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QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS

Posted by cotarelo 
QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 28, 2020 02:37PM
Hello!

I have a Netgear Stora still alive. This box a Marvell 88F6281 (1 GHz) with: 256 MiB Flash, 128 MB Ram, one USB 2.0 and 1 GbE and 2 sata ports, it's a NAS from 2010 that runs Linux 2.6.22.18-Netgear Axentra HipServ OS.

Now it's where it gets interesting...

The company Netgear is dropping the support and while the NAS will still work, they drop part of the functionality like remote access, plus if you reset the device you will not be able to initialize it again (and it happened to me by pressing the power button too long by accident). Also, the management web interface is based on adobe flash that is kind of deprecated too.

I just found a post in this forum to flash via u-boot and overwrite the custom Linux distribution installed on the NAS and install a minimal Debian stretch with Open Media Vault 4. I was wondering if to use your tutorial to install Debian Stretch and OpenMediaVault which seems appealing as I could use more functionality if I need to (cloud syncing, perhaps add an USB wifi adapter...)

I am a bit worried that
  • I will brick the box during the process
  • I am unsure if some of the features that I currently have like time machine or windows file history backups will work
  • I would lose performance or OS funcionalities like scheduled wakeup / sleep of hard drives, fan control, led indicators...
  • The hardware will fail anyway since it's 10 year old NAS even when I was not using it a lot.

I would like for advice before I get hands on ... what is the recomendation

Thank you in advance
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 28, 2020 04:27PM
If it works, don't mess with it. If it doesn't work, congratulations! You got a new toy to play with!
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 28, 2020 04:52PM
cotarelo,

Like David said, if it is currently working well, if you are risk averse then continue using it that way.

If you want to take this opportunity to learn and willing to get you hands dirty then install new u-boot and Debian. It will take a while to install all the packages that provide the same userspace functionalities that you have with stock OS. In some cases, you will need to do research to find out how.


The Debian rootfs I provide in this forum is a bare bone system. Practically it is the same as if you create it using debootstrap (Debian way to create a rootfs from scratch).

Quote
https://forum.doozan.com/read.php?2,12096

The released tarball Debian-x.xx.x-kirkwood-tld-xx-rootfs-bodhi.tar.bz2 is a basic armel rootfs (a complete Debian system with kernel already installed) for Kirkwood boxes ready to be used. It is a basic system where you can build upon by installing packages. This rootfs was created by Debian debootstrap and then a few packages were installed for user’s convenience. This rootfs is dedicated for the purpose of upgrading and release distribution.

The bottom line is that you will need to spend a lot of time to get this system back to the same functionalities that you are used to. It is a vehice for learning Linux for beginner users. And a base system without bloat for advance users.

-bodhi
===========================
Forum Wiki
bodhi's corner
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 28, 2020 05:19PM
Thank you for the responses!

Do you know if things like a scheduled wakeup or sleep of hard drives when unused, fan control based on temperature and the green led indicators for hard drive activity and red for hard drive failure will be a difficult thing to set up?

I like the idea of a minimal system and I used to be a Linux sysadmin. However I just don't know how different will be to set up packages / turn on leds and fans be compared to a i386 machine with a regular bios.

-cotarelo
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 28, 2020 08:02PM
cotarelo,

> Do you know if things like a scheduled wakeup or
> sleep of hard drives when unused, fan control
> based on temperature and the green led indicators
> for hard drive activity and red for hard drive
> failure will be a difficult thing to set up?

Not at all. The Stora is well documented in this forum. LED controls is easiest to do. Hard disk sleep also quite easy. Scheduled wakeup can be done with rtcwake.

About fan control, I'm not sure I can recall how well it can be controlled. There are quite a few Stora threads in this forum that you can search.

But as with all boxes like this, you might get to something nobody has tried that before (eg. rtcwake is something I don't recall the Stora has been tested).


> I like the idea of a minimal system and I used to
> be a Linux sysadmin.

Then you'll have no difficulty in setting up the system.

> However I just don't know how
> different will be to set up packages / turn on
> leds and fans be compared to a i386 machine with a
> regular bios.

ARM boxes such as this Stora use u-boot for boot loader. And we have full control with the new u-boot. We also have full control with kernel and usespace. If the box is capable of something, it can be done.

=================

If you want to proceed with installing new system, then do both installation in one session at Linux shell while logging in stock OS.

1. Debian rootfs installation:
https://forum.doozan.com/read.php?2,12096

2. U-Boot installation:
https://forum.doozan.com/read.php?3,12381

And make sure you back up the MTDs partition as recommended in the u-boot installation instruction. All you need to go back to stock is to restore mtd0 in your box, and it will boot back to your current system as if nothing has changed.

-bodhi
===========================
Forum Wiki
bodhi's corner
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 29, 2020 04:55AM
Thank you bodhi,

I have last question... for the bonus! :)

Is possible to start the new system (u-boot and debian) from a live-usb? In this way I could try if the system would work the way is expected. If it's not possible to do it live...

I know it is probably wiser to stay in the current system as you mentioned before, but the idea of having an updated OS and more capable system is very very appealing for a geek like me.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/2020 02:04PM by cotarelo.
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 29, 2020 04:32PM
cotarelo,

> Is possible to start the new system (u-boot and
> debian) from a live-usb? In this way I could try
> if the system would work the way is expected.

No, not with the ARM boxes. With x86 BIOS and Mac EFI, it's easy to have a Live CD/USB that boost the box. ARM SoCs have too many different BootROMs.

