Thad wrote:So as you've probably guessed by now, I do not trust The Cloud. However, it is the year 2020 and I would very much like for my data to sync from my phone to my desktop to my laptop to my HTPC to my other HTPC to my tablet to my other tablet to my ebook reader to my other laptop and look the point is I have a fuck of a lot of networked devices.
I've got Nextcloud set up on a Rockstor server in my house. I've had no end of trouble with it and I'm pretty close to throwing my hands up.
If I do want to explore setting up a remote filesync server on someone else's metal (possibly still using Nextcloud but, presumably, without all the fiddling I have to do to run it on my own machine), are there any good, trustworthy, reasonably-priced remote servers where I can set up a VM? Amazon and Google are right out and I'm not thrilled at the thought of going with Microsoft, either.
So this is the thing about that:
A decade or so back (around the time I got a laptop and started using a password locker), I started using Owncloud on my Mac Pro to sync files across my various devices. Eventually the Mac wasn't up to the task anymore; it's from 2006, it's unsupported, and while I could probably get Debian or Fedora to install on it, a 2006-vintage dual-Xeon* consumes a ridiculous amount of power by modern standards and I'd just as soon not have one running 24/7.
So I did some research and figured a dedicated NAS OS would be the way to go. The best-known OS for this purpose is FreeNAS, but the community didn't seem very friendly. Here's an excerpt from the hardware guide they had up, specifically targeting new users:
ZFS loves memory. If you are shocked at the idea of a NAS needing 8GB of memory, get over it. Buy 16GB at a minimum. It's 2013. Memory is cheap. FreeNAS and ZFS requires a minimum of 8GB. You are not special. You are not the exception to that. You must outfit your box with at least 8GB. But seriously, you are strongly encouraged to go with 16 or more.
So, y'know, great first impression. And the rest of the forum seemed much the same -- insistence on expensive system specs that were far out of proportion to simple home-use cases, coupled with insults and condescension.
So I wound up going with Rockstor, which is basically trying to be a Linux equivalent to FreeNAS.
And let me tell you something: given that my choice of Rockstor over FreeNAS was based primarily on how friendly their communities seemed, I have been entirely satisfied with my choice on those grounds. The Rockstor community has been friendly and helpful and responded quickly whenever I've asked for help.
And their Owncloud plugin worked great, for years.
But eventually I started having trouble with it. The Owncloud plugin was out of date, and I had some trouble with filesystem corruption on Btrfs.
So, the deal with Btrfs is, Sun introduced a filesystem called ZFS back in 2001, and it's become the gold standard for network storage. And back before Oracle bought Sun and ruined everything, they released it under an open-source license. Unfortunately, that license is generally believed to be incompatible with the GPL, which the Linux kernel is published under, so ZFS support can't be included in the Linux kernel.
Btrfs is the Linux community's attempt to provide the same kind of robust filesystem for fileservers that ZFS does. And it sucks. To give you an idea of what a goddamn mess Btrfs is, take a look at the Btrfsck documentation, which spends its first section explaining that Btrfs's repair tool will most likely fuck your shit up and you should only use it as an absolute last resort after you've tried everything else.
Now, to be fair, I used Btrfs for years without having any trouble -- but then, as if to make up for lost time, I started having a bunch of Btrfs problems all the past year or so. I had problems with my OpenSUSE desktop, then my Rockstor server, then the Manjaro installation that replaced my OpenSUSE installation.
Around the same time as my Btrfs issues on Rockstor, my Owncloud clients all started complaining that I was running an ancient, unsupported version of the server software. Whatever upstream Docker container Rockstor had derived its Owncloud plugin from, it was no longer maintained.
So I asked about this on the Rockstor forums, asked if there were plans for a new Owncloud container or maybe Nextcloud, the fork that most of Owncloud's original developers have switched over to (think OpenOffice/LibreOffice). While there was no new official Owncloud plugin, and no Nextcloud plugin, one of the forum mods put together a Nextcloud plugin for me based on the official one he found on Docker. Again, the community support for Rockstor is great and I can't praise those guys enough.
But, they're just a couple of guys, and while they've provided the best support they possibly can for my use-case, I think I've hit the limits of what they're able to help me with. They haven't been able to provide much guidance on the problems I've been having with Btrfs and Nextcloud, and I've had ongoing performance issues, lockups, and filesystem errors.
And so I'm done.
In the years since I first looked into FreeNAS, it's been bought out by another company, and they seem to have cracked down on the asshattery in the community forums. That post I linked up above isn't even there anymore; I've linked to an archive.org version from last fall, and even that archived version has been updated to reflect that these hardware recommendations don't reflect the current standards.
The new company is still in the business of selling expensive hardware; its cheapest NAS device is $700, without any storage. But for home users, the new management provides much more reasonable hardware requirements than the old forums did; none of the "if you have less than 16GB ECC, or if you're using AMD processor, we won't even try to help you" attitude that put me off before.
So I'm gonna give FreeNAS a shot. I bought a case yesterday on eBay; it's a previous model FreeNAS box, so it probably would have been the $700 entry-level model a couple of years ago; I got it for about $80 with shipping. I'm not quite sure how functional it is; from the listing:
IxSystems FreeNas Mini NAS server enclosure/case. Condition is For parts or not working. Buyer agrees to accept as is. HDDs not included but motherboard, power supply, power cord, atom processer and 16GB of ECC RAM is included.
So I'm not clear from that whether it just means it's non-functional because he took all the hard drives out, or whether it's actually broken and doesn't work at all. But even if I have to replace the motherboard, $80 is still a good price just for the case. Or, if the RAM's still good, that's a good price just for 16GB of ECC.
So, one more project to keep me busy while I'm stuck at home. And then hopefully before too long I can get back to not thinking about my NAS at all.
* that's dual-processor, not dual-core