (note: you want to do this before you start sending sensitive credentials over the wire. It’s fast. )

This is important. Those drives you put in that Synology were empty, right? ‘Cause if you proceed here, they better be. Or they will be after. If they are empty, check the box and click OK.

At the “Create your administrator account” screen enter the hostname you want to be given to your server, a username, password, password a second time to make sure, and blood type. Wait, blood type goes on the next screen, so click Next.

Sike! No blood type required. At the superfluous Congratulations screen, click next again!

At the maintenance window, select a time that the device can install updates and reboot. Also, it’s a good idea to check both of the boxes at the bottom – S.M.A.R.T. tests don’t always save you from catastrophic data loss, but it does save you way more than if you don’t use it. And bad sector warnings aren’t good either. Click Next.

A QuickConnect account allows you to access your server remotely. That’s a great thing to have. If you have one, provide it here; otherwise, give Synology an email address and password and they’ll make it simple to manage your device remotely (which includes grabbing files off it when you’re at work, etc).

Copy that link (although it’s kinda’ easy to remember as it’s<DEVICENAME>). 

I’m ok skipping the recommended packages, as I like to have more control of what’s installed on my devices, but if you’re just going to use a Synology as a basic file or Time Machine server and want as few steps as possible here, click Install. 

That’s it, click OK to be donezo. 

When you finally get into the main screen, notice that it’s kinda’ like a stripped down KDE interface. The main two things to know are Control Panel and Package Center. If you skipped installing some of the packages in the previous step, you’ll do that in Package Center. But first, let’s check out the global device settings by clicking on Control Panel.

At the Control Panel, the main things most users will want to do first are manage accounts and addresses (if you’re going to connect client computers to a file server, for example, you’re gonna’ want a static IP). So let’s click Network to configure a network interface. 

The General tab is for configuring your default gateway, upstream name servers, etc. Click Network Interface so we can enter a static address for a LAN interface. But before you do, take note that the Traffic Control tab provides the ability to do some basic traffic shaping if this box is going to run multiple services.
Let’s click on the LAN interface.

Here, you can enter the IP, subnet mask, gateway, and name server. Make sure the IP doesn’t overlap with an existing device or with a DHCP pool. I won’t go into configuring a Synology for VLAN tagging or to be a first class citizen on an 802.1x network, but note that both of those options are available here. Click OK to save your changes.

You didn’t pay good money for this thing for no reason. So next, let’s close these screens and go back to the main screen. Open Package Center. 

As you can see, there are a ton more services here than, for example, the built-in services on a macOS Server. And it’s as easy as clicking on the Install button to get started with each.

March 15th, 2018

Posted In: Network Infrastructure

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Netatalk seems to always have some issue with OS X. Why I still use little NAS boxes for this that and the other is beyond me. I got stuck dealing with this for a little while and if you’re using Netatalk w/ a DHCAST128 UAM you probably will too. For more on DHCAST see the Netatalk page on UAM support. Kerberos and DHX2 are arguably better, but I’ve found they don’t always work right on some of my NAS boxes. This wasn’t just a quick defaults command as it was in previous instances. It’s not much of a script but the following should fix it if you’re having this issue like I was. /usr/bin/defaults write /Library/Preferences/ afp_host_prefs_version -int 1 /bin/sleep 60 /usr/bin/defaults write /Library/Preferences/ afp_disabled_uams -array “Cleartxt Passwrd” “MS2.0″ “2-Way Randnum exchange” I had to reboot on one of my machines after this but on the others I didn’t. Hope it helps someone else… And if you want to go back to the way things were before, simply remove com.AppleShareClient.plist from /Library/Preferences (w/ sudo): rm /Library/Preferences/

July 21st, 2011

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac Security

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NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices are a popular alternative to providing centralized file services to smaller environments. This includes devices such as the Seagate BlackArmor, the DroboShare NAS and the Netgear ReadyNAS Pro. These are inexpensive as compared to an actual server, they require less management and they often come with some pretty compelling features. But one of the primary reasons to buy a NAS can end up being a potential pain point as well: they require less management than a server because they can’t do as much as a server can. For example, the option to replicate between two of them. Most have NAS to NAS replication built in. However, that replication ends up being dependent on having two of them. But what if you just have a machine on the other side of the replication, want to back it up remotely compressed or want to back up to a cloud environment. Well, if it’s not the same daemon then you’re typically stuck with CIFS, NFS, HTTPS (WebDAV) or FTP. The devices don’t typically give you the option to push directly from it nor to run a daemon that non-proprietary device can connect to directly, so you’d have to use a client to do the offsite sync. One example of how to do this would be to use JungleDisk and an Amazon S3 account. JungleDisk would mount the AmazonS3 storage and the NAS storage (all share points). You would then use a tool such as ChronoSync, Retrospect (Duplicate scripts not backup scripts btw) or even rsync to backup the device over CIFS. It’s not pretty, it’s extra latency and management, but it would work. The reason you would do synchronization is that if you attempt to backup (a la Retrospect Backup Scripts) then you’d send big, monolithic files over the wire. The smaller increments of data you can send over the wire the better. Another tool that can do that type of sync is File Replication Pro. That would actually do blocks instead of files, pushing an even smaller increment of data over the wire. There are certainly other services. You could even open up the firewall (for just the specific ports/IP addresses requiring connectivity, which is always a potential security risk) and have a remote backup service come in and pull the data sync over FTP, CIFS or WebDAV (if you want to stick with a cloud backup solution), but those types of services are a bit more difficult to find. The same is pretty much the same for cloud based storage. With the exception that instead of a built-in feature you’re either looking for a built-in feature or an API that allows you to develop your own. The moral of this story, if you use a NAS or a cloud-based solution and you want to back your data up, then your options are limited. Keep this in mind when you decide to purchase a NAS rather than, let’s say, a Mac OS X Server running on a Mac Mini with some Direct Attached Storage (DAS) connected to it.

October 27th, 2009

Posted In: Network Infrastructure

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The iSCSI Initiator that we use for connecting Windows to iSCSI targets has a friend.  It’s called Microsoft Windows Storage Server, which you can use to turn a DAS RAID in a Windows box into a LUN for iSCSI.  Good stuff.  Check out the data sheet here: d84b1c50-e0bb-45ba-b2f4-356f4f456a88/WUDSS%20Datasheet_Final.doc Now that’s not to say they’re the only game in town.  iSCSI Target is also a feature of OpenSolaris: And there’s a nifty little Open Source Project called iSCSI Enterprise Target:

June 12th, 2008

Posted In: Windows Server

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