OpenMediaVault – A few notes

Following on from my brief look at FreeNAS here, I thought I’d do a quick article on OpenMediaVault as well. While it isn’t quite as mature as FreeNAS, it is based on Debian. I’ve had a soft spot for Debian ever since I was able to get it running on a DECpc AXP 150 I had lying about many moons ago. The Jensen is no longer with us, but the fond memories remain. Anyway …

Firstly, you can download OpenMediaVault here. It’s recommended that you install it on a hard drive (ideally in a RAID 1 configuration) rather than on USB or SD cards. Theoretically you could put it on a stick and redirect the more frequently written stuff to a RAM disk if you really didn’t want to give up the SATA ports on your board. I decided to use an SSD I had laying about as I couldn’t be bothered with more workarounds and “tweaks”. You can follow this guide to setup some semi-automated backup of the configuration.

Secondly, here’s a list of the hardware I used for this build:

  • Mainboard – ASRock N3700-ITX
  • CPU – Intel Quad-Core Pentium Processor N3700 (on-board)
  • RAM – 2 * Kingston 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 SODIMM
  • HDDs – 1 * SSD, 8 * Seagate Constellation ES 2TB drives
  • SATA Controller PCIe x1 4-port SATA III controller (non-RAID), using a Marvell 88SE9215 chipset
  • IO Crest Mini PCIe 2-port SATA III controller (RAID capable), using a Syba (?) chipset
  • Case – Fractal Design Node 804
  • PSU – Silverstone Strider Essential 400W


You’ll notice the lack of ECC RAM, and the board is limited in SATA ports, hence the requirement for a single-lane, 4-port SATA card. I’m really not the best at choosing the right hardware for the job. The case is nice and roomy, but there’s no hot-swap for the disks. A better choice would have been a workstation-class board with support for ECC RAM, a decent CPU and a bunch of SATA ports in a micro-ATX form-factor. I mean, it works, but it could have been better. I’d like to think it’s because the market is a bit more limited in Australia, but it’s more because I’m not very good at this stuff.

Thirdly, if you do end up with the ASRock board, you’ll need to make a change to your grub configuration so that the board will boot headless. To do this, ssh or console onto the machine and edit /etc/default/grub. Uncomment GRUB_TERMINAL=console (by removing the #). You’ll then need to run update-grub and you should be right to boot the machine without a monitor connected.

Finally, the OMV experience has been pretty good thus far. None of these roll-your-own options are as pretty as their QNAP or Synology brethren from a UX perspective, but they do the job in a functional, if somewhat sparse fashion. That said, having been a QNAP user for a about 7 years now, I remember that it wasn’t always the eye candy that it is nowadays. Also of note, OMV has a pretty reasonable plugin ecosystem you can leverage, with Plex and a bunch of extras being fairly simple to install and configure. I’m looking forward to running this thing through its paces and posting the performance and useability results.