Thursday, 17 April 2014

How to install FreeNAS on HP EX495 MediaSmart Server

Yay, I got it working! Is exactly what you should be saying by the end of this. Especially as you won't need a debug module or VGS adapter! (although they do help)

Updated on 27/04/14

The preface, if you're reading this you probably have an old MediaSmart Server laying around your house somewhere that you'd like to re purpose into a NAS box. If you don't already have a MediaSmart server you probably don't' want to bother with this guide. I wouldn't recommend buying one of these for this purpose unless you can get it cheap or just want to have a play. Especially as you can get  probably get a 4 bay QNAP box for a couple of hundred quid that has a warranty and stuff!

This is really great to do, I was happy to find it was incredibly simple to get this all up and running.

This probably works on the EX490 and earlier versions of the Media Smart server like the EX480 and EX485, but you need to test it. Also, standard clause, you are doing this at your own rick, I am not responsible for any damage to your devices. this is purely how i got it working. (you will use the use of one of your drive bays in this process, but you don't need a drive in it.)

This is a work in progress too as I'm sure there is a better way to have done this, but I haven't figured it out yet.
So, lets get to it.

What you will need

  • A HP Mediasmart Server
  • Another PC
  • A 3.5" SATA Hard Drive (you need something to store your files on right)
  • A USB Thumb drive (at least 1GB, but 2GB would be ideal)
  • A Blank CD and CD-RW or another USB Thumb Drive of at least 1GB (or a Zalman Virtual ODD))
  • Stick the kettle on as it may have boiled by the time you have finished this whole process. (ok, it's not that fast but it's bloody quick to be up and running, took me less than an hour without a guide)
  • Ideally a 4GB memory upgrade for ZFS (but you can always just choose a different File format on the NAS, I have only 2GB and use RAID 3).

Setp 1
Get the FreeNAS iso from

I'm using version 9 for this guide, so if you're reading this far in the future and a new version is out that you can't get working. Just use version Anyway, go grab the ISO. (for the EX495 feel free to take the 64-bit one

Step 2
Create a Bootable Disc or Bootable USB Drive from the ISO. I haven't written a guide on this part, but if you are unsure just click the links and you'll easily find a guide.

Step 3
Boot from the CD/USB

On your extra PC pop in your Bootable USB or CD you just created. Also put the spare USB drive you wish to install FreeNAS onto. You may need to hit a Function key on boot to get the boot device selection menu to choose the bootable device you created or change the BIOS settings to make this the bootable device. Either way, boot from it.

Step 4
Install FreeNAS on your OS HDD

This is really simple (to F-up in my case), The installation process is straightforward, just choose the USB drive that you want to install FreeNAS on and it will install for you easily. In my case I chose to install it on my main HDD in the PC wiping windows and all my files! yay, that was fun.

Step 5
Put your USB drive and HDD in your MediaSmart.

At this point you should have a Blank HDD (yeah it's a good idea to remove all partitions from this drive first) and a USB drive with FreeNAS installed on it.

Put the USB drive with FreeNAS on in the bottom USB port on the back of the MediaSmart. The HDD should go in the second from the bottom bay on the front. (Do not put anything in the bottom bay, if there is ever a drive in there, your USB drive will be ignored entirely).

Also, now is a good time to connect your ethernet cable to your router/switch.

Plug in the power.

Step 6
Turn it on,

If you need help here, I can't do that.

Step 7
Find it's IP on your Router/DHCP server.

After about 3-5 minutes the NAS will have booted and will have received an IP from your DHCP server (router). Log in to the we-interface of your router and look at the connected devices status. any devices connected to your router will be assigned an IP address. you need the one assigned to FreeNAS (if you can't find it, try all the assigned IP addresses for wired devices).

Step 8
Connect in your browser and set-up

whatever ip address you have for FreeNAS, just pop that in your browser and you should see the web interface for configuring your NAS. you'll need to set up a root user password and it's probably a good idea to assign a static IP at this point.

Voila, you now have a working FreeNAS box! You'll need to set up your drives and configure shares but there are plenty of other guides out there regarding FreeNAS.

Have fun, have you managed to do this yourself? How did it go?
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