I am looking for an inexpensive NAS device that would be able to run a Linux distribution instead of the whatever standard software, so I can set up a simple http server and whatever I will need in the future.

My focus is on price, noise (I am looking for a solution without fans etc.) and low power consumption (I don't need a lot of processor power etc). Would anyone be able to recommend something?

  • What's your price range?
    – arathorn
    Aug 19, 2009 at 17:14

7 Answers 7


I recently bought a QNAP NAS that I'm happy with. They have a few fanless models (like my TS-119) and it runs some kind of Linux. I don't know exactly what it is, but I know you can install stuff to it through SSH.

It has all the basic stuff, like HTTP and FTP servers, a bittorrent client, MySQL and all kinds of stuff.

  • I own a QNAP TS-409 Pro. Fairly inexpensive in comparison to the rest of the market and runs on a custom Linux build. In terms of power, it's fairly efficient but it's hard to compare to other solutions in terms of power as other NASes can use more or less disks.
    – osij2is
    Aug 19, 2009 at 17:23

I own an nslu2 which fits the bill, except I'm not very happy with its performance. Lots of other people seem to be, so give it a go if you don't need a high performance NAS. It was one of the very first to come with a linux firmware, so there's a thriving linux community around it, and people have modified it to run varied things.

There are two main replacement firmware images available for the device: the first is Unslung which is based on the official Linksys firmware with some improvements and features added. Optware packages are available to expand functionality. The other is SlugOS/BE (formerly OpenSlug), which is based on the OpenEmbedded framework. SlugOS/BE allows users to re-flash the device with a minimal Linux system including an SSH server to allow remote access. Once installed, the operating system must be moved to an attached hard disk due to the lack of space available on the Flash memory. Once this has been done, a wide range of additional packages are available to be installed from an Internet repository.

It is also possible to run OpenWrt, Debian, Gentoo, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and Ubuntu on the device.

The ability to run an unrestricted operating system on the device opens up a whole new range of uses. Some common uses are a web server, mail server, DAAP server (iTunes), UPnP AV MediaServers, BitTorrent client, FreeSWITCH, asterisk PBX and network router (with the attachment of a USB network interface/USB modem).

I used to have it running with an Unslung firmware booting from a USB stick, but recently converted to running Debian off the attached USB hard drive.

The nslu2 makes no noise and draws minimal power.


For the maximum flexibility you're really looking at a PC. For small and silent you could build a nas around an atom based mini-itx board then you could install your preferred flavour of linux. Being lazy I'd go with ubuntu because of it's simplicity then install webmin so you can administer it over the network without having to have a keyboard and mouse attached.

  • It's probably not going to be the most power efficient option though, and setting up a fanless pc can be both tricky and expensive.
    – Grzenio
    Aug 19, 2009 at 16:35
  • I agree it's not the cheapest option and probably won't be fanless but I think it will be difficult to go completely fanless and still have a system you can install a full distribution on. You could go the route of the Via systems such as those available from mini-itx.com some of which are fanless and not too expensive.
    – Col
    Aug 21, 2009 at 8:59

The CH3SNAS is not expensive and runs linux. http://nas-tweaks.net/CH3SNAS

The device runs Debian: http://www.aroundmyroom.com/2009/03/23/ch3snas-debian-yes-its-possible-but-not-for-everyone/


You could build your own and install FreeNas on it:

FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC, iSCSI protocols, S.M.A.R.T., local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface. FreeNAS takes less than 32MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key. The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall.

Also, more information about hardware can be found here:


Update: I could also recommend you a Thecus 4100PRO like I also mentioned here. It runs a customized linux under the hood, and you can run a web server on it. I don't know if it will fit your "inexpensive" requirement though.

  • It's probably not going to be the most power efficient option though, and setting up a fanless pc can be both tricky and expensive.
    – Grzenio
    Aug 19, 2009 at 15:44

I was experimenting with the "SLUG" a while back, flashed it with Debian. No noise at all, a bit underpowered for my needs but certainly usable.

It seems discontinued though, maybe you can pick up one on ebay?

  • Damn, nagul beat me to it :-)
    – Ben
    Aug 19, 2009 at 9:33
  • You can certainly buy it on Amazon in both US & UK, but I agree that I find it underpowered for my needs. However, it makes an excellent NAS if you aren't very demanding, and have time to tinker with it.
    – user4358
    Aug 19, 2009 at 9:36

I haven't tried it yet, but Amahi seems to be an interesting Linux based "home server" software product based on Fedora. I've considered installing it on my Intel SS 4200.

  • Is it actually hardware?
    – Grzenio
    Aug 19, 2009 at 15:43
  • My wording was probably wrong. I've corrected the wording.
    – tronda
    Aug 20, 2009 at 6:35

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