Rockstor: an introduction

Right, time to get into the OS of the NAS: Rockstor! If you haven’t seen my series on the 2016 NAS, be sure to check that out first!

When I was deciding which OS to run, I had a few objectives to achieve:

  • Linux based for familiarity
  • A checksumming filesystem (like ZFS or BTRFS)
  • Stability
  • Simple UI to work with
  • Good performance
  • Good hardware compatibility
  • Drive health monitoring and reporting

Screenshot from 2016-07-05 19:44:51

I didn’t want to use FreeNAS with ZFS due to the huge memory requirements (I only have 4GB of RAM in this box, expandable up to 8) where ZFS requires 4GB plus 1GB per 1TB of hard drive storage. BTRFS also has checksumming capabilities, but the large amount of RAM is not required.

As for Linux, Rockstor runs on CentOS 7, which is similar to Ubuntu in many ways (except package handling, which is not hard to pick up) – this makes it simple for tinkerers and tweakers to play around in the underlying OS! This also goes towards stability, since this is CentOS. You know, the one that like 20% of websites run on? Enough said.

So, lets talk about the UI! The above screenshot shows the main page, which shows you a general overview of the current state of the system. You get all the basics – CPU, memory, network, disk utilisation and disk space usage. These are rolling graphs that show the realtime activity of each component – very useful to have if you are experiencing slowdowns!

Disk management:

Screenshot from 2016-07-05 20:06:13

Disk management is very simple. You can see your drives, their capacities, and plenty of other information such as SMART data. You can also configure the spin-down policies of the drives – I have mine set to an hour to save some power (at night time for instance).

Disk pools:

Screenshot from 2016-07-05 20:09:11

Here, you manage your drive pools. A pool is a storage space consisting of one or more drives. You can see the default rockstor installation on the SSD, and also the 8TB RAID5 array:

Screenshot from 2016-07-05 20:11:21

You can see the drives that belong to a pool, and you have access to other tools such as scrubbing and balancing (more on this in later posts).


Screenshot from 2016-07-05 20:37:55

This is where you manage your shares – basically subvolumes in the drive pools that you can separate out, assign to different users and assign different snapshot policies (more on this in later articles!).

There is a lot to cover in this OS, so I will have to spread the details out over a series of posts. I’ll see you in the next article!

2016 NAS: Power Consumption
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