Unraid on QNAP NAS: My Experience (TS-853A)


Guns McWar

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Hello all,

 

I've been running Unraid on my QNAP TS-853A for about a month now. I intend to use Unraid full-time on this box with this as the primary file server in my home. Before switching to Unraid, I Googled if it was possible to run Unraid on a QNAP and the consensus was: "Probably, just try it." As long as you can access the BIOS and change the boot order, you should be able to boot into Unraid. Some people report not all of their drive bays working depending on which SATA controller was being used (that forum thread is from 2016, so an update may have added compatibility for those controllers). All 8 drive bays are working on my TS-853A. The rest of the hardware is working just fine. The LCD screen on the front of the QNAP constantly says "SYSTEM BOOTING >>>>>>>", but I can overlook that. One day I may try to see if I can modify that.

 

I just want to document that it's possible -- and easy -- to run Unraid on a QNAP. My only experience with QNAP boxes is with my own, so your mileage may vary. This is my first Unraid installation, but everything was incredibly straight-forward. I had no complications getting things set up.

 

As others have stated in the past, these NAS boxes come with 500 MB-ish of DOM flash storage. I didn't try to install Unraid on the DOM because I didn't know if it had a UID. It would be nice to use, but I don't see 500 MB being suitable in the long term. I actually removed the DOM because my BIOS would ignore my boot order and prioritize the DOM over my Unraid flash drive. I'll report back if I ever get around to booting Unraid from the DOM.

 

The Celeron N3160 and 8 GB of DDR3 prevent me from going wild with dockers and VMs, but I had that expectation going in; my primary purpose for this box is a file server for my business. But it's running a Minecraft server for my nephews, Bitwarden, and a few other services that I use for work/play. I let my 2015 Nvidia Shield act as my Plex server pulling content from my Unraid SMB shares.

 

Plus, boot times went from 10+ minutes to just a couple. Unraid has breathed new life into my QNAP. This was a hand-me-down of sorts, but I've always been a Synology guy. This QNAP was a clear upgrade from the hardware of the Synology, but the QNAP software experience was subjectively much worse.

 

So far, it's been more than suitable for full-time use.

 

If anyone else uses a QNAP for Unraid, I've attached the case model design I've made.

 

ts-853a.png

ts-853a.svg

Edited by Guns McWar
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18 minutes ago, Vr2Io said:

Some years ago, I use TS-851 with Unraid, it work well for light job, in that time I run two Unraid machine, but now only one.

Nice logo / icon !!

Nice! I'm definitely grateful to be able to boot other OSes on this thing. I'm worried that my Synology is getting close to end-of-life and it's locked to the OS on it. It's nice to stay updated on the QNAP.

 

And it definitely fits the bill for my needs right now. Eventually I'd love something beefier that could do video transcoding, but 2020 is weird and money is tight. I know I'm preaching to the choir right now, but Unraid is a pretty incredible tool, even on older hardware.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wanted to comment on this thread because I've just gotten everything working on my QNAP as well (TS-453b Mini). I did take it apart and remove the DOM flash storage for fear of QNAP OS booting and taking everything with it if the USB happened to be out or some random thing happened.

 

I'm pretty sure I could put any linux distro on it for that matter but Unraid works very well and was easy to setup and get going in a day or so (most of which was transferring data). Hurray for docker compose and being able to move 2GB of appdata files and images and be up and running the same way I was before in the matter of minutes!

 

Things that are better:

  1. Faster Boot Times (10 minutes to 1-2 minutes)
  2. Cache drive is easy to setup so all dockers start and stop faster and the programs running on them work faster
  3. The interface is less bloated in general, QNAP runs a full on drag-and-drop GUI which although is nice for file management is very slow for everything else
  4. Everything is very closed on QNAP and non-standard. Even though Unraid is closed in a sense, it's far more open and easier to do what I want (except run a system wide V2ray client...)
  5. Forums are basically dead in QNAP, Unraid forums have tons of people talking about everything
  6. Cache drive allows for the drives to spin down when I don't need them so they don't make any noise

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Let me pitch in with the news that I have UnRAID running very nicely on a QNAP TS-853 Pro. With a few caveats (see below).

