NETGEAR ReadyNAS

I recently purchased a NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo for my small home network. Having made the experience that NETGEAR make very good hardware with not-so-good firmware and virtually nonexistent and useless documentation, I had done some prior research and had found out the ReadyNAS is essentially a debian Linux box. Since I also wanted to use the box as a print server, I had also looked for and found a hardware compatibility list that included my printer.

My expectations were met.

Excellent hardware, a robust case, simplest possible installation of two HDDs, all required cables included, nice environmentally friendly packaging. But.

The web configuration interface

is one thing: very, very, very pretty. That’s about it. My printer – for example – might be hardware compatible, but no, it seems not to be possible to share a printer with the ReadyNAS – judging by the web GUI…

Documentation

is accessible only through the above mentioned web configuration interface (wtf?). It would have definitely fit on the included resource CD. This way you basically need to figure out the hard part on your own – then you can read about what you just did when you find the documentation link in the web GUI.

Formatting

the disks was a task my box had to complete twice. Since the documentation is only accessible after the machine is up (needs web GUI), my disks were defaulted with an apparently random RAID configuration, this setup was then formatted and only then (after about an hour) could I access anything – just to redo it all. NETGEAR tried to make this part foolproof – and they probably managed to do so. I imagine an average Windows user could just open some kind of file manager and see the newly created network share. You better not care about how exactly it is set up. What I had to do was: perform factory reset, connect to the box during boot using NETGEAR’s utility RAIDar, and click a non-descriptive button there. Finally I was prompted with RAID options and the second setup process started as expected.

Now, the one thing the web-GUI is made and good for:

Creating shares.

Simple as could be, protocol settings and access restrictions nicely grouped, lots of protocols supported. Well done!

Printing

I didn’t want to give up yet. And since I was handling a Linux box, it just had to be possible to support printing. After I had found out that the IPP port (631) was open on the ReadyNAS, I concluded CUPS was running, but incorrectly configured – I could not add any printers through the CUPS web UI at http://my_nas:631.

After installing an SSH Add-On, I found out that only a few fragments of CUPS were installed, and that the version dated back to 2000.

To install CUPS I basically did:

apt-get install cups libcups2

## this produced failures due to package conflicts,
## so I had to manually install one or two failed
## packages with
dpkg -i –force-overwrite /var/cache/apt/archives/@@PACKAGE_NAME_HERE@@

## delete old init script links
## the new ones have different names
rm /etc/rc?.d/*cupsys

reboot

## enable access to the configuration interface
vi /etc/cups/cupsd.conf
cupsctl –remote-admin
/etc/init.d/cups restart

After that, I could configure my printer through the CUPS web UI. However, I found out that the printers.conf file was deleted after reboot. I fixed this by write protecting the file after configuration:
chattr +i /etc/cups/printers.conf

Summary

The NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo v2 is an excellent hardware product with half-baked software and great potential for power users.