Linux : sheevaplug as a perfect NAS – Reloaded

Since more than 2 years now, I’m using a Sheevaplug as a low power NAS (see this article). Until now, I was using a Debian 6 “squeeze”, with an old 2.6 kernel.

I had some trouble with Samba, like crash with high usage on small files (eg. Kodi’s library update). In addition, after 2 years of Debian, I was still not convinced and I wanted to use my favorite distro : Archlinux.

I’m using the same “NAS softwares”, but a little bit more tuned…

Base install

At the time I dit the whole install (October, 12), following the official Archlinux Arm install doc was not working.

SDCard install

On a SDCard, I created a small FAT partition (128 Mb), and another ext4 partition with the remaining space. As always, I optimized the SDCard (see this article). and formated the ext4 partition with (SDCard as /dev/sdb):

mkfs.ext4 -O '^has_journal' -E stride=2,stripe-width=1024 -b 2048 /dev/sdb2

Then I deployed Archlinux base system on the SDCard (from my Laptop):

cd /tmp
mkdir root
mkdir root/boot
mount /dev/sdb2 root
mount /dev/sdb1 root/boot
bsdtar -xpf /home/juju/Downloads/ArchLinuxARM-kirkwood-latest.tar.gz -C root
umount root/boot
umount root

After that, booting required to use the serial connection (usb cable) to set some uboot variables. I plugged the cable to my laptop and switched on the Sheevaplug. Then I used GNU Screen to connect to the Sheevaplug. I had to do this very quickly in order to interrupt the boot process by pressing <enter> as soon as the Sheevaplug booted:

screen 115200 8n1
setenv bootcmd 'setenv bootargs $(bootargs_console) root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootdelay=5; run bootcmd_mmc; bootm 0x00800000'
setenv bootcmd_mmc 'mmc init; mmc init; ext2load mmc 0:1 0x00800000 /uImage;'

System configuration

Setup the base system

First actions I did :

  • change the hostname (/etc/hostname)
  • create a new user
  • delete the default “alarm” user (userdel alarm then rm -R /home/alarm)
  • change root password
  • change /etc/systemd/journald.conf to lesser SDCard write : SyncIntervalSec=10m
  • custom mount options in /etc/fstab for root filesystem :
/dev/mmcblk0p2  /  ext4 defaults,async,barrier=0,commit=100,noatime,nodiratime,errors=remount-ro  0 1

Install Yaourt and prepare for AUR

I set optimized CCFLAGS and CXXFLAGS in /etc/makepkg.conf and added the following parameters to the default ones (see and :

-mtune=xscale -fweb -frename-registers -fomit-frame-pointer

Then, I installed yaourt by

  • installing base-devel : pacman -S base-devel
  • adding my user to /etc/suders (yaourt refuse to run as root, for safety reasons)
  • adding archlinuxfr repo to /etc/pacman.conf : Server =

At this point, I had to manualy install package-query for arm as yaourt depends on it, but package-query does not exists as compiled package for arm devices

git clone
cd package-query
makepkg -Acs
sudo pacman -U package-query-1.7-1-arm.pkg.tar.xz
sudo pacman -S yaourt

System tools

Cronie for cron ( :

yaourt -S cronie
timedatectl set-timezone Europe/Paris

I changed /etc/anacrontab to make cronjobs execution during the night :


Then I installed hdparm and a systemd rc.local implementation to easily put some customisations at boot.

yaourt -S hdparm rc.local
sudo systemctl enable rc-local

/etc/rc.local with customization :

# deadlines cheduler could group small accesses to lesser sdcard latency
echo deadline &gt; /sys/block/mmcblk0/queue/scheduler
echo deadline &gt; /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler
echo deadline &gt; /sys/block/sdb/queue/scheduler
# NAS Disks setting
# set hd standby
# 50 sec for mirror disk
hdparm -S 10 /dev/sdb &amp;
# 24 min for data disk
hdparm -S 255 /dev/sda &amp;
# optimize disk readahead buffer / noise option
/usr/bin/hdparm -a 1024 /dev/sda
/usr/bin/hdparm -a 1024 /dev/sdb
/usr/bin/hdparm -M 254 /dev/sda
/usr/bin/hdparm -M 254 /dev/sdb
# eth0 optimize
/usr/bin/ifconfig eth0 txqueuelen 5000

