Ramblings of General Geekery

Don’t brick your ReadyNAS

I have a ReadyNAS NV+ at home to store most of my data and I’ve been pretty happy with it so far… except for one thing: although it’s running a flavor of Linux that you can access as root user (if you installed the EnableRootSSH add-on), you can’t do everything you would normally do with a Linux box.

File Server

First, like most pre-2010 consumer grade NASes, the NV+ runs on a sparc CPU, so there’s a lot of packages you don’t have access to unless you recompile them yourself. And that’s fine, if you know you’re going to waste your whole evening figuring out weird broken dependencies and compile errors. But, second, there’s some custom stuff in there, I don’t know what it is, but it basically prevents you from even upgrading to newer versions of some of the packages you do have access to. This means: don’t run apt-get upgrade on an NV+.

Let me repeat that: don’t run apt-get upgrade on an NV+. Ever.

What happens when you do it is that you lose SSH access, the web administration interface stops working, some of your network shares become inaccessible, and half of your left socks magically disappear. I know, I did it twice in the past (yes, I’m stupid like that).

In both cases, I was lucky enough to recover from my mistake by performing an OS reinstall. It keeps all the packages, add-ons and configuration settings you had before, and only resets the admin password to netgear1 or infrant1 (depending on the version of RAIDiator you had installed), so it almost works again right away afterwards. The downside is that if what fucked up your NAS was one of those add-ons or packages, you wouldn’t have any other option than to do a factory reset and recover your data from a backup (you at least have daily automated backups, right?). But in my case, I think it was one of the OS libraries (like glibc or something) that was causing the issue so that’s where I got lucky. Twice.

Those are the only problems I ever had with that box, so overall I’m still happy to own it. The X-RAID that comes with it makes life a lot easier (you can hot-swap disks, and you can mix different disk sizes), and the machine is small and pretty quiet (my external backup disks are louder). Unlike my media center PC, I wouldn’t have much fun trying to build my own NAS, I think.