 

I used the HDMI-out to switch the BIOS to prefer booting from the UnRAID USB. This meant I could leave the DOM in place. QNAP seems to want me to do this as it's physically secured with a huge blob of glue, although I'm told this can be fairly easily chipped away.

 

CAVEAT1: No fan control now. Swapping the fans would be a fix, but there's no noise/heat problem that makes this an issue.

 

CAVEAT2: The 2-line LCD display is stuck on "SYSTEM BOOTING". There's a Github project that might be useful here: https://github.com/bkram/qnapdisplay

 

CAVEAT3: Shutdown doesn't ever shutdown the machine. It always reboots. I need to look into this but the workaround is to catch the machine just before the reboot and pull the plug. No big deal with a machine with removable drives which seldom needs to be shut down.

 

CAVEAT4: This is a new one to me, and puzzling. The DOM is (obviously) an unassigned device and I leave it unmounted. As a precaution it's also set as read-only. SO AS IT'S UNMOUNTED, WHY AM I SEEING READS HERE? These reads are incrementing constantly.

 

UnRAID 6.9.0-rc2

 

-- 

Chris

 

 

 

UnQNAP_Main.thumb.png.c7e78c64bf9b0645e3fbc52ebae8ecb7.png

Edited by bidmead
Added OS information
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This is a great thread. Maybe a bit late for me as I am already pretty committed to using a QNAP TS-879 Pro but the unit is not fully setup and things could go South. Thanks for the added confidence.

On 12/30/2020 at 12:22 PM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT1: No fan control now. Swapping the fans would be a fix, but there's no noise/heat problem that makes this an issue.

Is this regarding fan control from the BIOS, or from within Unraid? I have some control over the fans on my unit in the BIOS.

On 12/30/2020 at 12:22 PM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT2: The 2-line LCD display is stuck on "SYSTEM BOOTING". There's a Github project that might be useful here: https://github.com/bkram/qnapdisplay

Awesomeness! I planned to look into this lateron but looks like the initial lifting has already been done.

On 12/30/2020 at 12:22 PM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT3: Shutdown doesn't ever shutdown the machine. It always reboots. I need to look into this but the workaround is to catch the machine just before the reboot and pull the plug. No big deal with a machine with removable drives which seldom needs to be shut down.

I briefly had Win10 running on the system just to poke around - there it was an issue. It's not replicated with Unraid. (HW differs between our boxes though.)

On 12/30/2020 at 12:22 PM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT4: This is a new one to me, and puzzling. The DOM is (obviously) an unassigned device and I leave it unmounted. As a precaution it's also set as read-only. SO AS IT'S UNMOUNTED, WHY AM I SEEING READS HERE? These reads are incrementing constantly.

No answer to your issue. Before starting with Unraid, I removed my DOM. It was sitting on a USB 2.0 header, secured with a glob of sticky compound and a plastic clip. 
 

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13 hours ago, diewurst said:

This is a great thread. Maybe a bit late for me as I am already pretty committed to using a QNAP TS-879 Pro but the unit is not fully setup and things could go South. Thanks for the added confidence.

Is this regarding fan control from the BIOS, or from within Unraid? I have some control over the fans on my unit in the BIOS.

Awesomeness! I planned to look into this lateron but looks like the initial lifting has already been done.

I briefly had Win10 running on the system just to poke around - there it was an issue. It's not replicated with Unraid. (HW differs between our boxes though.)

No answer to your issue. Before starting with Unraid, I removed my DOM. It was sitting on a USB 2.0 header, secured with a glob of sticky compound and a plastic clip. 
 

I'm talking about fan control from UnRAID. I attached a monitor to switch the boot order but now never see the BIOS.

 

However, I noticed this morning that the speed for Fan 0 seems to be being reported on the Dashboard and fan control is apparently in the hands of Autofan v.1.6 thanks to the F71691a module I had tried (I thought unsuccessfully) to load. All is not well, here, though, as only one fan is reported and the detection of the minimum PWM value produces a line of HTML warning which looks like an uncaught exception.