Finaly :

NAS Softwares

Samba and network optimizations

As always the Archlinux wiki was a very good start point. The important steps are :

  • setting “hosts allow” to restrict accesses
  • set “encrypt passwords = yes”
  • set “security = user”
  • create users according to systems accounts with “smbpasswd -a <login>”

I found 2 great articles about network optimizations: (similar to Sheevaplug, but a little less powerfull)

I ended up with the following customizations with which I currently have 18.6 Mb/s when reading and 17.8 Mb/s when writting.

/etc/sysctl.d/10-iptuning.conf :

net.core.rmem_max = 5603328 # 0,75 of wmem_max rounded to 4096
net.core.wmem_max = 4194304 # set tcp mem to 4M max (default = 16k)
net.ipv4.tcp_rmem = 4096 87380 5603328
net.ipv4.tcp_wmem = 4096 16384 4194304
net.ipv4.tcp_timestamps = 0 # less CPU usage on small arm soc
net.core.optmem_max = 65535
net.core.netdev_max_backlog = 5000

/etc/samba/smb.conf (network settings only) :

strict allocate = Yes
read raw = yes
write raw = yes
strict locking = No
min receivefile size = 4096
use sendfile = true
aio read size = 4096
aio write size = 4096
oplocks = yes
max xmit = 65535
max connections = 16
deadtime = 15
getwd cache = yes

Regain : a search engine

Regain is a nice and simple search engine, initialy made for desktop search. It is composed of a crawler and a web interface for searching… So it can also be used as a server search engine.

It requires java (6 or 7) and tomcat6 to run. Installation guide can be found in Regain manual. I installed it in /opt/regain and made symlink for the webapp to be found by tomcat (in /var/lib/tomcat6/webapps)

I also installed pdfbox to better index pdf files. I had to change the source url in the PKGBUILD (yaourt -S pdfbox) because the default site was too slow (see for mirrors)

I activated the use of PDFBox by uncommenting the dedicated “preparator” in /var/lib/tomcat6/conf/regain/SearchConfiguration.xml.

With tomcat6 started at this point, regain just displayed a message saying that there was no index. Building one needed to launch the indexer :

cd /opt/regain/runtime/crawler
java -Xms128m -Xmx128m -jar regain-crawler.jar

It can take a lot of time depending on the number of files to index…

With an index, the web interface allowed to search and see some “google like” results. But clicking on a result did nothing !… Regain is a desktop search engine, so it generates links like “file:///” which simply can’t work from a workstation.

Chance is, regain allows to change links prefixes. With Windows workstations, links like “\\server\share” should work, but I only have Linux and Mac OS X clients. So the only “universal” prefix that could be recognized by any browser was… the (not so) good plain old ftp protocol (ftp://server/). This protocol is clearly not secure and FTPS or SFTP don’t work with all browsers. So I choosed to use a simple FTP connection for search result consultations. It’s not secure, but I only use the search from time to time, so un-encrypted passwords are only passing my network very few times.

Main options of my vsftpd :

  • local users only
  • limit to true users
  • set home of all users to /home (for chroot)
  • CHROOT users

Then in /var/lib/tomcat6/conf/regain/SearchConfiguration.xml, I added the following rewrite rules for all results :

  &lt;rule prefix="file:///myShares" replacement="ftp://myServer.address"/&gt;

I could have used tomcat to securely access files in https by activating directory listing, but it would have meant

  • to give tomcat user right to access all files – not that secure
  • to duplicate system accounts for access restriction – not really nice
  • to chroot tomcat user to where NAS sources are – not sure it could work correctly
  • to set a signed certificate – hmm… that’s just a home network 😉

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