Free Network Attached Storage (NAS) File Server Operating System Distributions

Make a NAS from your old computer

Free Network Attached Storage (NAS) File Server Operating System Distributions

Do you have an old desktop computer or notebook lying around that you don't know what to do with? Why not convert it into a dedicated file server (also known as a Network Attached Storage device), attached to your network, where everyone connected can save and share files? It can even be handy as a network backup device where you can back up computers connected to the network.

While you can always do this yourself manually by getting one of the free Linux distributions or free BSD operating systems and setting it up, it's much faster and easier to simply use one of the NAS server operating system distributions listed on this page. The software quickly converts your abandoned or no-longer used computer, by removing the existing operating system, installing the new one, setting up the partitions, and installing various servers so that it can be used as a file server. All you need to do after installing it is to attach that computer to the network, then log into it using a web browser from another computer on the network to configure it. When you're done, all the computers connected to the network will be able to access that server, save and retrieve files from it, etc.

It's a quick and easy way to re-use/recycle old computers so that they can actually be useful again. Of course if you really need reliable and huge storage, you may want to replace the ageing hard disk on that old computer with newer, larger capacity ones. But if you simply want some quick and easy way to pass files between members of your household, and aren't too worried if the old computer finally dies while still containing data, then you can use your old computer hardware as-is.

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Free Network Attached Storage (NAS) File Server Operating System Distributions


Openmediavault is an open source Network-attached storage (NAS) distribution based on Debian Linux. It features web-based administration, IPv6 support, Wake On Lan, file sharing, S.M.A.R.T., SNMP (v1/2c/3) read-only, email notifications, SSH, FTP, SMB/CIFS, NFS (v3/v4), TFTP, RSync, etc, with plugins that also support things like Bittorrent, DAAP server, antivirus, etc.

XigmaNAS: The Free Network Attached Storage Project

XigmaNAS (formerly NAS4Free) supports x86 and x64 computers (eg PCs and Macs) and ARM-based systems (Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi 2, ODROID-C1). It is based on FreeBSD and supports sharing across Windows, Apple and Unix-type systems. Features include software RAID, disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T, email alerts, support for an assortment of file systems (including ZFS v5000, Ext2/3, FAT, NTFS, UFS) and network protocols (including SMB/CIFS [Samba], Active Directory Domain Controller [Samba], FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI [initiator and target], HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and Bittorent), etc. You can install the system onto a hard disk, SSD, Flash drive, or even boot it from a LiveCD or LiveUSB.

TrueNAS Core

TrueNAS Core (formerly FreeNAS) lets you quickly and easily set up a disused, abandoned or no-longer wanted computer (be it a desktop or laptop) as a Network Attached Server. The software installs a BSD operating system onto the computer, as well as the necessary software so that you can log into that computer (now a server) and configure it via a browser on another system. You can set up user accounts, assign them specific directories, set up the disks on the computer, get various reports about the server status, decide whether the directories are read-only or writable, etc, via a web browser. It supports CIF (SAMBA), FTP, NFS, Apple AFP, rsync, iSCSI protocols, S.M.A.R.T., local user authentication, Software RAID (RAID 0, 1 and 5), etc. You can either install it on the server's hard disk, onto a Compact Flash drive, or a USB key.

Openfiler: Open Source Appliance Storage

Openfiler is a network storage operating system, using Linux, that supports a web-based management user interface, file-based storage networking protocols like CIFS and NFS, fibre channel and iSCSI functionality, etc. Openfiler is licensed under the GNU General Public License. (Don't be deceived by the "Buy" link on their site -- that's for support and some other stuff. The software can be downloaded and used free of charge.)

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