How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700

Installing FreeNAS

For the initial software installation we need to work directly on the T5700. That means connecting a VGA and keyboard to the system. Since it doesn’t have a PS/2 type keyboard connector I used a USB attached keyboard.

To start the process of building the software load you’ll need to download the live CD ISO version of FreeNAS. At the time of my installation this was v 0.686.4 (stable). The live CD is used when you want to boot the software from CD, and it stores its configuration files on a floppy disk or USB key. If you’re using a traditional PC as the host platform you can run FreeNAS in this manner without ever truly installing it to a hard drive.

For our purposes we want to take advantage of a menu option that allows you to install FreeNAS to some other media (disk or flash) present on the host platform. This is the easiest way to install FreeNAS to the disk in the T5700. What is needed is a small boot partition (30 MB) for FreeNAS, then the rest of the disk (232 GB once formatted) as a separate partition for the SqueezeCenter software and music library.

To boot to the CD I used a portable external CD drive in a USB housing. My T5700s are set to boot to their USB port if not other media is present. You may need to set the BIOS in your device to boot to USB attached device.

FreeNAS boot menu
FreeNAS boot menu

Start by selecting the option to install FreeNAS to the internal hard drive. On the following menu select the option to establish separate partitions for FreeNAS and other data. Once the install process is complete disconnect the external CD drive and reboot. Once rebooted we can address other core system setups.

Since the T5700 has only one network interface it doesn’t need to be assigned. You can set the device to DHCP if desired, or change the IP address to something suitable for your network. From this point you can complete the configuration using the web based GUI.

There are quite a number of configuration possibilities in FreeNAS, many of which are beyond the scope of its application in a dedicated music server. If you wish to investigate these further please read the excellent documentation provided at the projects web site.

Configuring The Disk

Once FreeNAS is running you need to configure it to use the remainder of the hard drive space, making it accessible as a share point. Connect to the web interface by pointing a browser at the systems IP address. The default web login is “admin” with a password of “freenas.” Once logged in you may elect to change this login & password for security purposes.

FreeNAS basic status display
FreeNAS basic status display

Start by going to the Disk Management menu and add the disk to the system.

The Disk Management menu, where the drive is added to the system
The Disk Management menu, where the drive is added to the system

Only one drive will be offered (ad0) as available for use. The lower setting for “preformatted file system” should be set for “UFS with soft updates.” Then select [Save] to store the configuration.

FreeNAS disk management process for adding the disk
FreeNAS disk management process for adding the disk

The second partition of the drive was already formatted during the base install process so we can skip the formatting step and proceed to establish a mount point. Select [Mount Point] from the menu and [+] to add a mount.

The Mount Point Menu showing the second partition mounted
The Mount Point Menu showing the second partition mounted

The mount desired is /dev/ad0s2. Specify the second partition. The file system type is UFS. I simply called the mount “freenas”.

Adding the mount point for the second partition
Adding the mount point for the second partition

The next step to Create & enable a CIFS share so that we can put media on the drive. Select [CIFS/SMB] from the FreeNAS menu. On the settings tab enable CIFS/SMB sharing and select an authentication type. To get started I allowed anonymous file sharing although user permissions can be established locally, or the server can integrate with a domain.

Enabling CIFS/SMB sharing
Enabling CIFS/SMB sharing

We complete the configuration of FreeNAS by adding an SMB share point. On the CIFS/SMB menu select the Shares tab, then select [+] to add a share.

Creating the CIFS/SMB share to hold the music
Creating the CIFS/SMB share to hold the music

Give the share a sensible name and select the path offered, which is the previously established mount point. [Save] the settings.

At this point you should be able to connect to the NAS from another system. In Windows XP I typically use the Start/Run dialogue and enter freenas.ip.address.here to confirm that I can connect to the remote share. Here’s the result on my system.

Connected to the new share on FreeNAS from a Windows PC
Connected to the new share on FreeNAS from a Windows PC

7 thoughts on “How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700”

  1. I can’t find a 40 pin IDE cable anywhere, and neither can I find a hard disk so…

    Are you sure you didn’t mean a 44 pin?
    If it was a 40 pin, can you give me the models of the HDD and IDE cable?

  2. Nice post.
    You have done a thorough job of explaining a step-by-step process to set up a combo that I had my eye on for some time now – I will definitely use it for a reference 🙂

  3. Great article. I just built a similar system using the VortexBox linux distro. It has more features then FreeNAS including auto CD ripping.

  4. Great article, I have purchased a T5700, an SATA->IDE converter and a SODIMM of 512MB. However I wonder what the recommended HDD is, since I read somewhere that the power of the IDE connection is quite limited. Any suggestions would be welcome (brand, type, size)!

    1. I’m reasonably certain that any 2.5″ IDE HD can be powered from the IDE connector. I’m not certain if a 2.5″ SATA HD requires a separate power connection. If it does then anything you can rig up will surely work. The power requirements of HD has been steadily declining as each new generation of HD comes along.

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