 

-- 

Chris

 

 

 

Fan Control.png

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Hey everyone, thanks for the discussion. It's nice to know that I'm not alone using a QNAP for Unraid.

 

Just following up with some fan news; I set the Fan SMART setting to Manual in the BIOS. Now my fans run at 100% speed. My server is in a networking closet, so I'm not concerned about the noise, and I prefer 100% to whatever they were at before. My drive temps have dropped 15 C.

 

One issue I ran into was when setting my network interface bonding mode within Unraid to balance-alb (Adaptive Load Balancing), my whole network slowed to a crawl. Downloads on all devices peaked at 15 kb/s on a 100 Mbps connection. Switching back to the default active-backup fixed everything. I'm not sure if this is an issue with my QNAP, Unraid, my switch, or me.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Several years ago, I use TS-851 with Unraid, but due to J1800 rather low end, so upgrade again ... again and retire for longtime.

Few weeks ago, I change my last QTS to Unraid, it is TS-251+ ( J1900 )

 

On 12/31/2020 at 4:22 AM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT2: The 2-line LCD display is stuck on "SYSTEM BOOTING". There's a Github project that might be useful here: https://github.com/bkram/qnapdisplay

For my understanding, the LCD are serial type, if you got the control protocol then you can control it through serial.

 

On 12/31/2020 at 4:22 AM, bidmead said:

CAVEAT3: Shutdown doesn't ever shutdown the machine. It always reboots. I need to look into this but the workaround is to catch the machine just before the reboot and pull the plug. No big deal with a machine with removable drives which seldom needs to be shut down.

I have same problem and this not happen on TS-851 ( different BIOS version, but still  QW37AR3X ), I update TS-251 BIOS ** directly under Unraid ** from QW37AR32 to QW37AR36 then fixed this problem.

https://forum.qnap.net.pl/download/ts-x51-ts-x53.207/

 

You can download different version BIOS at below post

https://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?t=133898&start=15#p707545

 

On 1/6/2021 at 7:59 PM, bidmead said:

I'm talking about fan control from UnRAID. I attached a monitor to switch the boot order but now never see the BIOS.

I never found have fan control in BIOS.

 

On 1/6/2021 at 7:59 PM, bidmead said:

However, I noticed this morning that the speed for Fan 0 seems to be being reported on the Dashboard and fan control is apparently in the hands of Autofan v.1.6 thanks to the F71691a module I had tried (I thought unsuccessfully) to load. All is not well, here, though, as only one fan is reported and the detection of the minimum PWM value produces a line of HTML warning which looks like an uncaught exception.

I found a solution, install "FAN auto control" plugin, use it to detect the path, then

- enable auto control function

- disable auto control function

- fan will run at 100% now

- Echo the value to the path, i.e. echo 72 > /sys/devices/platform/f71882fg.656/pwm1, 72/255 = 0.28, that means the fan will fix run at 28% PWM. ( change fan1_input -> pwm1 )

 

9.PNG.40cf4bdbc27f0c37d0cc1524030fc658.PNG

 

 

 

 

Enjoy !!!

9.PNG.e87de254385025fb88e7ff4e6243a838.PNG

 

 

** If your BIOS not "QW37AR3x", don't try to update **

Edited by Vr2Io
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I recently bought a QGD-1600 Switch/NAS  (https://smile.amazon.com/QNAP-QGD-1600P-4G-US-16-Port-Celeron-Processor/dp/B07ZGJMXWR/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3NARAMQ515GPJ&dchild=1&keywords=qnap+qgd-1600p&qid=1614399897&sprefix=qnap+qgd%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1) and was also able to boot up Unraid, I now have an Unraid NAS and a POE Switch in one box, the cool thing is that because the server has two separate cpus/logic the switch operates as original booting up QSS (QNAP switch sw) while coexisting with Unraid on the Host side.  Have not yet committed to Unraid but will start playing to see if I completely switch over.

