G4 NAS Drive part 1
Why hack a G4 into a NAS drive. First off, NAS means Network Attached Storage. It’s a big hard drive you can use from any of the computers on your network. After years of service, the G4 is nearing the end of it’s life. Apple raised the bar with Leopard dead-ending the earliest machines requiring 768Mhz and a modern GPU. With two exceptions (yikes and sawtooth) the G4 line has gigabit ethernet which gives you fast file transfers if you wired network supports this speed. Many commercial NAS products don’t have gigabit ethernet or charge a premium for the faster model.
An old G4 is essentially free.
Okay, I paid full price for it in 1999. And I bought a dozen or so more of them over the years. My last G4 was a Mirror Door that got donated to a kid and we skipped the Wind Tunnel because we’d moved on to PowerBooks in my company. But that’s another story. I’ve seen used G4 machines of all sizes and various states for free on Craigslist or on various mailing lists I’m on. If you have to pay for one, don’t pay lots because they are nearly a decade old. Because of the age and the cost this Mac it’s highly hackable.
Most of this era Mac will have seen lots of use making it very dusty inside. Be careful when cleaning. Removing dust can cause static which can zap chips. When taking things apart to clean them go slowly. Make sure you remove every screw. If you have to force something to move, it means you haven’t found all the screws. Clean the Mac with a household cleaning product like a blue window cleaner or 409. Don’t spray it directly on the inside of the case instead spray it on your paper towel. Be careful when using isopropyl alcohol to clean a case as diluted isopropyl alcohol can melt plastic. Use it with care.
Dust Off or compressed air can work magic. But it can also put dust every where. Don’t use it until you have clean a majority of dust out first. Static is always a concern. We’ve seen motherboards not work after being gunned with compressed air. When using Dust Off (or another source) use short bursts of air directed at concentrations of dust. Long blasts are wasteful. Use it outside or in your garage. We like to wait for the dust to settle before turning on a blasted Mac.
Choosing drive is a bit of hearsay and voodoo. Everyone has a preference which is based on the brand that has failed them the least. Personally, we don’t care so much about brand but other things such as warrantee and power consumption. You might want to consider cost per gigabyte for determining which size to buy. For the G4 NAS talked about in the show 500G drives were the best buy. Six months from now 1T drives will likely be the way to go.
Because of limitations on the PATA bus we need purchase and install an SATA card.work for this job. In Part 1 we choose a dumb as rocks PCI card that controlled two drives. More expensive cards have built-in RAID 0, 1, five but we don’t need that feature for this project. Plan to spend around $50.
After you’ve cleaned the case, installed drives, and controller its time to fire up the Mac. Format the drives using Disk Utility. Copy files to them, delete things giving them a good work out. Once you are certain things are working well go back to Disk Utility to format them as a RAID 1. Follow the steps here.
It has been pointed out to use that SoftRAID may be a better product then the RAID built-in OS X.
The Apple RAID software does zero monitoring.tell you the state of your disks like working, failed, about to fail, etc.. Two programs RAID Monitor and RAID Alert will monitor and report the status of your disks.
As my G4 NAS is sitting in the corner next to the phone system I use Chicken of the VNC to control it. You can use built-in Mac remote desktop screen sharing or a VNC Server to accomplish this. I use a VNC server because I wanted to change the default port for sharing. It makes my server just a little more secure.
If you aren’t using OS X Server, there isn’t much control over what is shared and to whom. Normal user permissions, frankly, allow too much access. Use Share Points or Shift Share to give you absolute control over who gets access to what.