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Open source NAS, offered as a device or bare PCB, runs Linux on MIPS

May 5, 2017 — by Rick Lehrbaum 9,981 views

The “GnuBee Personal Cloud 1” open-source NAS device, featuring dual GbE ports and up to six internal 2.5-inch SSDs and/or HDDs, has funded at Crowd Supply.

GnuBee designed its $168 “GnuBee Personal Cloud 1” (GB-PC1) NAS device to provide all the functionality of a commercial, proprietary NAS, “but at a much lower cost and with the transparency, reliability, and accessibility advantages that come with using FLOSS.” The GB-PC1 has just funded at Crowd Supply, and is expected to begin shipping by September.

Two views of the GnuBee GB-PC1
(click images to enlarge)

GnuBee’s Crowd Supply page notes that the GB-PC1 can be used for a variety of applications in addition to NAS. Examples listed include using the device as a file, media, download, or web server, or for the remote hosting of private cloud services.

The GB-PC1’s software and hardware are fully open source, according to GnuBee. Full schematics are available, and hardware hackers interested in rolling their own NAS devices can order a $50 GB-PC1 bare PCB that’s expected to ship in August.

GB-PC1 front and rear views
(click images to enlarge)

The GB-PC1 is designed around MediaTek’s MT621A Dual-core Network Processor SoC, which is based on the MIPS1004Kc CPU architecture. The processor, which according to GnuBee can be overclocked to 1.2GHz, is backed by 512MB of soldered-down DDR3 RAM. The board’s microSD slot has successfully been tested with up to 64GB cards.

GnuBee GB-PC1 circuit board top and bottom views
(click image to enlarge)

Other features of the GB-PC1 include dual GbE ports, a single USB 3.0 and dual USB 2.0 ports, and a serial port available at both a 3-pin connector and a 3.5mm jack. The device is powered by 12V DC at up to 3 Amps. It’s noteworthy that the GB-PC1 is not compatible with the more affordable — and generally higher capacity — 3.5-inch drives, although GnuBee says “a future version might be.”

GnuBee GB-PC1 LEDE and OpenMediaVault screenshots
(click images to enlarge)

GnuBee plans to support the GB-PC1 with several popular open-source software platforms. These will include Debian, OpenMediaVault, and a pair of OpenWRT successors: the libreCMC OpenWRT fork, plus a GnuBee fork of LEDE. Regarding the latter, a comment on the GB-PC1’s Crowd Supply page implies that GnuBee plans to merge its fork into the upstream LEDE sources after the GB-PC1 has reached production.


GnuBee’s Crowd Supply campaign page lists these specifications for the GB-PC1:

  • Processor — MediaTek MT7621A (includes 2x 880MHz MIPS1004Kc cores)
  • Memory — 512MB DDR3 (soldered on-board)
  • Storage:
    • 1x microSD slot
    • 6x sockets for 2.5-inch HDD or SSD drives; supports RAID 0 and 1 under LVM and MD, and Linux MD RAID 10
  • Networking — 2x GbE ports
  • Other I/O:
    • 1x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 1x serial port (available at 3-pin header or 3.5mm jack)
  • Power — 12VDC @ 3A max. (barrel jack)
  • Dimensions — 216 x 70 x 140mm
  • Anodized aluminum enclosure
  • Software — Debian, OpenMediaVault (OMV), LEDE, libreCMC

Further information

GnuBee’s GB-PC1 device, expected to ship in September, is currently priced at $168 (power supply and microSD card not included). A 12VDC, 3A power supply can be ordered for $19, and a $6 2GB microSD card with the GB-PC1’s Debian OS pre-installed is also available. DIY enthusiasts can obtain the GB-PC1’s bare PCB for $50 (expected to ship in August), and an additional $8 gets you a handy USB-to-UART debugging adapter. Additional details are at the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1’s Crowd Supply funding page, here.

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7 responses to “Open source NAS, offered as a device or bare PCB, runs Linux on MIPS”

  1. tai viinikka says:

    The enclosure can only hold 2.5″ media, but if I buy the bare board, and plug in a 3.5″ drive, why wouldn’t it work?

  2. Paul Corneille says:

    Nice idea (<3 OSource), but the hardware is too weak to provide enough power for serious and safely NAS device, is bareley enough for basic backup/mediaserver home use, but for sure not for a (small) business solutions with multiple devices RW at the same time.
    Hope they will make in the future a version with much higher RAM(ECC) and a serious CPU.

    BTW choosing for a OpenSource project a SoC from Mediateck, brand who is well know to be a very very BAD partner of OpenSource community is a questionable choice.

  3. Frank says:

    Is there support for this SOC in the mainline kernel.

  4. Richard says:

    yeahhhh…512MB is NOT enough RAM for a NAS..

  5. Tony says:

    In my opinion, great in concept, but maybe a little light on implementation. At least it brings to awareness the concept. A nice lightweight OS that does good NAS stuff is a good thing. Leverage solid filesystem level stuff. Keep it simple.

    • Goblin says:

      They’re still actually competitive with the commercial offerings.. which doesn’t mean the stuff on sale is any good.

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