 

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1 hour ago, Alberto said:

I recently bought a QGD-1600 Switch/NAS  (https://smile.amazon.com/QNAP-QGD-1600P-4G-US-16-Port-Celeron-Processor/dp/B07ZGJMXWR/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3NARAMQ515GPJ&dchild=1&keywords=qnap+qgd-1600p&qid=1614399897&sprefix=qnap+qgd%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1) and was also able to boot up Unraid, I now have an Unraid NAS and a POE Switch in one box, the cool thing is that because the server has two separate cpus/logic the switch operates as original booting up QSS (QNAP switch sw) while coexisting with Unraid on the Host side.  Have not yet committed to Unraid but will start playing to see if I completely switch over.

 

That's great machine, have PoE++ (802.3bt、60W) and PCIe slot, drawback was support 2.5" disk only.

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10 hours ago, Alberto said:

Yes, the limited disk support is a drawback.  I am looking for a SAS expansion option to add additional drives, suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

LSI HBA are recommend, but those PCIe slot was Gen2x2 so 9200-8e already enough. It has a small fan at PCIe slot area so cooling shouldn't a issue.

Low power SATA controller addon card also a good choice.

 

image.thumb.png.89902a0b45547c042e355fc961867961.png

 

Another through, in PCIe area install 3.5" disk ( one or two ) then use SATA cable extend to SATA socket, full-length PCI have 4.76". But you need provide the necessary power ( 2.5" should only have 5v and you need provide 12v ).

 

cp-104el-dimensions.jpg

Edited by Vr2Io
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  • 3 weeks later...

@bof007, in my case (QGD-1600P) I hit F7 during boot to bring up menu, then I change the order of boot devices, save and exit.  This will get the server to boot from the flash drive as long as it is present, if I remove the flash and reboot the menu will reset to DOM (or whatever as I have not found a DOM yet) QNAP OS boot as 1st boot device.

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  • 3 months later...

I am very interested with this topic, though I don't own a Qnap. I am wondering why you need to breath new life to old Qnap with Unraid. I am looking to buy a Qnap.

 

What are the reasons? 

 

If to use Docker, can you not run docker on a separate box, Intel NUC or Lenovo Tiny, and have it save data on the Qnap raid? I assume the Raid still performs as day 1 you bought the device? So that wouldn't be the reason.

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There might be several reasons as to why repurpose the Qnap NAS.

-Security. See for example here: https://www.techradar.com/news/qnap-raises-alarm-over-serious-vulnerability-in-nas-devices

-Qnap depends on raid for redundancy and therefore all the drive are spinning for read write operations 

-While you can run Docker on Qnap fine, its clumsy to use and update

-Qnap NAS are already build, no need to select the hardware yourself and build it. Just buy it, remove the DOM and you can run unRaid

-Typically low power draw

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12 minutes ago, jang430 said:

What part of the system, initially functioning well, is no longer acceptable after say, 5 years of use.  

QTS ( OS ) still function well, but it become slower and slower, I believe it is because I have enable snapshot and too much as time go. And overall I like Unraid more then other OS.

 

Main advantage of change OS

- Data disks can exchange between different hardware under same OS, I have several Unraid build.

- Qnap boot time quite long, disks spindown always not work well.

 

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Ok. Would you say it is also because you've been updating QTS new versions on old hardware? Is this a reason for concern? Just like IOS on iPhone, the hardware can handle several rounds of upgrades, but each upgrade makes it slower and slower. Eventually, some apps won't run. Do you experience this on Qnap if hardware has been around for 5 years? 

 

As for os takes a long time to boot, I assume you don't have to reboot all the time. 

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1 hour ago, jang430 said:

Do you experience this on Qnap if hardware has been around for 5 years?

Not likely because QTS  / Kernel update many time, most update are minor or bugfix only.

 

1 hour ago, jang430 said:

As for os takes a long time to boot, I assume you don't have to reboot all the time.

Even completely fresh QTS, boot up need 4min+. No mater high-end or low-end model.

 

The trigger point for me to say good bye to QTS is most service success migrate to Unraid.

Btw I retire last QNAP hardware too, it standby as QTS or Unraid anytime. I use spare parts ( Ryzen 1700+B450 ) for 7x24 purpose, it replace (1) ATOM Qnap (2) ATOM Cam recorder (3) Rpi3. Power draw increase ~ 15w.

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