D-Link DNS-323 with Alt-F

After a fatal crash of one of my hard disks in my mirror’d NAS System, I planned to replace it with something else. I was not very happy with D-Link’s configuration of the RAID mirror: after removing one of the hard disks and re-inserting it, the whole mirror was re-formatted and all data gone. Testdisk helped me to recover all data, but it was clear that I would not use the D-Link NAS in the future again.

After some searching, I found Alt-F which is an alternative firmware for the aging NAS system. It offers much more features than the original D-Link firmware but is only available as a release candidate (as of May 2013). I’m going to give it a try, the worst case is that I have to use testdisk again to recover all my data. This article describes the setup of my DNS-323 NAS with Alt-F.
I’m using the following hardware configuration:

  • D-Link DNS-323 Hardware Revision TBC
  • Two 3 TB TBC SATAIII hard disks

The goal of this article is to install the following items on the NAS:

  • The Alt-F firmware itself
  • MediaTomb for sharing my music collection with my AV-Receiver
  • BackupPC for using the NAS as the central backup server in the house
  • Gallery for managing pictures
  • Several disk tools, such as gptfdisk, iscsitarget
  • Several interpreters, such as perl, PHP
  • Miscellanguelos tools such as Midnight Commander, Parity Archive Volume Set
  • Several CLI tools, such as bash, everything to compile programs on the NAS itself
  • Several networking tools, such as OpenSSH, ownCloud

This article will cover the installation of the Alt-F firmware and additional packages which are directly supported by the software. Subsequent articles will cover the installation of  BackupPC and Gallery:

  • Installing BackupPC on D-Link DNS-323 with Alt-F
  • Installing Gallery on D-Link DNS-323 with Alt-F

Installing the Firmware

The Alt-F firmware includes the following features out of the box (I’m only listing those which are important for my purpose):

  • at – Schedule jobs for execution in the future
  • nfs-utils – The NFS Linux kernel server
  • inadyn – Dynamic DNS client for dyndns.org, freedns.afraid.org, zoneedit.com, and no-ip.com
  • rsync – File transfer program to keep remote files in sync
  • samba – Provides print and file services to all manner of SMB/CIFS clients including MS-Windows operating systems

A complete list of software built into the firmware can be found here.

Installation of the firmware is quite simple if you want to replace the stock firmware with the alternative firmware: just upload a new firmware in D-Link’s web interface. It will replace the stock firmware as a regular update.

There is an option to install Alt-F along with the stock firmware, too.

Installation of Hard Disks

I have not tried to “upgrade” an existing NAS system with Alt-F. Instead, I have built one from scratch with brand-new hard disks. Alt-F provides a wizard for the disk configuration which supports either RAID-0 (for disk spanning) or RAID-1 (for disk mirroring) among other options. The firmware even supports RAID-5 with another hard disk on the USB port.

Installation of Additional Packages

Once the hard disks are installed and configured using the wizard, it is easy to install the packages using the integrated package manager.

Other packages, such as BackupPC will be covered in subsequent articles as they require compiling of packages.

4 thoughts on “D-Link DNS-323 with Alt-F

  1. Just a quick correction: We tend to say “RAID-0” but since this method does not provide any redundancy at all, it is NOT -really- a RAID configuration. Nevertheless, even when we call it as such, we should NEVER refer to it as “disk spanning” because it is not. The best way to describe a “RAID-0” configuration is “disk striping”. (please observe there is one “p” in striping, two makes the meaning, well, … quite different.)

    • Hi Felix,

      I don’t know – I got rid of the D-link hardware after another failure where the system formatted my disks…

      I’ve setup a Cubietruck ARM system on my own with a modded case to have eSATA support.

      -Mike

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