Installing NAS4Free on a Lacie Ethernet Disk (Rackmount)

I recently decommissioned a rack mounted 1TB Lacie Ethernet Disk. I connected up a monitor to see what  the embedded Windows XP looks like. Well it’s pretty much locked down by Lacie with very little you can do with it. It was always a little buggy for me too, shares would randomly be inaccessible until a reboot, or the admin interface would become slow and unresponsive requiring a hard reboot which was one of the reasons that it was removed from the rack.

So, thinking about whether to stick it on eBay or not I decided to first look into installing some sort of Linux on it and getting rid of the windows environment. This however, was not as straight forward as I would have liked. The hardest part was finding software that would actually install and work with the VIA C3 1Ghz processor, it seems that most modern variants of Linux have dropped support for such old architecture.

Looking into various NAS software I stumbled across NAS4Free which stated it supported the processor installed in the Lacie Ethernet Disk so I set about trying to install it.

There are two methods to get NAS4Free installed. The first is to burn the image on to a CD and the second is to copy onto a Flash Drive, I *TRIED* the latter using the following method on my MacBook Pro:

Downloaded the latest x86 version from here
Converted the ISO to IMG using Terminal

hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o /Users/Stephen/Desktop/NAS4Free-x86-LiveCD- Users/Stephen/Desktop/NAS4Free-x86-LiveCD-

Next we need to get a list of disks to see which one is the Flash Drive

diskutil list

Mine was showing as /dev/disk3, I then unmounted the drive

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk3

Now it’s time to copy the file to the Flash Drive

sudo dd if=/Users/Stephen/Desktop/NAS4Free-x86-LiveCD- of=/dev/rdisk3 bs=1m

With that done now all we need to do is boot the Lacie from the Flash Drive and install it. So I plugged in the Flash drive but the Lacie refused to boot from the USB ports no matter what settings I selected in it’s bios. Tried alternative Flash drives with no joy. I also tried the Embedded version, again with no luck.

Eventually I gave up and burned the image to CD. Removing the three screws on the back of the Lacie Ethernet Disk I connected a CD drive to the second IDE cable, set CDROM as the only boot up device and  it proceeded to boot up off the CD.

NAS4Free then installed onto the primary hard disk 250Gb with no problems at all. (I did manage to install NAS4Free onto the USB stick and it does try to boot up from it, sometimes successfully other times it just seems to hang. I guess the Flash drive is either not compatible or I just got too impatient. I will re-visit this in time though.)

Setting up NAS4Free after this was a breeze, however the next issue I ran into is that the Ethernet card installed in the Lacie Ethernet Disk simply will NOT show a link when connected to a Sky Fibre router supplied by Sky. I tested the port using my MacBook Pro and the TP-Link TL-WA701ND 150Mbps Wireless Lite N Access Point that I had set up for use with Sky HD box and it worked perfectly so there is some sort of compatibility clash between the two.

After swapping cables, trying a different Sky router (original one prior to getting Sky Fibre) I discovered that behind a blanking sticker there was an on board ethernet port. Connected that port to the Sky Fibre router, enabled it in the bios (Lacie had disabled it), rebooted and it connected fine.

So there you have it, my experience with installing NAS4Free on a 1TB Lacie Ethernet Disk (Rackmount).

Next task will be to set up the NAS4Free as a Time Machine destination, though hard drive upgrades would be essential for this.


Airport Express Woes

I have two Apple Airport Express devices. One in the loft with a USB printer and a set of speakers then another one in the living room with a set of speakers connected to it. However, the printer was randomly vanishing from the network and the speakers would cut out from time to time.

So I reset both devices and swapped them around. I noticed that the printer would remain on the network on one of the AE’s but vanish on the other. So I put the working one in the loft and just disconnected the second one assuming it was just faulty. Well today I tried resetting the suspect one and it appeared fine but iTunes would not connect to it yet my iPhone would for about 30 seconds before it decided to vanish. Both AE devices are running 6.3 which is the latest version.

