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My New Drobo with DroboShare

posted Apr 6, 2010, 6:29 PM by Tom Gutwin   [ updated Nov 12, 2011, 7:05 PM ]
I went out and picked up a DataRobotics Drobo and its NAS attachment called DroboShare.

I have a home built Linux based MythTV DVR  (built many years ago >4) and with that comes tonnes of files and data... all my TV recordings, videos,  digital pictures and all my Ogg Vorbis audio files. I needed a safer storage model for its data.  My DVR has become a central shared network repository for all our household media.

All the data used to live inside my DVR and I would throw in a new drive when needed. This made me nervous.  I would backup my music and digital pictures, however, the video files were way to much to do.

I needed a NAS with built in RAID.
This thing provides RAID type redundancy without the administrative issues. read about it at DataRobotics.
     NOTE:  the day I bought mine, they came out with this NAS all in one package called Drobo FS.

Here is how I set mine up.
I did it in 2 stages because the Linux version of the Drobo Dashboard does NOT work through the DroboShare.
 - 1st directly connected via USB, 
 - then through the DroboShare

Initial Setup and Formatting
  1. Install the SATA Drives
  2. WITHOUT the DroboShare I connect directly to my Linux box via USB
  3. Use the Linux dashboard and commandline tools (http://drobo-utils.sourceforge.net) to format the Volume and get it setup.
  4. I called the share that got created "media" and formatted it as a 2GB ext3 volume.
  5. mounted it
  6. Test it out


Network Sharing (NAS via DroboShare)
I went out and bought a Cisco/Linksys gigabit Ethernet switch and Cat6 cables to maximize the throughput to the Drobo; mainly between the DVR, Drobo and my Workstation.

Before I connected it using the DroboShare I set up a static IP for the DroboShare MAC address so It will always have a specific IP address (10.0.0.201).  That way I can add this IP address to all my computers fstabs.
  1. Connect Cat6 Cabling between DVR, Workstation, Drobo and gigabit switch.
  2. Put the Drobo (currently USB connected) into standby so I can Unplug it
  3. Unplug it 
  4. Connect it to the DroboShare via its USB.
  5. Connect the DroboShare to the network via the gigabit switch.
  6. Connect the power cables to the Drobo and DroboShare.
  7. Wait for it to start up.
  8. Mount it using CIFS. Here is the line in my fstab
    •  //10.0.0.201/media  /mnt/droboShare/media   cifs rw,user,username=tgutwin,password=mySecretPassword  0 0
  9. start copying files!
Important Speed Note... 
Make one small change to your Ethernet packet size to make the maximum packet size bigger.
    ifconfig eth0 mtu 9000
Its a Jumbo Frame, and really helps with transfering large amount of data.

This little droboShare is actually a Linux based appliance that you can ssh into and get a commandline!
Take a look at the DARFS docs at http://drobo-utils.sourceforge.net if you want to extend the usefulness of the Embedded BusyBox OS.

You can also install web server, ftpd, iTunes server or other DroboApps.


Speed Performance
I did some speed tests to see if It will provide a good platform to stream video around my network computers.
The bottelneck seems to be the USB connection, but it is still good enough to stream HD video! Its a trade-off for simplicity.
They have now eliminated this bottleneck with their  Drobo FS without the usb.
  • I get around 12MBps writing a 8GB file to the drive.
  • Transfering the same file between my DVR and my workstation (to check my network speed) I get over 50MBps. 

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