We had earlier seen how OwnCloud allows us to host an enterprise level cloud storage with advanced features on your own premises. It had its handicap though when tasked with multiple users editing the same file. To achieve this we need a NAS solution. For this we have the age old horse, FreeNas. In this article we will see how to setup a FreeNas Box and configure it for simple windows network sharing.
Installation of FreeNas
We will be using the ISO image of FreeNas 9.3 for the purpose of this article. You can download the ISO file from the following location.
ISO Format means that the software will be installed on your system. Once the media boots, you get a main screen followed by an Install screen.
Next comes the option of choosing the disk drive. Remember, you need atleast two disks, one for the installation of FreeNas and the other for NAS storage. Next the installation begins.
Successful installation gives the following.
At this time you need to remove the install media and reboot the system.
After rebooting, you can begin the configuration by using the following options.
Configuration of Network Interfaces.
First you need to reset the network configuration and then set if you want a DHCP or static IP.
We shall use the static IP 192.168.1.1 for your test environment. Once the IP address is set, the screen will look something like this.
If you can see the IP Address, the network interface is successful. Using the IP Address in your web browser, you can now use the web interface over the network to access the FreeNas settings and further configuration.
Configuration of FreeNas by Web Interface or Web GUI.
Shell access is available for FreeNas, but the Web GUI is so good, all configuration can be handled from there. Use the IP Address you just configured in the web browser of your choice and insert the root password at the prompt.
After inserting the root password, you get the Initial Wizard at the first start. First you set the time zone. Next you have to name the pool and the type of disk configuration you will need.
Next comes the Active Directory settings, which we have left blank.
After that we set up a simple share and let the wizard move forward.
After that comes the mail settings including the option to send a test mail and check whether everything is working fine.
After the confirmation prompt the Initial Wizard is ready to commit the changes.
FreeNas has really grown over the years and now has tons of options to tinker with. Take your own time to go through each and fine tune your setup to the level desired. Use the official guide for help whenever you get stuck up.
Creating a guest share for Windows
This is the simplest and best way to use an unsecure share on any NAS. At this point of time it is a good idea to create a share and use it to get a feel of how the thing works. For the first round we will create a guest share with no password. You can straightway create a share or use the wizard. To use the wizard, click on the wizard icon on top left.
Once you reach the share interface, give a name to the share. This is the name of the folder when it will appear in Windows Explorer. Make sure to tick the option Allow Guest as shown. Also remember to click the add button otherwise the share will not be created. After you finish, click on next till you reach the part to commit changes. After this wizard has completed its action, you will find a share created in storage and sharing as follows.
To check if things are fine, go to Windows Explorer on any PC on the network, under Network you will find a new share under FREENAS, by the name ‘guest_share_all’. This is the name of the share that we had given earlier in the wizard.
There are quite a few things that can go wrong at this point of time. Check for bugs and settings. Mostly mistakes are made in permission settings and activating certain modules.
Error type 1 when windows cannot access the share. This error is reported when the share is created by the wizard. You need to go the sharing advanced options and activate the module as shown in the picture and then everything should work fine. This problem does not come up when the share is created directly.
Error type 2 When you are not able to access the share folder. This is because of the incorrect permissions given to the share.
Go to storage and change permissions there.
Choose the group as guest and user as nobody. This should rectify the problem. You will now be able to edit the contents of the share folder and access it across the network.
To create a guest share without the wizard, just go to sharing and Windows(CIFS) and create a new share. Give the name and the path. Here you will see that the two modules are automatically picked up which were missed by the wizard.
Make sure you click on Allow Guest option and create the share. Check if the share is working fine in the windows explorer of any PC on the network.
So basically for creating a share manually you need to create the share and link it up with a corresponding storage.
Creating a share for a user(windows) in a non domain environment.
In this scenario, we have to assign a username and password to each user. If the share is to be accessed by multiple users we can club them in a same group. Use the wizard to start with and give a share name. Then click on ownership. Create a user by typing a name and tick the option of creating a new user. Create a new group in the same way. Do not forget to add else the share will not be created. Check in Windows Explorer to see if the share works correctly. Use the credentials provided to login for that user. With this method, a user can access the share from any PC on the network or domain.
Once the changes are committed, you may like to move to Windows Explorer and see the results.
For manual creation of shares for specific user again remember, first create the user and then create a share and storage for the same. Make sure its all linked up, like ownership and share settings.
FreeNas has tons of options for file sharing across various types of networks. Whenever one comes across a bug or a problem, make sure that you reach the forums or search Google for help.