LaCie Ethernet Big Disk 1Tb + Linux

For ages I've wanted to have a network attached storage (NAS) system in the house, so my music collection, photos, reference documents and so-on can be accessed from one place. Last week I took the plunge and bought myself a new LaCie Ethernet Big Disk 1Tb - a whopping terabyte of NAS goodness. In the last five minutes, though, I just turned it off and packed it back in the box to be flogged on eBay. Here's a brief description of the one week voyage from happiness to disillusionment.

First, when it arrived I had much the same warm fuzzy feeling as when my Mac Powerbook arrived a few years back: it's solid, silver, beautifully presented: full marks to LaCie on quality of design and construction. The user manual is a little thin, though, and despite saying "fully Linux compatible" on the side there's no mention of Linux in it. Hmm, warning bells.

I have a busy few days, but finally get round to getting the disk up and running - it requires a bit of guesswork and worrying use of root privileges to get the Linux version of the config tool working, and all in all it just seems to scan the subnet and tell me which IP it's gone to. Open Web browser, type in IP and it's there. After a few minutes of fighting the incredibly sluggish config pages, I have a share set up and running, but the bad news is that I don't have any real Unixy networking protocols available - just SMB, FTP/HTTP and a bunch of Mac stuff that I couldn't care about. Okay, let's start copying some files: 80 Gb of FLAC rips to start with. A couple of hours later I come back hoping it's done - nope, I've got a warning message at track 14 about invalid characters in the filename. The bloody thing is running an embedded Windows OS and the filename restrictions apply. Fully Linux compatible my arse - I have to talk to it over a Windows networking protocol and only Windows filenames are allowed.

The final straw is the media server - Rhythmbox on my laptop sees the NAS/media server but FLAC and Ogg files don't count as media. Bah. A few days of kicking my feet in frustration and I'm decided: the EBD, beautiful though it is, is to be sold and replaced with some IDE disks, maybe RAID5'd, of equal capacity. Sadly there seems to be no-one on the Web who's managed to get a *nix OS installed on an EBD so it can be made to behave in the way that people like me want it to... oh well. I'll run my desktop PC as a file server for the time being and if it works well, maybe a dedicated low power machine will be a sensible option in future.

Hopefully this might be a useful cautionary tale for others who'd like a big NAS disk and want to access it in the *nix way - the LaCie EBD is very pretty, but might not play nicely enough with your OS of choice to make you happy...


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