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I have a spare PC and I would like to setup a NAS that is accessible from Windows and Linux. I would like to avoid using Windows as an OS and would like something like Ubuntu or FreeNAS. My only concern is I don't want to have to install special software on each client.

Is there a way to use Ubuntu or FreeNAS and have Windows machines access the files with installing a client on each Windows box?

UPDATE

Thanks for the answers. I wish I could choose more than one. I will give FreeNAS a try and see how it goes. Thanks!

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I recommend using FreeNAS, which provides support for CIFS protocol (SMB). CIFS is supported natively on Windows and Linux clients. You can also use Ubuntu, but remember that this is a general purpose distribution, so it may require more work in setting than FreeNAS.

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Both FreeNAS and Ubuntu support acting as a Samba server. Since Samba is what Windows uses for file-sharing, your Windows machines can access the remote shares using either UNC paths or mapped drives. No Client Needed (tm).

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Just use samba on the linux NAS. That's all you have to do.

This takes care of sharing the data with the windows boxes, who never have to know or care about the server file system, as this is one of the things abstracted away out of site when you access a server over a network.

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FreeNAS and OpenFiler are very similar in functionality... I've gone with FreeNAS for the support for 4KB block size on new larger SATA hard drives.

The cheaper "green" 5900RPM 2TB disks, and probably the emerging 3TB disks, will benefit from 4K block size support in a noticeable way, from what I've read. I haven't tested the potential performance hit for current OpenFiler versions.

The new FreeNAS 8 is a major rework including FreeBSD 8 and a Django-based management interface, but FreeNAS 7 is still pretty usable.

OpenFiler is probably better known, Linux-based, and equally functional for most purposes.

If you go with an appliance-style filer distribution, the FreeBSD vs Linux difference will probably not be noticeable to you, unless there are driver or other hardware support issues. So your best bet is to go with whatever you're most comfortable managing/supporting.

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