For almost 8 years I’ve been running a home server, primarily used for data storage and managing downloads. Originally starting on a wall mounted laptop with external drives, later I repurposed my old desktop as a more proper build. My choice of OS were good old Ubuntu LTS builds with programs being installed through snaps and docker images. When migrating from the laptop to a desktop I wanted to go with TrueNAS Core but FreeBSD did not support my motherboard’s ethernet adapter, quickly making me fall back to good old Ubuntu. To say the set up was janky would be an understatement and the configuration had some issues but nothing a quick TTY session couldn’t fix.
Last month I discovered TrueNAS had recently released a new version based on Debian Linux. Tired of the jank and given I had no hardware issues with Ubuntu, also a Debian based Linux distro, I decided to give TrueNAS Scale a try. First in a virtual setup complete with emulating drive failures, then once I was sure it could do everything I needed it to on the actual hardware.
System Specs, setup and configuration
|CPU||Intel i5-4590 @ 3.30GHz|
|MOBO||MSI Z97 Gaming 5|
|GPU||Intel HD graphics 4600|
|RAM||2x8GB DDR3 @ 1800MHz|
|Storage||1x 256GB Patriot SSD (OS)|
2x WD 4TB RED HDD (Mirrored)
The setup was pretty typical. Burn the ISO to a flash drive, install the OS and launch the web-ui at the provided IP address. I already had a DHCP rule on my router to always provide the same IP to my server. Once inside the web-ui it was a simple matter of adding a storage pool, datasets, configuring SMB and adding my preferred applications.
Storage pool and datasets
I enjoy theming my builds, and where previously I went with Slave Pen, complete with bondage ASCII-art for terminal sessions, this time I went with the MAGI System from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The storage pools are named after the 3 systems inside MAGI: Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior. Each of these datasets serve a different purpose and were separated for peace of mind. I configured SMB access to all tied to my user account and only turn SMB access on when I actually need to access any dataset directly from another machine.
Aside from the better NAS functionality and easily mirroring my data, applications played a huge part in why I migrated to TrueNAS Scale. Most of these can be installed with a few clicks and configured to use specific datasets at specific mounting points. This meant I could more easily tie applications together, something which always annoyed the shit out of me with my previous setup of docker containers and snaps. One thing I really enjoy is TrueCharts, a third party repo which adds a lot of additional applications.
Heimdall is an user configurable dashboard or “launcher” for web applications. Previously I would keep bookmarks of all the different web-ui addresses or flat out memorise port numbers.
Another huge win to me is how Heimdall supports multiple accounts. This allowed me to set up a second/default account for my parents without any of the administrative or private items listed.
Sonarr, Radarr and Prowlarr
This trio is part of the Servarr family of software dedicated to maintaining and organising your media library, while also automatically downloading new or missing content. Sonarr handles TV series and anime with Radarr handling movies. Prowlarr is an optional addition to keep track of your download sources shared across all applications of the Servarr family. While you can configure these directly in both Sonarr and Radarr, by doing so through Prowlarr you only have to do so once.
All of these share the same dataset dedicated to just my media library. One more addition I made was to set up Discord webhooks. This means whenever an episode or movies has been grabbed a message will be send to a channel on my private Discord server. Unfortunately for me I will never see these messages as unlike having these programs installed, piracy is illegal and bad.
Plex probably doesn’t any explanation, so in short it’s a media player which can stream your own files to any device connected to your network or the internet. I found the TrueCharts version to play along better with Sonarr and Radarr when compared to the official version, but your mileage may vary.
qBittorrent, Transmission, Deluge, these are all torrent clients and each works fine. I simply went qBittorrent this time around for the nicer Web-UI compared to Transmission.
Lanraragi is self-hosted a comic book, manga and doujin reader and organiser. It keeps track of your read history, supports content tags and can import content from specific websites. While I find the Tachiyomi Android app to be superior for manga and comics, nothing comes close to Lanraragi for doujins and art books. I have a separate dataset in place for Lanrargi only.
meTube is a web-ui for the popular yt-dlp command line tool. It allows you to download videos from a huge list of websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and even adult sites. It can also handle file conversion to different video and audio formats.
Previously I used an OpenVPN server on my router, but having changed ISP’s my new ISP simply does not support hosting your own VPN servers. Luckily, TailScale exists! It’s is a free VPN server you can install on any computer machine, which may then be configured to be used as an endpoint. In my case I use it to connect my mobile phone to my home network when on mobile data. This allows me to access my server from anywhere in the world without opening my network up to the entire internet.
Finally, there is good old NextCloud, a self-hosted cloud storage solution. I use Nextcloud as part of my 3-2-1 backup solution, with it mirroring specific folders from my desktop PC to my server. I also have file history enabled so even if files get overwritten, I can still retrieve an older version. Believe it or not, this has saved my ass several times when working in Photoshop and InDesign. NextCloud also runs on its down dataset.
In overall, I am very pleased with migrating from a janky Ubuntu setup to TrueNAS Scale. The web-ui makes sense, offers a lot of advanced settings while still being user-friendly. I haven’t noticed any problems or stability issues and can definitely continue to see myself using it for years to come. Now, let’s order more drives because I am really missing that additional 4TB of space I used to have…