March 20, 2011

New NAS for old

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:36 am by dgcombs

In between jobs and with my firewall log schlepper project on hold, my daughter came to me with what looked like a dead Time Capsule in her hands. Sure enough, it quietly went to sleep one day and didn’t wake back up. I checked over the basics: power cord, power plug, on-off switch (wait! it doesn’t have an on-off switch!). That was when I decided to open ‘er up. In retrospect, that may have been a bad decision.

The screws holding the case together are on the bottom which has a rubber (I will emphasize the fact that it is RUBBER) cover glued to metal. The glue isn’t all that sticky. But it holds well enough that if you aren’t very, very careful, you will rip part of the RUBBER.

I emplore you, if you try to open your time capsule… use a hair dryer as shown in step 3 to heat and loosen the glue. It’s a whole lot easier to peel off! After taking it apart, ripping the corner of the RUBBER cover off, I tested the power supply. Yep. Shot. As others have found, the capacitors have overheated and given up the ghost.


Now of course, you could decide to NOT be like me. You could check the Apple support web site and find that the warranty has been extended for your Time Capsule before you tear the bottom. So after carefully backing up all the data on the hard drive, I put it all back together. My grandson and I went down to the local PeachMac store. They were very nice. I explained the issue and the Apple extended warranty for my serial number to the tech. He then turned it over and stepped back. “Whoa! What happened here!?!” he said as he fingered the tear in the RUBBER cover. “It looks like someone dropped this!” As calmly as I could, I said, “I’m absolutely sure no on dropped it!” My grandson standing by was doing everything he could to keep from bursting out laughing. I knew the jig was up when he said, “Let me check with my manager.”

On the way home, Time Capsule in hand, my grandson said, “I told you to let me put the RUBBER cover back on! I knew this would never do.”

Stuck with a good hard drive, a bad power supply and a spare Intel Atom-330 Motherboard I was taken by an idea. Why not create a FreeNAS box? So I rummaged through my junk box and pulled together the components. I carefully (using a hair dryer this time) pried off the RUBBER cover of the Time Capsule. I found an old PNY 4Gb USB stick which I could use to boot the FreeNAS system and an extra 320Gb disk drive and a 60Gb one for good measure. Of course I opted for the latest FreeNAS version 8 Beta RC 3. I figured that after three attempts, it should be fairly feature complete. After all, version 8 is a complete rewrite using Python‘s Django for the web interface. It includes support for zfs. And Time Machine compatible backups have been in the code since version 7. What could go wrong?


Well, I’ll tell ya. For some reason, in the Release Candidate 3, the MulticastDNS features, also known as Bonjour by Apple, do not start. This is noted in a BUG report #185 on the FreeNAS support site. This defect, of course, keeps any Apple device from recognizing the FreeNAS box as a repository for data, you know like for iTunes or a Time Machine.

As a temporary work around, you can do the following:

Modify the file /usr/local/etc/rc.d/mdnsd by changing “NO” to “YES”

: ${mdnsd_enable=”YES”}

Execute the following command as ROOT

mDNSResponderPosix -b -n <name of your server>

This will get you started. But note that the embedded version (which this is) of FreeNAS will not retain your changes after a reboot. So after each reboot, you will have to do the same modifications. Voila! New NAS for old.

Now all I need to do is figure out what to do with that old diskless Time Capsule and its ripped RUBBER cover.


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