Doing some research it was suggested to try downgrading the firmware then upgrading it again so that’s what I tried but it made no difference. After scouring Apple  discussions one person reported similar problems until they changed their Wireless channel to 12. I have mine on 6 as there are no other wireless networks in my range with that number.

I logged into my Sky router and changed the channel from 6 to 12 and also changed it so that it was set to 802.11g only and lo and behold it works!!

So if you have an Airport Express with the following issues :

Airport Express sound cutting out
Airport Express vanishing from network

Then try the above changes on your wireless router. You never know it may work for you 😀


Apple and their Quality

What is it with Apple and their quality?

Maybe it’s just me, maybe I am jinxed. Here is a list of Apple equipment I have bought 

PowerMac 6100 no faults
PowerMac 6400, no faults
iMac, no faults
iBook Clamshell – Off ebay, no fault.
PowerMac G4, Hissing sound from speaker, not replaced/fixed
White iBook 500Mhz, No fault
Titanium G4 PowerBook, No fault
Aluminium PowerBook G4 LOADS of faults

  • Screen faulty, faded one side
  • Keyboard problems
  • Trackpad issues
  • Cracked plastics after repair
  • Second screen, faded issue again
  • Pixels faulty after it came back from repair
  • Further problems with keyboard at this point Apple replaced it

Aluminium PowerBook G4 Second machine, 4 dead pixels and further screen issues (was sold on and Superdrive since failed)
Apple TV, died under warranty
Mac mini 1, no faults
Mac mini 2, no faults
iPod’s, iPhone and iPhone 3G no faults
Several xServes, couple of hard drive failures
Aluminium MacBook Pro, paint peeling under space bar and apple key, pitting
24″ Aluminium iMac, Defective glass replaced under warranty
Unibody MacBook Pro 1, was sent an opened and damaged machine

So, quite a few problems and now my replacement MacBook Pro has a dead pixel. I must be so unfortunate with Apple kit.

Here are a couple of photo’s of the pixel. They are being sent to Apple so they can evaluate the issue. But seriously, why do I love Apple kit so much even though there are quality issues!


Ok, after reading the above I see that most of the kit I have bought have not developed faults. However, last 3 machines have. God knows what Apple is going to say but I reckon it will be a case of  “Sorry, one dead pixel is within the acceptable failure rate for screens”.


In with the New…

Yesterday I placed an order for a MacBook Pro which Apple stated would ship within 2 days. However, to my surprise Apple shipped it yesterday and it has arrived already!

What hit me the most was the size of the box! It’s a lot smaller than the previous MacBook Pro box yet the machine is slightly wider, I would do a comparison photo but the original MacBook Pro box is in the eaves.

The glass screen looks AMAZING, I rarely need to use my MacBook Pro outdoors and if I did do I imagine this type of screen would be a nightmare as it does have quite a reflection on it if the background is dark.

Interestingly enough the box had been opened and re-sealed so I was a bit cautious as to what I might find inside. Someone thinks maybe it was upgraded, could it be that the chip is actually clocked using software in order to be the higher 2.66 instead of the 2.54 it recently replaced? The MacBook Pro itself was wrapped in the protection plastic cover, but the unit has had something done to it, what I just don’t know. The screen had part of a hand print on it and it’s obviously been wiped so I wonder if something was replaced in the machine or if this is a unit that had been returned back to Apple? I am not sure.

Just beneath the trackpad there is an indentation where it looks as though something metallic had been dropped on it, such as a dart or screwdriver or something. However, this is only visible in certain light conditions (it was really hard to take a picture of it, the iPhone was the only camera that would pick it up and it’s the smudged part on the image above.

I absolutely love the machine but I am so torn as to wether to keep it or send it back as defective/marked and take the risk that maybe the next one I get has a dead/stuck pixel which this does not. Surely it if was brand new the machine would not have part of a hand print on it.

I think I may have to call Apple and discuss this issue.