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HawkOne

New N54L setup questions

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HawkOne

To the HP Proliant Server experts and users on this forum: I could use some guidance as I have never used nor assembled a server before.

 

I purchased an N54L from Newegg many moons ago which came with no drive and 4gb memory and I'm finally getting around to putting it together. I purchased and installed:
16gb KVR1333D3E9SK2/16G memory
currently 2 Deskstar 4tb drives (I plan on adding a third as soon as I can find where I put it!)
250gb SSD (Samsung 860 EVO) for the OS

 

My plan is to use the NAS to store data backups (with other means for redundant backups of important data offsite via rotating external HDD), and to store and serve video for playback on several TVs I have in the house.  The TVs have Rokus or Amazon Fire TV boxes. I also have an HD Homerun dual that I plan to use to grab signal from OTA.

 

I am looking to install an OS that is inexpensive (or free) that will do a decent job of storing and serving my data and stream videos occasionally.  So my questions are:

 

1. Will this hardware perform well enough for my needs? That is, is the N54L still worth my time to configure?

2. What OS should I use?  I'd prefer to keep this cheap, so I think WHS is out unless the older versions are available somewhere inexpensively.  I've seen Freenas and Nas4free both mentioned.

3. Do I need to update/upgrade the bios? If so, what version is recommended?

4. What other software do I need to install?

5. Should I upgrade the NIC to the two gigabit card I have seen posted? Will the existing built in NIC be enough for now?

6. Do I need a video card? I've seen references to the Sapphire 5450 and 6450, and the wiki with the list of others suggested.

7. Are there any step-by-step guides (pdf, video) that I can follow?

8. Do I need to set up a RAID, and if so, how do I choose which one? I've never done anything with RAID before.

 

I appreciate any guidance you can give me so I can get this up and running soon.  I have watched many youtube videos and perused many of the posts here on the forum, but I can't seem to figure out the right direction to take.

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JackoUK

Initial thoughts.

1. My only doubt would be capability for 4K … but since this is your first server press on: any experience you obtain will stand you in good stead for future builds. You have several re-usable components if you decide to upgrade so nothing to lose.

2. All the mainstream OS's work with ...

4. … PLEX.

3. I only upgrade BIOS after a show-stopping failure. You may be paranoid 😉

5.  No. 1Gb is fine for video streaming.

6. A video card might solve the CPU power problem of 4K if the server is connected to the TV … but I don't know enough about the architecture of PLEX to say.

7. Yes. Maybe a visit to https://www.thedigitalmediazone.com/.

8. RAID testing should be your first job before you load up your final config. With 3 disks I'd go with 2 in RAID 1 plus your removeable disk as backup. The N54L only has USB 2.0 connections but it does have an eSata port for use with an disk docking station … or you can copy over the network to the backup machine with the removeable disk.

Have fun!

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HawkOne

@JackoUK Thank you for the informative reply.

 

I don't have any need for 4K at the moment, but that is a good thing to keep in mind. All of my TVs are several years old and don't support 4K.

 

I looked on the site you mentioned but didn't find anything specific to the N54L/N40L (etc) line, so I will keep reading here and watching youtube videos. I would be grateful for any definitive advice that someone could give on OS to satisfy my dual requirements of data server and media server.

 

Thanks for the info on doing backups. Looks like doing the backup over the network to a computer that has USB 3 ports will be the simplest to accomplish.

 

I'm still searching moving boxes for my third deskstar 4tb nas drive and hope to find it today.  I'll take a look at RAID 1. Can I start with 2 drives and then add a third? I've got a lot of reading to do about RAID, as you can tell.

 

I welcome other members to post their guidance too. Many thanks!

 

 

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JackoUK

The site is about video on PC … not a specific machine.

 

No such thing as a definitive OS: lots of suitable candidates.

Try FreeNAS … or whatever you are most comfortable with.

 

RAID 1 … goes up in pairs of drives … so on the N54L you would have to enable the 5th SATA port.

I'd leave that until later.

 

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HawkOne

I got my server up and running using freenas (latest version 11.1?) and installed the Plex plugin. I found a couple of useful videos on youtube that really helped with the details, but I wanted to say "thanks" to you @JackoUK for leading me down the path!

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schoondoggy

FreeNAS is a good choice. If you want to explore a bit I would recommend OMV, Open Media Vault, as well.

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borekon

Did you flash any custom BIOS? Are all the RAM recognised with the default BIOS?

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LVLouisCyphre

 

Quote

 

1. Will this hardware perform well enough for my needs? That is, is the N54L still worth my time to configure?

Yes, I picked up a pair of them used in excellent condition for a good price on eBay last month.  I'm burning them in for FreeNAS.

Quote

2. What OS should I use?  I'd prefer to keep this cheap, so I think WHS is out unless the older versions are available somewhere inexpensively.  I've seen Freenas and Nas4free both mentioned.

My choice is FreeBSD, FreeNAS or XigmaNAS (formerly NAS4Free).  FreeNAS and XigmaNAS are both based on FreeBSD.

Quote

3. Do I need to update/upgrade the bios? If so, what version is recommended?

You always run the latest BIOS.  There's an issue with the SATA ports with the stock BIOS which is why there's a hacked G7 BIOS.

Quote

4. What other software do I need to install?

Nothing I can think of that isn't a FreeBSD port or FreeNAS plugin.

Quote

5. Should I upgrade the NIC to the two gigabit card I have seen posted? Will the existing built in NIC be enough for now?

The only bad thing about the G7s is they use the brain damaged BCM5723 ethernet chip that doesn't support jumbo frames.  Unless you absolutely need wire speed networking, it should work.  If you're doing wireless to your NAS then it's most likely a moot point.

Quote

6. Do I need a video card? I've seen references to the Sapphire 5450 and 6450, and the wiki with the list of others suggested.

Doubtful if you're using it primarily as a NAS.  I would use the other PCIe slot for another SATA HBA if you need future storage expansion.  I have the HP IPMI card in the other slot. 

Quote

7. Are there any step-by-step guides (pdf, video) that I can follow?

Yes; on the FreeNAS forum.  Uncle Fester's How-To FreeNAS guide is a very good starting point on burning in your FreeNAS.

Quote

8. Do I need to set up a RAID, and if so, how do I choose which one? I've never done anything with RAID before.

The FreeNAS forum and Uncle Fester's How-To FreeNAS guide are excellent resources.  If you're running FreeNAS then you pretty much have to run a RAID as that's what it's specifically designed to do.  Storage is ZFS only.  The current school of though is to run RAIDZ2 which is ZFS RAID6.  You can have two drives fail in the array.  The only reason to run RAID5, IMO, is if you absolutely need the capacity over the fault tolerance with RAID6 or if you're stuck with a three drive array.  With RAID5 you can only have a single drive failure before you lose the array. 

 

The other thing I strongly suggest put it on a UPS and use strictly ECC memory and max out the memory which you've already done.  FreeNAS includes NUT (Network UPS Tools).  Most UPSes are supported.  You boot from a 16 GB USB drive and preferably have them mirrored.  FreeNAS doesn't require a large boot drive.

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