But there is a different way to do just that: UART booting (load the new u-boot using serial console, and then boot the new Debian rootfs in the same session).


> I know it is probably wiser to stay in the current
> system as you mentioned before, but the idea of
> having an updated OS and more capable system is
> very very appealing for a geek like me.

With this Stora box we have these cacapiclities that make recovery easy: UART booting to rescue a software bricked, and new u-boot, latest Debian rootfs.

The stock system is stored in NAND flash in several MTD partitions, so you would need to back up them, before modding. When and if you want to restore the system to the way it was, you would restore mtd0 partition (the new u-boot installation only modify mtd0 where u-boot is, the other mtds are untouched).

Example of UART booting:

https://forum.doozan.com/read.php?3,51739,51919#msg-51919

-bodhi
===========================
Forum Wiki
bodhi's corner
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 30, 2020 09:57AM
Here is an old saying: If it ain't broken, don't fix it..

I believe you can make it a dual boot, i.e. boot external OS on an external storage. In this case, you probably need to update the uboot if the original uboot doesn't support a boot from an external device, i.e. USB storage, etc. This is what I have been doing with all my Seagate Dockstar, GoFLEX Home/Net devices. They all boot off of an external storage, i.e. SATA HDD and/or USB memory stick. If no external storage found, the system will boot off of the stock firmware stored in its internal storage.
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 30, 2020 11:01AM
Although anything requiring re-flashing the NAND should not be taken lightly....

You're definition of "ain't broken" may require some additional consideration in some cases. Part of what got me into running mainline linux on consumer NAS devices was serious un-patched security vulnerabilities often found in old versions of samba/bash/ftpd/etc on these devices. It might be worth figuring out what underlying vulnerabilities might exist as part of your analysis.
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 30, 2020 04:35PM
Quote

You're definition of "ain't broken" may require some additional consideration in some cases. Part of what got me into running mainline linux on consumer NAS devices was serious un-patched security vulnerabilities often found in old versions of samba/bash/ftpd/etc on these devices. It might be worth figuring out what underlying vulnerabilities might exist as part of your analysis.

+1

I consider stock FW on these old boxes are hopelessly broken for the above reason. Even for high end boxes such as Synology, the security updates don't come soon or often enough.

-bodhi
===========================
Forum Wiki
bodhi's corner
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
April 30, 2020 06:53PM
FYI - note that for OMV 4 you need to use Debian 9 (Stretch) and not Debian 10 (buster).

I had issues with OMV 5 and Debian 10 on my GoFlexNet which also has 128Mb of memory.
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
May 01, 2020 01:19PM
habibie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here is an old saying: If it ain't broken,
> don't fix it.
.
>
> I believe you can make it a dual boot, i.e. boot
> external OS on an external storage. In this case,
> you probably need to update the uboot if the
> original uboot doesn't support a boot from an
> external device, i.e. USB storage, etc. This is
> what I have been doing with all my Seagate
> Dockstar, GoFLEX Home/Net devices. They all boot
> off of an external storage, i.e. SATA HDD and/or
> USB memory stick. If no external storage found,
> the system will boot off of the stock firmware
> stored in its internal storage.

Awesome! If this is true for netgear Store I would go for this approach; at least until I decide which stays. Could you provide me with the link with the procedure? I am not sure if I can have the disk RAID with the data shared with both OS (stock and custom) but at least I could feel the flavor of the new OS

1000001101000 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Although anything requiring re-flashing the NAND
> should not be taken lightly....
>
> You're definition of "ain't broken" may require
> some additional consideration in some cases. Part
> of what got me into running mainline linux on
> consumer NAS devices was serious un-patched
> security vulnerabilities often found in old
> versions of samba/bash/ftpd/etc on these devices.
> It might be worth figuring out what underlying
> vulnerabilities might exist as part of your
> analysis.

You are totally right, however, since this is in the home network not exposed to internet. If someone has already broken in, chances are that he'll gain access too. However, I think that Samba/Bash/NFS and even the RAID management of disk for linux has improved for sure in the latest 10 years.
Re: QUESTION: Would you flash your working NAS
May 01, 2020 05:25PM
cotarelo

Quote

> habibie Wrote:
> -------------------------------------------------------
> > Here is an old saying: If it ain't broken,
> > don't fix it.
.
> >
> > I believe you can make it a dual boot, i.e.
> boot
> > external OS on an external storage. In this
> case,
> > you probably need to update the uboot if the
> > original uboot doesn't support a boot from an
> > external device, i.e. USB storage, etc. This is
> > what I have been doing with all my Seagate
> > Dockstar, GoFLEX Home/Net devices. They all
> boot
> > off of an external storage, i.e. SATA HDD
> and/or
> > USB memory stick. If no external storage found,
> > the system will boot off of the stock firmware
> > stored in its internal storage.
>
> Awesome! If this is true for netgear Store I would
> go for this approach; at least until I decide
> which stays. Could you provide me with the link
> with the procedure? I am not sure if I can have
> the disk RAID with the data shared with both OS
> (stock and custom) but at least I could feel the
> flavor of the new OS

What habibie said above is only true for a few older Kirkwood boxes. Netgear Stora is not one of them.

Once you've installed the new u-boot to NAND on this Stora box, you cannot boot to stock.

It might be possible, but I have not considered doing that setup, since nobody requested it, and everybody just moved on to running the latest Debian on disk drive.

-bodhi
===========================
Forum Wiki
bodhi's corner
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